07 The brief
into the news and trends
30 The making of a
Aboud, founder and chairman of the eponymous
about the company’s
It’s about time: On-trend luxury watches that are price perfect p.48
Step into the future: Why Expo City Dubai is the epitome of modern urban living p.54
Game on: All set for the upcoming Abu Dhabi NBA games p.58
“We have launched the Dubai Robotics and Automation Program to raise the sector’s contribution
over the next 10 years. By developing talent,
we aim to make Dubai one of the
The SME Story
General manager – production S Sunil Kumar
Production manager Binu Purandaran
Production supervisor Venita Pinto
Chief commercial o cer Anthony Milne firstname.lastname@example.org
Publisher Manish Chopra email@example.com
Sales executive Sonam Sharma firstname.lastname@example.org
Group marketing manager Joelle AlBeaino email@example.com
Group marketing manager Dominic Clerici firstname.lastname@example.org
The UK-GCC free trade agreement: What’s on o er?
Increased trade and investment can unlock further growth in the UK and the GCC.
An ambitious free trade agreement is the key
have told me that negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with the GCC is an exercise in futility. That it will be an overdrawn and protracted process. That it’s not worth the e ort.
I’ve told them that I simply disagree. Every week I speak to businesses who tell me that an FTA will deliver real beneﬁts to them.
The naysayers are outnumbered, and here’s why.
POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC WILL
Firstly, the will is there from both sides – and indeed from government and business leaders of all seven countries – to deliver a comprehensive UK-GCC Free Trade Agreement.
WE HAVE ALREADY AGREED TRADE DEALS WITH 71 COUNTRIES PLUS THE EU, ACCOUNTING FOR GBP808bn
OF UK BILATERAL TRADE IN 2021
Our Secretary of State for International Trade, together with the GCC Secretary General launched the FTA process in June, at the GCC Secretariat in Riyadh in the presence of ministers from all six GCC states.
WE BUILD ON STRONG FOUNDATIONS.
Our Joint Trade and Investment Review with the GCC, completed last summer, enabled both sides to identify future opportunities and priorities, paving the way for FTA negotiations.
MOMENTUM IS ON OUR SIDE
Secondly, the UK has embarked on a programme of negotiations with key trading partners to build relationships as an independent trading nation,
breaking down trade barriers and supporting economic growth. We have already agreed trade deals with 71 countries plus the EU, accounting for GBP808bn of UK bilateral trade in 2021.
These include signed FTAs with Australia and New Zealand, both of which were negotiated and delivered from scratch in less than two years, as well as a Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore, which is now in force.
So far this year the UK has launched trade negotiations with India, Canada, Mexico and Israel, as well as the GCC, who themselves are managing several other trade negotiations already underway.
With both parties working at pace to reach trade agreements, momentum is on our side.
THE SIZE OF THE PRIZE
Thirdly, the more ambitious the FTA, the greater the gains for both the UK and the GCC. Government analysis shows that a deal with the GCC is expected to increase trade by at least 16 per cent, whilst a highly ambitious deal could boost trade by up to 30 per cent. The UK already has strong trading relationships with every GCC market, with total trade amounting to over GBP33bn in 2021. The GCC is the UK’s seventh largest export market.
An FTA will bring opportunities for businesses across the UK and the GCC by reducing barriers to trade in goods – for example, by removing or reducing import tari s.
From a GCC perspective, a highly ambitious FTA could boost GCC exports to the UK by GBP2bn. Intermediate goods (products used in the production process to make other goods) make up 52 per cent of GCC exports to the UK, and these important links will strengthen further as trade becomes easier.
As the world’s second largest services exporter, UK services are helping GCC nations to deliver their vision strategies. Services comprise over 50 per cent of UK exports to the region.
GCC Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the UK reached GBP15.7bn in 2020, and UK FDI into the GCC totalled GBP13.4bn in the same year. An FTA could also pave the way for valuable future investment in both directions.Simon Penney, His Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for the Middle East
“UK SERVICES ARE HELPING GCC NATIONS
TO DELIVER THEIR VISION STRATEGIES. SERVICES COMPRISE OVER 50 PER CENT OF UK EXPORTS TO THE REGION. GCC FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT (FDI) INTO THE UK REACHED GBP15.7BN IN 2020, AND UK FDI INTO THE GCC TOTALLED GBP13.4BN IN THE SAME YEAR”
We can be conﬁdent in reaching an agreement because there is complementarity in our strengths, our economies and in what we are trying to achieve.
SUBSTANCE OVER SPEED
Our negotiations have started in earnest, with the UK and GCC teams meeting in September for Round 1 of negotiations where they discussed all areas of the FTA, focusing on understanding each other’s objectives. We cannot underestimate the process, the e ort required, and the hours involved in preparing for and negotiating multiple sessions for every single round.
A HIGHLY AMBITIOUS DEAL COULD BOOST TRADE BY UP TO 30 PER CENT
Behind the UK and GCC’s chief negotiators stand dozens of policy teams all aiming to achieve the best outcome for their businesses and wider economies. So while there is momentum, and with parties working at pace, it’s equally important to prioritise substance over speed. This is the beginning of the negotiation, and I encourage businesses to stay engaged in the process and to continue to share thoughts and ideas with us.
There is huge political will on all sides to reach an FTA, and great business support from across the UK and the GCC to maximise the opportunities ahead.
A DEAL WITH THE GCC IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE TRADE BY AT LEAST 16 PER CENT
At the end of the day, all sides want a comprehensive, ambitious agreement, which plays to our strengths, brings our economies closer, supports our businesses to trade and invest across borders, and ultimately creates jobs and delivers economic growth.
To counter what detractors may say, I believe that these outcomes are within our reach, and worthy of our e ort.
THE UK ALREADY HAS STRONG TRADING RELATIONSHIPS WITH EVERY GCC MARKET, WITH TOTAL TRADE IN 2021 AMOUNTING TO OVER GBP33 bn
A promising rebound
Travel has picked up during the summer months, indicating broader industry recovery, ﬁnds Zainab Mansoor
With schools shut for the summer vacations and the pandemic fairly under control, travel picked up as people jetted off to destinations worldwide. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that international tra c in July this year rose 150.6 per cent compared to July 2021, suggesting that recovery in air travel continues to be ﬁrm. On the other hand, domestic tra c for July was up 4.1 per cent compared to a year-ago period.
“July’s performance continued to be strong, with some markets approaching pre-Covid levels. And that is even with capacity constraints in parts of the world that were unprepared for the speed at which people returned to travel. There is still more ground to recover, but this is an excellent sign as we head into the traditionally slower autumn and winter quarters in the Northern Hemisphere,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.
Analysing regionally, Middle Eastern airlines’ tra c recorded a 193.1 per cent spike in July compared to July 2021. Capacity rose 84.1 per cent while load factor increased 30.5 percentage points to reach 82 per cent.
“Aviation continues to recover as people take advantage of their restored freedom to travel. The pandemic showed that aviation is not a luxury but a necessity in our globalised and interconnected world. Aviation is committed to continuing to meet the demands of people and commerce and to do it sustainably,” said Walsh.
In response to demand, local airlines bolstered their operations to facilitate travel. Dubai-based Emirates carried more than 10 million passengers to 130 destinations on nearly 35,000 ﬂights this summer. The airline said - at the end of August – that it was operating at 74 per cent of its pre-pandemic network/capacity and intends to scale it to 80 per cent by year-end. Meanwhile, Dubai beckoned the world itself, welcoming 8.1 million international visitors in the ﬁrst seven months of 2022.
In the neighbouring emirate, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said in June that it expected to welcome more than 2.7 million passengers this summer. Air Arabia Abu Dhabi also scored strong points, having announced last month that it carried one million passengers on over 8,000 ﬂights since launching operations in July 2020.
With airlines ramping up operations and passengers keen to travel, the aviation sector seems well-placed to build on the momentum.
“AVIATION CONTINUES TO RECOVER AS PEOPLE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEIR RESTORED FREEDOM TO TRAVEL. THE PANDEMIC SHOWED THAT AVIATION IS NOT A LUXURY BUT A NECESSITY IN OUR GLOBALISED AND INTERCONNECTED WORLD. AVIATION IS COMMITTED TO CONTINUING TO MEET THE DEMANDS OF PEOPLE AND COMMERCE AND TO DO IT SUSTAINABLY”
Track and tell...
WhileGPS (global positioning system) or locationtracking technology can be helpful in your everyday life, especially while navigating through the streets of a new city – it can also put your privacy at risk. Apps can track your whereabouts without your consent and sell your data to third parties.
HOW DOES LOCATION TRACKING THREATEN YOUR PRIVACY?
Users are often unaware of the privacy implications of some permissions they grant to apps, especially when it comes to location-tracking information. Privacy policies are often vague, highlighting the
need for location data and not disclosing that the same data can be shared and sold.
When GPS is on, various organisations can easily track someone’s movements and use this information to collect data on their habits and (dis)likes and target them with advertising based on their location. Once a person’s location data has been
collected from an app, and entered into the data marketplace, it can be sold over and over again, from the data providers to an aggregator that resells your data. In fact, location-targeted advertising reached $62.35bn in 2019, and it is expected to grow in the upcoming years.
WHY IS YOUR LOCATION BEING TRACKED?
Location details improve the user experience, helping companies produce more relevant content.
However, that convenience comes with the price, such as an uptick in targeted ads, an increased digital footprint, and a surged risk of data breaches.
You might have noticed that your Facebook ads often correspond with your location and recent internet activity. That’s the same social network that experienced a data leak of 533 million users’ data, including their location, last year. Our data is never safe, even in the hands of tech giants.
HOW TO GET RID OF LOCATION TRACKING
First, check which apps and software are allowed to track your location. Some apps need your location to do their job. For example, it would make no sense to use Google Maps without giving it location tracking permission. However, other apps collect your location as surplus data. Check the settings for each app on your phone to ensure that the location tracking is turned off on the apps not dependent on the location.
Secondly, turn your cookies off and/or clear them regularly. Tracking cookies are used to find out your IP address and geographical location. A good idea is to get rid of the habit to click accept all without actually reviewing what you are agreeing with.
“YOU MIGHT HAVE NOTICED THAT YOUR FACEBOOK ADS OFTEN CORRESPOND WITH YOUR LOCATION AND RECENT INTERNET ACTIVITY. THAT’S THE SAME SOCIAL NETWORK THAT EXPERIENCED A DATA LEAK OF 533 MILLION USERS’ DATA, INCLUDING THEIR LOCATION, LAST YEAR”
The rise and rise of food prices
Increasing food costs have pushed inﬂation higher and remain a pain point for both food and beverage companies and consumers
The beginning of 2022 kicked o with an inevitable fact that all nations are experiencing — rising inflation rates. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Food Price Index for global food commodity prices marked 29.8 per cent higher in April than at the same time last year. Higher cost of living trends is prevalent in both developed and emerging economies, and they are reﬂected in higher food prices globally. The rise in energy and food prices is to blame for the 9.2 per cent annual inﬂation rate worldwide.
FACTORS AFFECTING FOOD AND BEVERAGE RATE HIKES
Numerous factors have led to the surge in food prices. Over the past couple of years, the dip in food production could not be matched with the increase in demand. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical situations have impacted global food markets.
FAO’s Food Price Index increased by 55.2 per cent between May 2020 and February this year, driven by a 159.4 per cent increase in the cost of cooking oils, which was followed by signiﬁcant price increases for staples such as sugar, dairy and grains respectively.
Let’s explore some of the factors that contributed to this situation:
Firstly, extreme weather conditions accounted for droughts in countries such as the Western US, South America, Brazil, Europe and Russia. This impacted an inﬂux in cost for commodities such as oats, wheat, sugar, corn, soybeans, co ee and livestock.
Secondly, the pandemic brought about cross-boundary restrictions which impacted freight operations and resulted in higher costs, while an increase in fuel prices has made things even worse. Concerns regarding food availability caused cropproducing countries to impose export restrictions which further affected developing nations that heavily rely on imports for their food commodities.
Lastly, the Russia-Ukraine crisis has undoubtedly brought about shockwaves throughout the globe. Ukraine produces more than 25 per cent of the world’s sunﬂower seeds and accounts for 10 per cent of global wheat exports. As a result, sunflower oil and its alternatives are witnessing a sharp hike in prices. Although food and transportation costs have risen, the conflict has also contributed to an increase in the cost of food production.
Instability in the food markets has caused many governments to adopt food protectionism, whereby they impose taxes or a ban on exports of several staple commodities such as grains, cooking oil and pulses, thus impacting import-dependent countries.
IMPACT ON UAE FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY
Data from the UAE’s National Bureau of Statistics show that the annual inﬂation increased to 2.58 per cent in November 2021, from 1.86 per cent in the previous month.
According to Emirates NBD’s report, consumer inﬂation rose to 4.6 per cent in April 2022, when compared on a yearon-year basis. While the chief driver of inflation has been transportation costs (28.8 per cent), food prices (8.6 per cent) have been the second largest factor driving inﬂation in April this year.
Food and beverage (F&B) businesses have been facing major challenges with surging raw material and ingredient costs. Fitch Solutions reports an upward food price
WHILE THE ISSUE IS LARGELY GLOBAL AND NOT ONLY REGIONAL, THE SOLUTION CANNOT BE ATTAINED BY A SINGLE NATION OR REGULATORY BODY, BUT IN FACT, REQUIRES THE ATTENTION AND EFFORTS OF ECONOMISTS OF ALL NATIONS AT A GLOBAL LEVEL
strategies to cut costs. Several businesses are looking into investing in new product development and product innovation, sourcing sustainable packaging materials and renewable energy solutions.
The Brief / MarketingKunal Badiani, regional head, MoEngage –Middle East, Africa and Turkey
inﬂation in the UAE and the risk team forecasts the consumer price inﬂation to average 3.5 per cent in 2022 compared to 0.2 per cent in 2021. In addition to that, price increases have extended to other parts of the supply chain.
Components such as packaging with aluminium, plastic wrap and cardboard materials, logistics with increased freight charges and trade restrictions, and ultimately the cost of the ﬁnished product itself. This has made it di cult for F&B companies to maintain a competitive edge and gain sustainable margins. As a result, companies that can’t absorb the rising costs have no option other than to raise product prices, further burdening the consumers.
The rise in cost is causing F&B manufacturers to review various elements of their businesses, including their product mix, supply chain and marketing
Many F&B businesses, including brands that fall under the AWJ Investments umbrella, have been sourcing alternatives for raw materials, increasing their carrying levels of stock to maintain cost. They have also looked at re-engineering recipes to use alternative ingredients in place of expensive or hard-to-ﬁnd products while maintaining quality standards, all in an e ort to compensate for the price increase and to avoid passing this on to customers.
Furthermore, the UAE Ministry of Economy has taken tremendous measures to counter the rise in prices by imposing price caps on several thousand food items. Additionally, the UAE is encouraging startups and entrepreneurs to provide suggestions and solutions to food security challenges.
Contrary to certain developed countries, experts believe the UAE’s measures and practices are resilient and can withstand the shock to keep the economy stabilised. While the issue is largely global and not only regional, the solution cannot be attained by a single nation or regulatory body, but in fact, requires the attention and e orts of economists of all nations at a global level.
HAVE LED TO THE SURGE IN FOOD PRICES. OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS, THE DIP IN FOOD PRODUCTION COULD NOT BE MATCHED WITH THE INCREASE IN DEMAND. ADDITIONALLY, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND GEOPOLITICAL SITUATIONS HAVE IMPACTED GLOBAL FOOD MARKETS”
Driving customer engagement with actionable insights
The what, why, how and when of it explained
Marketers who undermine the importance of actionable insights to understand customer behaviour are totally adri t. In the digital world, to build an impactful engagement strategy and provide a great customer experience, the ﬁrst lesson to be learned is that data, information and insights are not synonymous.
It’s true that brands and marketers, for a very long time, utilised data points from various sources to provide a personalised experience. But they realised
that campaigns driven by just data leads to superficial engagement and customer attrition. So, building actionable insights is indeed the missing link in the puzzle.
WHY ARE INSIGHTS IMPORTANT?
Marketers have to shift to an insights-led customer engagement platform to stay relevant and create hyper-personalised experiences.
Changes in customer behaviour and adoption of new trends like the exponential growth of digital interaction have made it compulsory for marketers to devise different engagement strategies. Once viewed as a luxury or an add-on, online engagement has transformed into a musthave element in marketing. Brands have to draw insights from various forms of data which their current tech stack cannot offer as it is restrictive.
In the Middle East, the issue is more significant as digital adoption is growing exponentially. There is a huge shift in customer preferences and buying behaviour with almost 67 per cent of customers having moved to digital channels to engage with brands. Therefore, marketers now have to design different and ramp up their engagement strategies to give customers an omnichannel experience. A recent report by MoEngage shows that 38.7 per cent of marketers have identified real-time analytics as their top customer engagement challenge. The good news is that brands, armed with increased usage of smartphones, social media, and web platforms, possess a goldmine of data. It’s just a matter of taking the right steps to analyse and convert these various data points into insights and craft bespoke customer engagement strategies that can deliver results.
The traditional method of capturing historical data to analyse and predict customer behaviour and explore affinity belongs to a bygone era. It’s time to drive in an insights-led engagement and create a ‘segment-of-one’.
WHAT ARE THE INSIGHTS SAYING?
Gap in data leading to disjointed experience for customers
Our findings show that the current customer engagement tech stack most marketers
use comprises customer relationship management (CRM) or customer data platforms (CDPs), and a multichannel customer engagement platform (CEP).
This poses a huge challenge for them in terms of getting real-time analytics and understanding which channels are most effective to communicate with customers.
In this scenario teams operate in siloes and consumers face broken experiences. Only a smart CEP can eliminate these disjointed experiences and help them tide over volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment (VUCA).
Focusing on the right insights is important
Our research shows that only about 14 per cent of the brands deep-dive into important aspects of customer insights like preferred channels, the probability to purchase, churn or hibernate, and segment personas. This missing critical information can personalise communication, but has remained the most underutilised element.
On the other hand, about 34 per cent of marketers in the Middle East personalise communication based on alternate and data from customer attributes like language, channel, and content affinity and 29 per cent analyse behavioural-based data like recent, frequency, and monetary value (RCM).
In an ideal situation, brands and marketers should be curating and analysing all forms of data. With the 3W, 1H (what, why, where and how) formula, brands can draw insights to effectively reach and engage with their customers and ultimately provide a unified, hyper-personalised, and connected experience.
Moving from campaign-centric view to customer-centric standpoint
To build a comprehensive journey map for each unique customer covering every touchpoint in the journey, brands need to shift from a campaign-centric standpoint to a customer-centric view by
analysing “delightful/aha” moments and “drop-off”: moments. Focusing only on campaign-centric insights might provide a skewed analysis. Use of technology and a restructuring of the marketing team helps them focus on the customer, and not just the campaign. With this, companies can begin to organise individual interactions with customers and scale up too.
Getting campaign insights from the right segments
Marketers who keep customer preferences in mind while deciding on the preferred channel are following an effective path to customer reach. As the industry moves forward and customer expectations evolve, brands will need to evolve and draw campaign insights from attributes, purchases, likes, and clicks. Unfortunately, factors such as behavioural attributes to figure out a channel and time preference remain the lowest at just 8 per cent of brands using them. However, building advanced segmentation and customer cohorts through the insights can boost the campaign results.
HOW DO YOU USE THE INSIGHTS TO MOVE AHEAD?
Digital marketing demands more than superficial data to draw insights from and a move away from the current tech stack. To deliver a highly personalised experience, marketers and brands need to shift to an insights-led customer engagement platform to stay relevant and create hyperpersonalised experiences.
To remain in the game of retention by deriving insights for long-term business impact, brands can follow best practices and create a win-win situation for them selves and their customers.
In short, adopt the right tech stack by choosing an insights-led customer engage ment platform to collaborate and share insights and at the same time, elevate cus tomer experience, keeping hyper-person alisation as the key.
“OUR FINDINGS SHOW THAT 38.7 PER CENT OF MARKETERS HAVE IDENTIFIED REAL-TIME ANALYTICS AS THEIR TOP CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT CHALLENGE”
Fromas subtle as a promotion to as critical as bilateral government treaties, establishing a win-win solution is the key to successful and skilled negotiation, holding the potential to overcome differences that have stood in the way of progress for the world’s most pressing issues.
Negotiation is a process of discovery with the goal to uncover as much information as possible. Often described as the art of ‘letting the other side have your way’, skilled negotiation is rooted in ‘tactical empathy’, which encompasses a variety of strategies, all of which are designed to build good faith and give your counterpart the illusion of control. When people feel fully heard, they bond with you, they are more inclined to tell the truth and they more strongly feel they already have what they need. These are the elements for long-term deals that both sides adhere to. Here are simple communication strategies to help you become a more effective negotiator and achieve success when closing deals.
01. Let them go first
Until the other side has shared their terms, they haven’t committed yet. Once they name their price, no matter what it is, they’ve admitted there is a deal to be made. It’s an emotional threshold they’ve crossed.By Chris Voss, author, and CEO and founder, The Black Swan Group
02. Listen with curiosity
To close deals faster, practice active listening. Make the negotiation more about the other side by asking questions that help you understand their situation.
03. Reassure them with your body language
Body language is active listening personified. To get your counterpart to be more comfortable with you, lean towards them and turn your head to show them you are trying to listen more intently by facing your ear in their direction. This will make them feel like you understand them.
04. Smile when speaking
Smiling during a negotiation will likely calm down the other person and tamp down their emotions, making them more amicable.
05. Summarise their “because”
Summarise the world according to them in your words with the goal to recap your counterpart’s situation so effectively that they can only respond in one way: “that’s right” — it signals that you understand them and also builds trust.
06. Encourage them to correct you
People love to correct, and it also encourages openness, engagement and collaboration. Try asking “Am I wrong in saying X or Y?” to give your counterpart the opportunity to correct and explain.
07. Get away from “yes”
Just because someone says yes, doesn’t mean you have an agreement. A “yes” is nothing without a “how”, so ask questions beginning with “what” or “how” to understand how exactly your counterpart sees things moving forward.
08. Encourage “no”
People prefer to say “no”, as “yes” is a commitment that makes people feel uncomfortable. Ask a ‘no-oriented’ question such as “Would you be opposed to X?” to move conversations forward.
09. Don’t explain, argue, or disagree
The key to empathy is no denials or disagreements. You need to make the other side feel heard.
10. Always think in the context of a longterm relationship
Practising the above will make your counterparts feel heard and it will build trust, encouraging people to continue collaborating with you for the long term.
Sales tips to drive your hospitality business
into ‘good, better and best’. I went to a supermarket on Saturday last to buy an iron. They had a Russell Hobbs for Dhs59, a Tefal for Dhs217 and a Philips for Dhs420. Retailers do that to appeal to a wider catchment within their market segment. It also gives the sales team ‘ammunition’ to upsell. For a restaurant, the good, better, best equivalent might be a salad dish, a ﬁsh dish and the ‘best’ being a ﬁllet steak. While all that might seem obvious, hospitality ﬂoor sta need to be educated on this concept, so that they can be encouraged to engage with their guests and up-sell.
02. Look at your place from a customer’s perspective. New regulations demand hygiene signage. But how can you make your premises look easy on the eye rather than like an inﬁrmary? Remember that ‘place’ includes everything to do with the physical environment, which links to our senses. That starts from your entrance all the way inside your premises. What message does your restaurant send to potential customers walking past? Retailers have merchandise presented in their windows. But a restaurant needs to present a hygienic and attractive front that suggests a great atmosphere.
Once inside your premises, all the other senses become important. Are you conveying a pleasant and appealing environment with a sense of comfort and relaxation? Are your standards of housekeeping and hygiene unquestionable, all the way through to your toilets?
Everyglobal trend has winners and losers. Let’s spare a thought for those that were most disrupted in the pandemic. My heart goes out particularly to those in the travel and hospitality industries and of course, non-food retailers who rely on physical stores to survive and thrive.
This month, I would like to share a few ideas to help hotels, food and beverage
outlets, including restaurants, to develop their selling rhythm again. I have worked with countless hotels over the years and I liken their business to that of retailers. The disciplines used by great retailers will also work in the hospitality sector.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO...
01. Check your product o ering. Retailers classify their overall merchandise mix
03. Support your own people to be the best they can be. Many hospitality businesses are struggling due to the unavailability of good sta . So if you have good sta , consider how you can give them the best experience so that they will be engaged, productive and remain with you. A highly engaged team is more likely to give great service.
Train your team on how to give customers the best experience possible in the circumstances. At the very least, talk to them regularly. Many retailers start each day or shi t with a ﬁve-minute huddle. The team stands in a circle while the manager informs them of whatever is important. The training
From product offering to staff training, here’s what can make the difference
should also include selling skills. For example, when a customer asks for a menu, show them two-three options across the ‘good, better, best’ selection. A professional salesperson will skilfully encourage and upsell to a customer by talking up the added beneﬁts. Take inspiration from the beauty brands in a department store. They are masters at this, so go and learn by mystery-shopping some for yourself. Training will give your people the skill and the conﬁdence to do this in a non-pushy way.
Aim to link-sell an additional course or drink to every customer. Retailers might encourage a customer to buy a belt with a pair of trousers. For a bar-restaurant, it might be a starter or a dessert or another drink. Picture this, if you link-sell an extra item to every ﬁ th customer (to the value of say 15 per cent of their main order), that adds 3 per cent to your overall sales.
THE LAST WORD
F x C x A = S: The fundamental levers that drive sales for all type of retailers are in this formula. But it also applies to all businesses in every sector.
Here, ‘F’ stands for footfall, which is the number of customers entering a store (or you might call them prospects). Multiply that by ‘C’, which is conversion (the percentage of those that actually buy rather than just browse) multiplied by ‘A’, which represents the average transaction value. This gives you your ‘sales’ number.
A ter doing the hard work that’s required to attract customers to your business in the ﬁrst place, your next priority should be conversion and ATV (average transaction value). Even with lower footfall which may be outside your control, you can still try to increase the conversion rate and average transaction value of each customer.
Pushing away procrastination
Toinitiate a response to being distracted, we need to overcome our own inertia: keeping us from doing things we might consider di cult, or we’re unsure about. If you are going to minimise distraction in your life and ﬁnd purpose, then the truth is it’s not easy. One thing that you’ll need to overcome is your in-built mechanism to stall, to delay, to procrastinate. Everyone procrastinates according to Tim Pychyl, author of Solving the Procrastination Puzzle (2010), and 20 per cent of people procrastinate chronically. In his two decades of research on the topic of procrastination, he found that the more unattractive a task or project is to you, the more likely you are to stall.
He found six main elements that make procrastination more likely. These are related to what extent the task
if you ﬁnd yourself procrastinating at work or at home, consider what other interests you can introduce into your life to fulﬁl your purpose
“A PROFESSIONAL SALESPERSON WILL SKILFULLY ENCOURAGE AND UPSELL TO A CUSTOMER BY TALKING UP THE ADDED BENEFITS”Rehan Khan, principal consultant for BT and a novelist
“I OFTEN SWITCH ON A COUNTDOWN TIMER FOR 30 OR 45 MINUTES AND THEN PILE-DRIVE THROUGH THE TASK. WHEN THE COUNTER HITS ZERO, I WILL LEAVE THE TASK, GO OFF FOR A WHILE AND DO SOMETHING I ENJOY, SUCH AS LISTEN TO AN AUDIOBOOK, READ A NOVEL, OR GO FOR A QUICK WALK. I THEN RETURN TO THE TASK, SET A NEW COUNTDOWN TIMER AND THEN STEAMROLL THROUGH IT ONCE MORE”
at hand is one of the following: boring frustrating, di cult, unstructured or ambiguous, lacking in personal meaning and/or lacking in intrinsic rewards. The more of these elements a task contains, the more unpleasant it seems to us, and so we are likely to stall and avoid doing it.
Pychyl notes that: “Sometimes procrastination is just a symptom that your life just doesn’t match what you’re interested in and … maybe you should do something else.” I have had this feeling many times in my career, and in truth, until I found my outside passions – writing and teaching – to balance against what paid the bills – my corporate career, I always felt out of balance, not quite whole. It wasn’t until I was able to settle my energy across these three aspects of my life that I was able to overcome (most of the time) my inclination to procrastinate.
That doesn’t mean this is what you should do. Rather, if you ﬁnd yourself procrastinating at work, or at home, consider what other interests you can introduce into your life that will fulﬁl your purpose. That way, you won’t have time to procrastinate as you will see time as a precious commodity not to be wasted.
In the meantime, if you ﬁnd yourself procrastinating, come up with some ideas on how to overcome your tendency to stall and delay. Here are a few suggestions. If the task is:
01. Boring: Introduce some relish and enjoyment into it. If you need to go through an archive of spreadsheets to understand the cost structure of a balance sheet, read the ﬁrst dra t of a tedious piece of legislation, or complete a tiresome application form, visit a place you enjoy, such as a local co ee shop. Buy a co ee that stimulates you in a positive manner, and work through it.
02. Frustrating: I o ten switch on a countdown timer for 30 or 45 minutes and then pile-drive through the task. When the counter hits zero, I will leave the task,
ENSURE YOU MAINTAIN THE CAUSAL LINKS BETWEEN TASKS, NOT LOSING SIGHT OF HOW THEY REMAIN CONNECTED TO THE WHOLE THEN SET YOURSELF A PLAN TO TACKLE ONE MICRO-TASK AT A TIME
go o for a while and do something I enjoy, such as listen to an audiobook, read a novel, or go for a quick walk. I then return to the task, set a new countdown timer and then steamroll through it once more.
03. Di cult: Every one of us has a time of day when we are at our peak. For some, this might be early morning; others, late morning; for others, in the late a ternoon. You know when your body naturally is most energised. Tackle the di cult task when you can apply the most energy to it.
04. Unstructured or ambiguous: Anyone who has worked in an advisory capacity will tell you that every task they have been asked to address by a client starts in the same way. The client knows there is a problem, but they just can’t put their ﬁnger on it. Or they can put their ﬁnger on it, but just don’t know why the problem exists. If you have a task such as this, then step back and deconstruct it into micro-tasks. Ensure you maintain the causal links between tasks, not losing sight of how they remain connected to the whole. Then set yourself a plan to tackle one micro-task at a time. As a novelist, I don’t write the novel in one sitting, but tackle it one chapter at a time, and o ten within each chapter, each sequence by each sequence, and within each sequence, each event by each event, and within each event, each beat by each beat. It’s much more manageable that way, and you always feel a sense of momentum and progress.
05. Lacking in personal meaning: I have had this so many times in my career that I’ve lost count. Why am I doing this? What is the point of it? This has nothing to do with me, and so on. When this happens, and it still does, I think about something that is meaningful to me, such as spending time with the family, reading, or playing tennis, and I tell myself if I can get through this drudgery of a task, then I will have more time to do the other thing, which has more meaning to me. This usually spurs me into action.
06. Lacking in intrinsic rewards: In other words, there is nothing in this task that is internally rewarding to you. You don’t feel proud, or more whole, or enriched by the experience of doing it. I know people who set aside a small monetary treat for themselves when they ﬁnish a task. Your treat will depend on your personal preferences, but it should be something that you rarely treat yourself with, not something you consume or do every day. The treat does not have to be about consumption. For example, if you have a pet, then you may treat yourself with more time to play with the pet.
Question, innovate, advance
Think about it, if you were the founder of the shining internet startup, what would you do?
Let’s picture what would happen in a typical business setting:
The CEO, seeing a bad product, would call the person in charge of the product. In most cases, there might have been consequences for such an error, likely another – so called “more capable” person would be assigned to oversee the project.
There would be several meetings to discuss the problem, review potential solutions and decide on a course of action.
Then, a ter a fair amount of time and long internal discussions, maybe even politics about whose fault was this and what were the reasons for the problem, there might be an action plan to address the problem. Several weeks, if not months would pass before seeing anything new happening on the identiﬁed problem.
Fair enough, seems like a realistic scenario, isn’t it?
Spoiler alert, this isn’t what Larry Page did.
Larry Page printed the pages, marked the irrelevant ad results and on top, in big bold letters, he wrote: “These ads suck.”
Then he walked into the o ce kitchen and posted the page where everyone could see it. Was it an arrogant leadership move to publicly humiliate the ones who made the error? Some might think so, but in reality what happened next gives lots of insights on the culture of innovation in action.
One Friday a ternoon in May 2002, Larry Page was playing around on the Google site, typing in search terms and seeing what sort of results and ads he’d get back. He was dissatisﬁed with what he saw. He would type in a search term, and while Google returned lots of relevant organic results, some of the advertising was utterly irrelevant to the search.
On Monday morning, a group of engineers, who were not related to the advertising development department, sent an email with a link to a new prototype of the solution they created over the weekend, which by the way, turned out to become the ‘brain’ powering how Google ads work to this day.
Fast forward 20 years, in 2022 all business leaders agree that innovation is a crucial success factor, and they are very much responsible for facilitating ongoing innovation – regardless of their industry. Innovation is no longer a concept for tech-driven companies but an industry and size agnostic priority.
Why fostering a culture of innovation is the best strategy for the future of your business
Members of the British royal family follow Queen Elizabeth II’s co n as it is carried out through the doors of Westminster Abbey during her state funeral held on September 19, 2022, in London. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III.
Powering proptech solutions
Uros Trojanovic, divisional CEO of EAST-O Holdings, tells Gulf Business about emerging trends in proptech and how PropEzy’s suite of data-driven products are enabling operational efﬁciency for real estate managers
How is technology changing the face of the real estate industry?
For companies operating in the built-asset environment, from developers to property managers and service providers, implementing and effectively leveraging technological solutions has resulted in improved digital channels such as applications, portals and bots. These have increased the ability of the businesses to reach and serve customers, while providing customers 24×7 access to information and services. Real estate industry leaders are now placing heavy emphasis on technology, utilising digitalised platforms that automate day-to-day operations such as renewing a lease agreement, paying a service charge bill or requesting a move-in permit.
The dependence on automation rewards real estate managers with enhanced e ciency, thereby increasing their capacity to take on bigger portfolios. In the case of PropEzy, for example, the platform’s online payment channels process 90 per cent of about 10,000 customers’ utility and service charge payments monthly. As it’s an end-to-end automated process, real estate management company employees have no direct involvement in the process, which results in an increased portfolio capacity for real estate managers. In comparison, traditional channels
require a large number of cashiers and accountants in physical o ces to complete the same processes.
Moreover, end users/residents at the other end of the platform gain the beneﬁt of convenience, having access to the services at all times and not having to be physically present at an o ce to complete a process. Finally, there are the environmental benefits; with all processes being paperless, thousands of printed invoice and receipt copies are saved each month complemented by cost savings.
What are some of the emerging trends in the proptech space, globally and in the region?
If we go by the global ﬁnancing trends, most capital ﬂows into proptech are going to property purchase or partial-ownership platforms, as well as commercial tenant experience apps. Here in the region, most proptech activity has been in the area of real estate search, mortgage and fractional ownership areas.
The trend we are seeing is the rapid expansion of customer experience apps for properties, where residents can access services and make payments round the clock. Mobile apps are fast becoming the norm in this area, in which I believe the UAE is leading the MENA region.
How is PropEzy leveraging data analytics and AI? Tell us about the highlights of this technology.
The incorporation of digitisation and automation in operations produces vital data that can reveal new insights into the performance of real estate portfolios. PropEzy has developed out-of-the-box live dashboards, displaying trends in occupancy and customer service requests across a community, city or region, providing real estate managers with relevant data to enhance the decision-making process.
A new set of analytics for our clients was recently launched, providing data on amenity usage across communities. The dashboard generates useful data such as which buildings have the highest concentration of gym users or which have the most active tennis courts.
These vital insights inform managers of the popularity of certain amenities, helping them make better decisions with future project designs, while also providing valuable information for highlytargeted ad campaigns.
Through the integration with Microso t PowerBI, PropEzy also provides property managers with live analytics on their mobile phones, tablets or laptops, enabling them to see insights such as customers’ payment preferences (online, bank transfers or cheques) and which communities have the highest number of gym, tennis court or barbeque users.
Creating technology to drive human progress
Tell us in brief about Dell Technologies’ Breakthrough report.
For businesses across the globe, the past two years have been truly challenging yet transformative in its own ways. To understand these shifts and their far-reaching impact, we commissioned our Break through report, the largest global-owned study to date, where we looked closely at people’s capacity for digital change.
As part of this report, we spoke to 10,500 senior decision-makers, IT professionals and knowledge workers across 40+ countries — including the UAE and Saudi Arabia – to determine how people are adapting to disruptive change and what organisations can do to unleash the innovator in all of us. The study revealed that while businesses achieved a lot in the last 24 months of accelerated digital transformation, the effort to reach here has taken its toll. In other words, the change has left businesses and their workforce in need of time to recharge, reflect and refine before embarking on new or iterating on projects. For instance, in the region,
half of IT leaders say their organisation knows what it takes to digitally transform a workforce, but after such rapid change, many employees are now facing a challenge to keep up the pace – with more than two-thirds (UAE: 57 per cent, Saudi Arabia: 55 per cent) believing their organisations underestimate how to engage with their people properly when planning transformation programmes.
To provide further context to these finding, we partnered with experts across a range of disciplines to validate the data in order to provide clear guidance for businesses everywhere.
The outcome? We found that true, sustainable breakthrough transformation happens at the intersection of people and technology, along three frontiers – connectivity, productivity and empathy.
Our mission is to create technologies that drive human progress. But progress doesn’t just happen, people make it happen. To that end, the report has been an eye-opener to the role that employees play in driving successful change.
How can business leaders bring the overwhelmed workforce up to speed and motivate them?
We now operate in a hybrid and widely distributed world, and organisations across every industry need to embrace digital evolution quickly if they are to keep pace. However, digital transformation is hard, and people don’t always embrace change.
While many businesses accelerated their digital transformation programmes and the shift to remote work was incredible, it has taken its toll on the workforce. We believe that true breakthrough transformation happens at the intersection of people and technology. Companies can support and equip their people to innovate by focusing on these three frontiers: connectivity, productivity and empathy.
Businesses need to be able to trust that their people will leverage technology to connect securely and responsibly, collaborate as effectively as they would sitting side by side, and seek innovative solutions to business problems. To do all this, they need the right IT infrastructure and efficient end-user tools. And
Businesses have achieved a lot in a short amount of time, but the effort has taken its toll, says Mohammed Amin, senior vice president, Middle East, Turkey and Africa - Dell Technologies
they need to create a culture that welcomes change. Businesses must work with a technology ally who is relentlessly focused on creating innovative solutions, so they can focus on their people and releasing the innovator in them, not just managing infrastructure.
Are human-machine partnerships key to the future of customer experience?
We need only look back over the past two years to appreciate the role that technology played in helping the world adapt to unprecedented disruption. Yes, today a vast number of organisations are truly more digitally resilient than ever before, but what about the other part of that equation, the human element?
As such, businesses need to look at people, technol ogy and processes to be successful. Technology is the enabler to human capacity. With people at the fore front, you can create a successful human-machine partnership that releases the innovator in all of us.
To make this human-machine partnership happen, leaders need to know people’s behaviour and mindsets towards technology and change, and plan for any resistance and uncertainty. These should then be addressed sensitively, respectively – top-down, at every level. The original custodians of technical change, the IT department, can’t do this alone. Chief information officers and IT leaders need to partner with the business for holistic and integrated success, for example, they need to bring in the HR function, and benefit from their people experience and insights.
How will emerging technologies shape the future of human-machine partnerships?
Our study charts a path forward, with breakthrough transformation happening at the intersection of people and technology, along three frontiers –connectivity, productivity and empathy.
BREAKOUT FROM THE BOX
The route to releasing the innovator in all of us starts with breaking through across three frontiers, where people and technology meet:
Break through with connectivity: Provide employees with consistent and secure work experiences, not defined by where they work.
Break through with productivity: Elevate people’s roles and create new opportunities and experiences that excite them and drive productivity.
Break through with empathy: Build community and inspiration through an empathetic culture, modelled by authentic leaders, predicated on the value of people.
Break through with connectivity: Businesses performed tremendous feats to connect, collaborate and conduct business online during the pandemic. But they’re not finished, and technology alone isn’t sufficient. Companies need to make work equitable for people with different needs, interests, and responsibilities. They need to recognise that work is an outcome. They must provide employees with consistent and secure experiences, to thrive wherever they work. They also must put up guard rails to protect their leisure time and wellbeing.
Break through with productivity: People’s time is limited, and there are now too few qualified candidates for open roles. Companies must boldly delegate to technology to reduce complexity and free people to focus on what they do best. By augmenting human capabilities through consumption-based IT, organisations can scale their productivity to new heights and increase their employees’ satisfaction.
Employees who say their business needs to provide the necessary tools and infrastructure to work in a flexible environment, in a way that suits everyone
Break through with empathy: Businesses must build a culture, modelled by empathetic leaders, that treats people as their greatest source of creativity and value. Research shows there is still work to do. By applying empathy to everything, from responsive and trusted technology designs that put the enduser experience first, to thoughtful transformational change programmes that drive excitement and purpose, empathy must inform decision making.
“COMPANIES NEED TO MAKE WORK EQUITABLE FOR PEOPLE WITH DIFFERENT NEEDS, INTERESTS, AND RESPONSIBILITIES. THEY NEED TO RECOGNISE THAT WORK IS AN OUTCOME”
It was the realisation that dawned on entrepreneur Ghassan Aboud, after arriving in the UAE in 1992, that became the starting point for what is now a successful international conglomerate.
Harbouring a strong hunch that he would fare better at business rather than employment was all it took for Aboud to end his short-lived career in media and start a trading company in 1994. “The UAE was emerging as a hub for international trad ers to visit for sourcing products back then. I sensed the opportunity to establish a business that could meet this demand,” he explains.
Close to three decades later, the small business has evolved into Ghassan Aboud Group, a multi-disciplined group, spanning several key sectors with a market reach of more than 100 countries. Supporting the group’s hub in the UAE are offices in Belgium, Australia, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. Aboud, the group’s chairman and founder, feels this journey was meant to be. “I come from a family that has been operating businesses for generations,” he says.
However, the effort and tenacity required to build a multi-business enterprise makes it hard to begrudge Aboud his success. At the helm of a team that comprises north of 2,500 employees, Aboud continues to expand his operations across diverse sectors and geographies.
From humble beginnings in the automotive trade sector to spearheading the group across a gamut of industries, including hospitality, retail, food, media, logistics, automotive, healthcare as well as digital marketplaces, Aboud’s successful growth has required more than sheer human effort.
Having landed on his feet within the automotive space, Aboud ventured into new areas after more than a decade.
Abu Dhabi Food HubKezad is designed to be a game changer within the regional food value chain. The hub will offer fully integrated logistics solutions across road, sea, air and rail, to facilitate trade within the MENA region”
In 2008, the group launched Live Point Art Production, a production house o ering end-to-end content solutions and post-production services.
However, the group’s diversiﬁcation plans intensiﬁed in 2015. The following year, Aboud launched Crystalbrook Collection, a hotel development and management company in Australia, which last month acquired the Rydges Sydney Harbour Hotel for a tag price of around AUD100m. The hospitality management company owns three hotels in Cairns as well as properties in Brisbane, Byron Bay, Newcastle and a boutique hotel in Sydney’s Surry Hills. “Our [hotel] portfolio is set to grow in the coming years within Australia and the region. We are also pursuing ideas on international expansion through strategic collaborations,” says Aboud.
In 2016, Aboud also launched the group’s food and grocery retail concept. Grandiose Supermarket has since expanded and currently operates 18 multi-format stores – such as hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores – across the UAE, with plans of further expansion. “We will continue consistently growing our supermarket footprint in the coming years, with a focus on neighbourhood supermarkets; larger stores with emphasis on engaging food experiences; and smaller stores in high tra c locations where we will focus on the ‘grab and go’ experience,” says Aboud.
“By end of 2022, Grandiose will have 30 operating stores across the UAE, and our plans include launching a further 15-20 stores in 2023. In the medium term, we will focus on densifying our store numbers within the UAE, but we intend to expand further across the MENA region in the longer term,” he adds.
Grandiose Catering, meanwhile, o ers packaged retail meals, banqueting and event management solutions to public sector and corporate clients.
But F&B for Aboud wasn’t just securing the retail landscape but rather, he envisioned, servicing the entire value chain. Earlier this year, the group partnered with Abu Dhabi-based AD Ports Group to establish one of the GCC’s largest wholesale food trading and logistics hub in KIZAD. The Abu Dhabi Food Hub - Kezad will convene stakeholders, including buyers, sellers, logistics players, consolidators and distributors from across the world, as well as feature trading pavilions, logistics services, refrigerated and ambient warehouses, waste recycling facilities and other amenities.
Aboud notes that the opening timeframe for the food hub is yet to be announced but the project is progressing on a priority basis with the involvement of all key stakeholders. “Abu Dhabi Food Hub - Kezad is designed to be a game changer within the regional food value chain. The hub will o er fully integrated logistics solutions across road, sea, air and rail, to facilitate trade within the MENA region,” he adds.
The group is also keen to build on its relationship with AD Ports Group as a key strategic partner. “We are also establishing an automotive hub in Abu Dhabi that is designed to attract players seeking organised services. The auto hub will have an integrated ecosystem that can accommodate all automotive products, including passenger and commercial vehicles, heavy equipment
SUPPORTING THE GROUP’S HUB IN THE UAE ARE OFFICES IN BELGIUM, AUSTRALIA, JORDAN, TURKEY AND EGYPT
“BY END OF 2022, GRANDIOSE WILL HAVE 30 OPERATING STORES ACROSS UAE, AND OUR PLANS INCLUDE LAUNCHING A FURTHER 15-20 STORES IN 2023”
and machinery, spare parts, aftermarket and other mobility offerings,” explains Aboud.
The group’s efforts to diversify across industries and geographies have paid off. Diversification ensures business risks are well managed through the ups and downs of economic cycles, the chairman explains. “This has driven our growth in recent years, with our foray into new markets and business lines. Today we have a decent portfolio of investments that include sectors outside our initial focus area – the automotive business.”
Adjusting the landscape
Despite pursuing the group’s growth strategies with relentless will, Aboud faced several challenges along the way, the Covid-19 pandemic among the relatively recent ones. As the pandemic set in, like most other businesses, the group had to encounter unprecedented levels of uncertainty. But Aboud promptly set in motion strategies to explore viable opportunities as well as prioritised technology and digital solutions as a catalyst for growth.
“Our philosophy is to always think in the long term and therefore, we worked with a mindset of using the crisis as an opportunity to improve our processes and identify growth areas,” he notes.
BUYPARTS24 HAS CURRENTLY OVER 35,000 SKUS FROM MORE THAN 135 ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS
“As a result [of the pandemic], we progressed with the expansion of our current businesses, whilst also pushing for speed in our new ventures – notably, the food and auto hub. These are unique public-private partnership (PPP) projects that have taken off and we hope to see the results in the coming months. We also increased our emphasis on technology as a business enabler,” he adds.
Keen to leverage consumer trends favouring e-commerce and to disrupt the traditional trade supply chain, the group launched B2B marketplace BuyGro in 2020, scoring its first home run in the digital marketplace sector. The platform has since onboarded over 12,000 buyers from grocery shops, cafes and restaurants in the UAE.
“BuyGro connects sellers and buyers on a single ‘userfriendly’ digital platform, improving market coverage, reducing costs with scale, [providing] effective communication and offerings to the buyers. BuyGro has thousands of products across food, FMCG, commodities and non-food categories, meeting all the needs of retail and HORECA businesses,” explains Aboud.
Leveraging years of automotive trading experience, the group also launched an online auto parts marketplace, BuyParts24, last year. BuyParts24 connects distributors with garages, workshops, fleet owners and operators, helping to pare operational expenses and maximise market penetration.
“BuyParts24 was created to be the first mover in the UAE automotive parts ecosystem. The platform has currently over 35,000 SKUs from more than 135 origi nal equipment manufacturers and aftermarket brands, in addition to tires and batteries. The product range and customer base grow daily. We have onboarded more than 4,000 garages within a short period,” adds Aboud.
The group’s growth strategies transcended other sectors too. “We also launched new businesses across the healthcare sector, in pharma distribution and clinics,” says Aboud.
However, challenges continued to persist in various forms. The Ukraine crisis not only impacted global supply chains but also led to oil price hikes, which fed into existing inflationary pressures. Despite oil prices scaling back significantly in recent weeks, businesses worldwide remain cautious.
“Businesses around the world and particularly in sectors like automotive and food have felt the impact
of both geopolitics and rising inflation,” explains Aboud. “At Ghassan Aboud Group, we are proactively monitoring the developments to minimise any adverse impact on our businesses. We are also eying potential opportunities for investments.”
More than a numbers game
Aboud is as much an entrepreneur by choice as he is a philanthropist. Keen to give back to the community and create a better future ‘together’, Aboud has always championed social responsibility, which led him to establish the non-profit ‘Orient for Human Relief’ back in 2012 to help millions of displaced refugees.
However, the chairman is equally cognisant of the looming environmental crisis and has embedded his commitment across the breath of the group’s operations. “We are on a proactive mission to curb our usage of singleuse plastic wherever possible across our portfolio of brands in line with our sustainability focus,” explains Aboud.
Grandiose Supermarket eliminated single-use plastic bags at checkout counters in 2018, supplanting them with free-of-cost paper bags. It also invested in shopping trolleys made of recycled ocean plastic and recently introduced a mix of 100 energy-efficient bikes to control emissions, with the roll-out expected to be completed in Q4 of this year. “Grandiose Catering has also adopted ecofriendly and plant-based alternatives for food packaging and utensils, along with a structured system to repurpose recyclable and up-cyclable materials.”
Its hospitality arm Crystalbrook Collection, mean while, houses 100 per cent ‘waste-free’ bathrooms, while amenities are either biodegradable or recyclable, scrap ping the use of over 250,000 plastic containers annually in each hotel across its portfolio. Crystalbrook operates free of single-use plastics, including straws and stirrers,
and sources around 80 per cent of its restaurant pro duce within a three-hour drive of each hotel.
Despite helming 16 companies, Aboud continues to be on an entrepreneurial quest, keen to identify opportunities across known territories as well as unchartered waters.
“We closely monitor the impact of digital technology in disrupting traditional business models to [help] identify potential areas for us to explore. Our team is actively working on several opportunities,” adds Aboud.
“The group is [also] continuing to build digital assets and evaluating opportunities in the automotive, logistics hospitality, healthcare and food sectors,” he states.
Running a mammoth conglomerate and still exploring new frontiers, it doesn’t come as a surprise when the chairman’s tips to other leaders primarily focus around people and an unflinching approach towards obstacles.
“The future is in our hands, and we can turn every challenge into an opportunity. Also, to achieve growth it is important to build and nurture a capable team - acting in isolation restricts scalability,” concludes Aboud.
The group launched B2B marketplace BuyGro in 2020, scoring its first home run in the digital marketplace sector. The platform has since onboarded over 12,000 buyers from grocery shops, cafes and restaurants in the UAE”
GRANDIOSE SUPERMARKET RECENTLY INTRODUCED A MIX OF 100 ENERGY-EFFICIENT BIKES TO CONTROL EMISSIONS, WITH THE ROLLOUT EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED IN Q4 OF THIS YEAR
The term “Web3”, which describes the idea of a new version of the web made up of blockchainbased platforms and services fuelled by cryptocurrency, is being touted as the future of the Internet.
The Middle East has witnessed tremendous growth in the adoption of Web3 technologies, with UAE recently launching the Dubai Metaverse Strategy. The move consolidates Dubai’s status as a global capital of advanced technologies such as Web3. The city is already home to over 1,000 companies in the metaverse and the blockchain sectors. As the city attracts new players, the metaverse’ current contribution of $500m to the UAE’s economy is estimated to increase signiﬁcantly.
In line with the country’s growth and vision, the region’s leading media house, Motivate Media Group and GB Tech Talk (a Gulf Business brand), in collaboration with Arte by Crypto Oasis, launched the GB Tech Web3 Awards 2022.
The ceremony was held on Friday, September 23, at Social Distrikt, The Pointe at The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai to celebrate the inﬂuential and trailblazing leaders, companies and startups of the region’s Web3
ecosystem. The event attracted over 100 key decision makers and organisations within the Web3 and blockchain space.
Ian Fairservice, managing partner and group editor-in-chief of Motivate Media Group, said: “The future of technology is Web3, and we are privileged to host the ﬁrst edition of the GB Tech Web3 Awards that aim to celebrate the success and achievements of the leaders across the Web3 landscape.”
HOW TO SUCCEED IN THE WEB3 SPACE
At the awards, an engaging panel discussion on how to succeed in Web3 was held. The debate featured Amrita Sethi, a UAE-based NFT artist, Saqr Ereiqat, co-founder and CCO at Crypto Oasis, Mehdi Cherif, co-founder and CEO at Pulse Music, and Gaurav Dubey, CEO at TDeﬁ.
Saed Ereiqat, ecosystem manager at Crypto Oasis, moderated the discussion. The experts spoke about how organisations and startups are on the cusp of transformation, as the world continues to adopt Web3.
Dubey shed light on how they are incubating Web3 startups. “We are precisely looking at the ground level value. In the crypto communities, most of
them are solving problems created by crypto. It goes well with six months, a one-year curve and all that is great. People make money and lose money. I’ve been there for both equities and inventory since 2015. As Peter Schi says, ‘you are wrong the moment you think it’s di erent this time.’ The markets and patterns are always the same. The philosophies will always be the same. And the core philosophy is value. So, to sum it up, we look for the value they’re creating in the long term at a ground level.”
Ereiqat explained what has driven the UAE to be at the forefront of the revolution of Web3 today. “It breaks down to three elements, plus an X Factor. The elements are capital, talent and infrastructure – the base of any ecosystem. The X Factor is what gave us the extra edge.”
Meanwhile, Sethi shed light on the measures of success for an artist to be able to enter the Web3 space and be successful. “I think it’s three things –innovation, authenticity and bravery.” Explaining innovation, she said, “One of the most amazing things about what the Web3, metaverse and NFTs has done is it’s unlocked, like an unlimited amount of possibilities. The only thing that stops you in the metaverse and in
this Web3 space is your imagination. So we can use technology now as a tool, not just from an artistic perspective but in all businesses, to unlock poten tial that we could never do before. The second thing is be authentic to yourself. Because one thing we’ve learned, especially in the NFT space with art, is that fads come and go. And then the final thing is being brave and bold, but also making sure that you don’t remain stubborn and are able to be flexible, lead the space and change the space simultaneously.”
Furthermore, Cherif highlighted how music is one of the only mediums that can be incorporated into our everyday activities. However, he
stressed on the problem that the industry has seen for the last ten years. “One of them is the complexity of intellectual property (IP). It’s tough dealing with music IP. The second is there are just too many people standing in the middle. Third is the business model. So artists in the industry make an average high of 12 per cent. And then we also see that we have problems with payments and lack transparency. So, being in the industry for the last ten years, we’ve gathered all our experience and basically tried to create an ecosystem that can bring value to all the different actors such as content creators and copyright owners.
“We look at blockchain as a very innovative technology implementing smart contract self-sovereign identity micropayments. But this is not enough. The innovation has to come from the business model itself, and that’s what we stand for. So we want to bring good value to the entire ecosystem.”
At the GB Tech Web3 Awards, 15 win ners were recognised. The panel of judges for the awards included industry experts – Saqr Ereiqat, co-founder and CCO, Crypto Oasis; Andrew Wingrove, group director – Motivate Media Group; and Divsha Bhat, technology editor –Gulf Business and GB Tech Talk
In Tuas, Singapore’s industrial-heavy district, Finnish company Neste Oyj is building what will one day be the world’s largest facility for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Once up and running in 2023, the plant should produce one million metric tonnes a year – a decent amount, but still less than 0.3 per cent of annual global jet fuel demand. What little there is will be expensive: SAF costs as much as ﬁve times as traditional jet fuel, itself coming o a 14-year peak.
This is a problem for the airline industry, which is counting on sustainable aviation fuel, as a critical component in its e orts to decarbonise. As of now, airlines contribute more than 2 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions and lag almost all other sectors in pledges for a cleaner future.
Projections of supply based on current trends anticipate more than 9 million tonnes are likely by 2030, with up to 24 million tons possible under an aggressive policy-support scenario, which would require signiﬁcant new stimulus.”
There doesn’t seem to be any obvious Plan B.
LEADING THE WAY
SAF, though, is ahead of the known alternatives. Electric planes or ﬂying taxis are so far limited to extremely short ranges. Breakthrough innovations like hydrogen-powered aircra t remain conﬁned to research labs. Getting frequent ﬂiers to purchase carbon o sets has been widely deemed ine ective — likened by some to “pushing the food around on your plate to create the impression that you have eaten it.”
There may be other technologies that could help the airlines decarbonise, but they may not have been invented yet, said Cuneyt Kazokoglu, director of energy economics and energy transition at London-based energy consultancy FGE.
CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2050
The International Air Transport Association, the lobby group of 290 airlines, has said the industry will become carbon neutral by 2050. Getting 65 per cent of the way there means switching to SAF in a meaningful way, it says.
It’s hard to see how it gets there. SAF currently accounts for less than 0.1 per cent of global jet fuel use. It’s expected to rise to about 4 per cent in 2030, nearing only 6 per cent by 2050, according to BloombergNEF.
Even as production ramps up, a goal to replace 100 per cent of jet fuel with SAF by 2050 is “overly ambitious,” according to Bloomberg Intelligence
What Bloomberg Intelligence says: “Though production could exceed one million metric tonnes a year by 2023, around 445 million tonnes will be needed if SAF is to displace jet fuel entirely.
THE INDUSTRY WILL BECOME CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2050. GETTING 65 PER CENT OF THE WAY THERE MEANS SWITCHING TO SAF IN A MEANINGFUL WAY
AT THE MOMENT, SAF IS PRODUCED AT 17 SITES GLOBALLY, WITH MOST CONCENTRATED IN EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA. THE GREENER FUEL IS ALLOWED TO BE USED FOR COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS PROVIDED IT’S 50 PER CENT BLENDED WITH JET FUEL
At the moment, SAF is produced at 17 sites globally, with most concentrated in Europe and North America. The greener fuel is allowed to be used for commercial ﬂights provided it’s 50 per cent blended with jet fuel. Many carriers have made inaugural flights using SAF, almost always accompanied by media fanfare.
United Airlines Holdings ﬂew passengers from Chicago to Washington DC in December, a demonstration ﬂight that used 500 gallons of SAF in one engine and the same amount of conventional jet fuel in the other “to further prove there are no operational di erences between the two,” United said. The SAF took sugar from corn, beets and sugarcane to make the synthetic aromatics required.
Singapore Airlines has pledged that by the third quarter, all SIA and Scoot ﬂights will use blended SAF as part of a pilot project. The SAF will be supplied by Neste, produced from used cooking oil and waste animal fats, then blended with refined jet fuel at Exxon Mobil Corp.’s facilities in the city-state. It will be delivered to Changi Airport through an existing fuel hydrant system.
Including Neste’s Singapore site, at least 80 additional SAF sites are planned around the world. Those could be able to meet the needs of the aviation indus try if they were to run at full capacity and produce SAF exclusively, according to research by Aircraft Leasing Ireland, a trade association of aircraft lessors, and Oliver Wyman.
But many aren’t expected to produce SAF exclusively. The EUR1.5bn ($1.5bn) Neste plant in Singapore can also make biodiesel, for example. “In practice, this means that publicly announced SAF sites may fall short of meeting demand from the aviation sector,” Aircraft Leasing Ireland said in its January paper.
While carriers including British Air ways owner IAG SA, Delta Air Lines Inc. and United have made around $17bn of forward-purchasing agreements for SAF, going green entirely will come at a massive cost.
“It’s difficult to see a time when SAF and traditional fossil jet fuel prices will be at parity,” said Sami Jauhiainen, the Singapore-based executive at Neste in charge of decarbonising aviation. Even as efficiencies of scale have a posi tive impact, “there will be a premium we have to deal with in the long run,” he said.
Already the expense is expected to stretch to $2tn. Ultimately, airlines may need to raise ticket prices to cover the cost of using SAF, which could make flying too costly for some of today’s ready travellers.
There’s also the cost of collecting feed stock, or whatever other ingredients are being used to make SAF, said FGE’s Kazokoglu. “There are problems at this early stage, in particular on the procure ment side,” he said.
Apart from Neste, several other big refiners have been investing. Shell plans to build a 550,000 ton-a-year bio fuels plant in Singapore, while major Asian refiners such as China Petro leum & Chemical Corporation, known as Sinopec, and South Korea’s Hyundai Oilbank are also expanding their ability to produce SAF.
MAKING IT MANDATORY
A few countries in Europe, includ ing France, Norway and Sweden, have required airlines to use SAF. More must follow to achieve economies of scale so that big oil has an assured market before committing billions of dollars, Jauhiainen said: “We need regulators to create cer tainty of demand.”
Airlines, on the other hand, have criti cised government mandates, arguing it’s not within their power to increase the production of SAF.
“Mandating airlines to use a product that isn’t available doesn’t make sense,” IATA director General Willie Walsh said in October last year. “They should be man dating the fuel suppliers to provide it.”
On a late morning earlier this year, dozens of construction workers were braving the oppressive heat at Neste’s new facility, being built along the coast and across the road from one of its exist ing refineries. They were assembling giant metal domes to store cooking oil, tallow and fish fat that Neste will haul in from ships as they dock nearby. Once in the refinery, the feedstock will be filtered and distilled to make either bio diesel or SAF.
Neste chose to put the plant in Singa pore because it’s already a petrochemicals centre with sound logistics and available talent, Jauhiainen said. The plan is to supply SAF to airlines passing through Changi, an important aviation hub in Asia, and to use other traditional meth ods of transporting jet fuel to more remote airports.
“The challenge of course is big,” Jauhi ainen said. “What we need a bit more is a sense of urgency.”
Business Bay 1439
Downtown Dubai 1358
Dubai Creek Harbour (The Lagoons) 838
Jumeirah Village Circle 666 Mohammed Bin Rashid City 604 Dubai Harbour 441 Dubai Marina 399 Meydan 368 Al Furjan 330
Business Bay 977 Dubai Marina 726
Jumeirah Village Circle 698 Downtown Dubai 610 International City 458 Palm Jumeirah 431 Jumeirah Lakes Towers 376 Dubai Creek Harbour (The Lagoons) 270
Dubai Hills Estate 257 Damac Hills (Akoya By Damac) 257
Tilal Al Ghaf
Dubai Investments Park
Dubai Hills Estate
Damac Hills 2 (Akoya)
Arabian Ranches 2
Dubai Hills Estate
Jumeirah Village Circle
Step into Expo City Dubai
As an environmentally-friendly, tech-enabled city of the future, Expo City Dubai – the legacy plan of Expo 2020 Dubai and part of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan – offers a new and modern alternative for urban living p.54
“As a thriving tourism destination with a wide breadth of offer, we aim to welcome 23 million annual visitors to Abu Dhabi by 2030; we strongly believe that global IPs [intellectual properties] such as the NBA will contribute to this goal”
Fitbit Versa 4
Fitbit recently launched its latest smartwatch, Versa 4, which is packed with multiple features, putting health and ﬁtness at the centre. Powered by Fitbit OS, the device features 24X7 heart rate monitoring and activity tracking, walk and run detection and sleep and stress tracking. Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry, director General Tourism, DCT – Abu Dhabi
BELL & ROSS
BR 03-92 Radiocompass
The latest entry from French luxury watchmakers Bell & Ross is a welcome addition to the brand’s already impressive catalogue. The BR 03-92 Radiocompass is in keeping with the spirit of the iconic circle-within-asquare case we’ve come to know and love. The watch pays tribute to aeronautical instruments and is named a ter the onboard navigation tool in the cockpit that helps guide pilots in low visibility and aid night ﬂying in extreme weather conditions.
The technical wonder is cra ted from matt black ceramic and measures 42mm wide as well as 10.40mm thick. It also features a black dial with a triangle indicator, and the Super-LuminNova markers in the skeleton hands are highly visible with a pop of neon guaranteeing optimal readability. It is engineered with a Calibre BR-CAL.302 automatic winding movement, a crystal sapphire face, 100m water resistance, and a durable black perforated rubber strap that make for a sureﬁre conversational piece.
Carrera Red Dial Limited Edition
Hot from collaborating with Ryan Gosling in the Netﬂix movie The Gray Man, the guys at TAG Heuer are spoiling us with a new limited edition of the classic Carrera model. Enter the Carrera Red dial, an intense and unexpected rendition from the Swiss luxury watchmaker infused with modern elegance and performance.
The fiery crimson interpretation takes inspiration from The Heuer Carrera, ﬁrst designed in 1963, deﬁning the timeless style of TAG Heuer and setting the tone for the most refined sports chronograph collections. The Carrera Red Dial is a feast for the eyes, featuring three chronograph counters – hours, minutes, and a permanent second indicator all powered by the in-house high precision chronograph movement, the Calibre Heuer 02, that boasts an outstanding power reserve of 80 hours. The watch sits comfortably on the wrist, presented with a black alligator strap and stainless-steel clasp.
Limited to 600 pieces, it’s a true collector’s timepiece that will go down in history with its sporty character.
BAUME & MERCIER
Hampton 10641 “Hommage à Pierre Soulages”
If you’re as much an art enthusiast as a watch collector, read on. The Swiss experts at Baume & Mercier have released a limited-edition incarnation of the brand’s classic Hampton watch called Hommage à Pierre Soulages. The design echoes one of artist Pierre Soulage’s most famous paintings, “The Outrenior”.
Marrying the link between art and time, the iconic Hampton 10641 also takes its inspiration from the watchmaker’s historic models dating back to the Sixties and was initially inspired by the 1920s Art Deco era. Imagine wearing this watch to a Guggenheim opening or subtly under a tuxedo for a dose of understated elegance.
Technical achievements include an automatic self-winding ETA 2892-A2 movement, water resistance of 50 metres, a power reserve of 42 hours, and a sand-blasted steel-DLC casing. Sizing-wise, the timepiece is very compact with a case width of 31mm and a thickness of 9.8mm. Sword-shaped hands compliment the dial and the sand-blasted case, both of which are perfectly paired with the alligator leather strap.
“Accept only perfection” has been Baume & Mercier’s mantra for almost two centuries, and it’s clear to see why the Hampton 10641 elegantly ﬁts the bill. Limited to 102 pieces, you will need to move fast.
FREDERIQUE CONSTANT Native Edition Worldtimer
In a world in which we’re all constantly connected, do you ﬁnd yourself continually Googling what time it is halfway around the world to check on family, friends, and business commitments? Worldtimer watches have increased in prominence of late, enabling us to glance down without relying on a search engine.
The Frederique Constant World timer Native Edition is a prime example. The stylish piece impressively features nine native languages including Arabic, English, Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese, to name a few, and 24 cities. A mechanical innovation, the timepiece is handmade in Geneva by artisans and features a world map. It has a 42mm stainless steel case, crystal sapphire glass face, and it also has a water resistance of 50 metres. The ultimate companion for the distinguished globe trotter features a classy navy leather strap with a contrasting white stitch.
RADO Captain Cook Over-Pole Limited Edition
The Captain Cook which ﬁrst debuted in 1962 was an excellent diving watch with a distinguished design, although it never did enjoy the spotlight as much as the dive watches from some of its peers. That changed in 2017 when Rado relaunched the Captain Cook collection and its star has only been rising ever since. Earlier this year, we saw the High Tech Ceramic Diver version introduced and that was followed by this stunning Over-Pole Limited Edition. Given that a modern-day business travellers might well be 21st-century explorers, there’s a laser-engraved city inscription on the bidirectional bezel that can be rotated to align with the hour hand to easily tell the time in any of the 24 time zones mentioned on it. It features a manual-winding Rado calibre R862 movement with an 80-hour power reserve. Limited to 1,962 pieces, each of the pieces are numbered. This stainless steel watch ensures an a ordable worldtimer that doesn’t play second ﬁddle to any of its peers.
BREMONT Jaguar C-Type
Between 1951, Jaguar built only 53 C-Types – consider yourself anointed should you happen to chance upon one in the wild today. The “C” in its name stands for Competition – think disc brakes on all four wheels, a lightweight aluminium body and an aerodynamic form that helped it win the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours twice. Now, another ﬁrmly British powerhouse – independent watchmaker Bremont – recently debuted the 43mm Bremont Jaguar C-Type. The crown at 3 o’clock has a period correct Jaguar logo on it. The red accent on the dial is a nod to Smith gauges found on the C-Type, while the chronograph hand pays tribute to the needle from the C-Type tachymeter. Flip it over and you will see that the solid caseback has a ﬁerce image of the Jaguar “Growler” hood symbol. Between that dial and caseback is an automatic chronograph BE-50AVcalibre which is every bit competition-worthy – and a winner too.
TUDOR Black Bay Pro
With a sibling such as Rolex, Tudor has class that runs in the family. A typical Tudor doesn’t need to display any fancy new tricks to grip our attention – just showing up is enough. However, the new Black Bay Pro goes much further than that with its 24-hour ﬁxed steel bezel, 29mm diameter that sits comfortably on the wrist and an automatic winding Tudor Manufacture MT5652 movement. Add to the mix, options of a fabric, bracelet or hybrid rubber and fabric strap, and you have a COSC-certiﬁed chronometer that embodies e ortless cool.
SuperOcean Automatic 42 Kelly Slater
Breitling’s SuperOcean Slow Motion from the Sixties got its name owing to the fact that the chronograph hand would take a full hour to go once around the dial. This year’s new SuperOcean collection is a tribute to that collection and has a boxy minute hand and the absence of a date window and seconds hand. The new SuperOcean collection features a COSC-certiﬁed Breitling Caliber 17 movement and there are plenty of variants in the new collection. It includes four sizes (36, 42, 44 and 46mm), three case metals (steel, bronze, steel-gold), two strap options (rubber and metal bracelet), and six dial colours (white, orange, turquoise, black, blue and green). If it’s going to be a tough decision to narrow down on one, you can’t go wrong with the 42mm Kelly Slater edition limited to 1,000 pieces – the only limited-edition in the new SuperOcean collection – which is a 42mm timepiece with an orange dial and olive green rubber strap. You’re welcome.
Alegacy can take many forms, but one of its most enduring ones is instilling a spirit of discovery, of hope and of possibility. Expo 2020 Dubai o ered a glimpse of how to achieve just that.
Notwithstanding macro challenges, the sprawling exhibition welcomed people from all around the world, and with them, ushered in a hope of a better tomorrow, led by a conﬂuence of ideas, opportunities and collaborations. Expo 2020 Dubai though was as future-ready as it was present-focused. In the weeks that followed the end of the six-month event, details of its legacy were heralded – the exhibition site was to morph into a clean, human-centric and tech-enabled city.
Representing the ambition of the emirate hosting it, Expo City Dubai aims to be a bastion of progress and innovation. Having o cially opened on October 1, it is part of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan and retains 80 per cent of the Expobuilt infrastructure. Besides hosting several of Expo 2020’s attractions such as the Al Wasl Plaza, the Garden in the Sky tower, the Surreal water feature and several pavilions, Expo City houses the Dubai Exhibition Centre as well, which will host a gamut of conferences, events and activations.
The destination will also play host to the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) in November of next year.
From a commercial standpoint, it aims to act as a fertile ground for businesses by o ering a technology-driven ecosystem, with several companies keen to set up shop.
“Expo City Dubai will become the main facility for Siemens in Dubai. More than 200 engineers, technical experts and corporate sta will work from our building that overlooks the Al Wasl Dome. The space will also include an experience centre for customers, which we operated throughout Expo 2020 Dubai,” says Helmut von Struve, chief executive o cer of Siemens in the UAE and the Middle East.
“As the premier partner for infrastructure digitalisation at Expo 2020 Dubai, we delivered technologies that made the site a blueprint for future smart cities. Together with Expo 2020 Dubai, we selected technologies in the areas of safety and security, quality of life,
sustainability and resilience. These are all key requirements for city dwellers of today, and of tomorrow, so it was an obvious choice for Siemens to choose Expo City as its new hub in Dubai,“ he adds.
By offering opportunities for businesses, and beckoning guests to an array of educational, cultural and entertainment offerings, Expo City Dubai will underpin the emirate’s economic growth.
“Given sustainability, innovation, knowledge development and entertainment are clearly stated to be central to Expo City, it is not di cult to see why it will be an important generator of economic activity. It will also be connected to Jebel Ali port and the two international Dubai airports, which will help drive trade volumes and enhance the logistics sector. Commute timings in and
out of Expo City means it will be a timeefficient location for many businesses looking to locate there,” notes Sachin Kerur, managing partner, Middle East, Reed Smith.
Placing sustainability and technology at the heart of its frame, Expo City Dubai aims to personify sustainable urban planning. Besides being home to 123 LEED-certified buildings, the city will be a car-free destination, offering visitors other mobility options such as buggies, e-scooters and e-bikes.
“Siemens is a big proponent of using all forms of transportation to help achieve net zero targets and protect the environ ment. Siemens enables electric vehicle charging infrastructure, so we are very focused on contributing to the shift toward cleaner transportation. Making cities less reliant on vehicles has a clear benefit for people,” says von Struve.
FROM A COMMERCIAL STANDPOINT, EXPO CITY DUBAI AIMS TO ACT AS A FERTILE GROUND FOR BUSINESSES
Reflecting its eco-friendly code, Expo City Dubai will remain free of single-use plastic. And while it is beckoning people to make greener choices, its sustainabil ity drive is being complemented on an organisational level as well.
“At Rove, sustainability is an impor tant area of focus. We are applying all the environmental learnings acquired across other brand properties to Rove Expo 2020,” notes Nila Pendarovski, hotel manager of Rove Expo 2020, the
only hotel at Expo City Dubai. “Initiatives include 100 per cent sustainable ameni ties, the usage of LED lights for reduced energy consumption, in-property waste segregation, recycling and more. Addi tionally, we conduct regular training sessions to increase the environmental awareness of our team.”
Ahead of its official opening, visitors were offered a preview of a few of its exhibits last month. Guests were invited to expe rience Alif and Terra, the mobility and sustainability pavilions as well as Garden in the Sky, outlining the first chapter of the destination’s journey.
The two thematic pavilions will be joined by the Opportunity pavilion, which will become the Expo 2020 Dubai Museum later this year.
“With the re-opening of the attractions and companies establishing themselves on-site, we believe that we will see a gradual increase in visitors, starting from October,” says Pendarovski.
“Additionally, we expect that the many exciting events taking place in Dubai and across the region in the coming months, such as the World Cup, and the re-start of the exhibition schedule in Dubai Exhibition Centre, will drive an increase in volume.”
Building on the momentum of Expo 2020 Dubai, Expo City Dubai aims to become the new address for innovation, education and sustainability – themes that are expected to shape the future.
WITH THE RE-OPENING OF THE ATTRACTIONS AND COMPANIES ESTABLISHING THEMSELVES ON-SITE, WE BELIEVE THAT WE WILL SEE A GRADUAL INCREASE IN VISITORS, STARTING FROM OCTOBER”
It’s a slam dunk
MOHAMED AL GEZIRY, DIRECTOR GENERAL TOURISM, DCT – ABU DHABI, TELLS US ABOUT THE UPCOMING NBA
IN THE EMIRATE IN OCTOBER AND THE TOURISM
WITH NBABY NEESHA SALIAN
Why did you choose to bring NBA to Abu Dhabi?
Bringing the NBA to Abu Dhabi is the next exciting step in our ambitious sports tour ism strategy for the emirate, as we work to offer a thrilling year-round calendar of unmissable sporting events. Basketball is an exhilarating, high-octane sport with a massive global appeal, which is why the NBA attracts millions of fans around the
world and continually breaks its view ership number records year on year. So, bringing the NBA to Abu Dhabi is a fan tastic opportunity to further raise our destination’s global profile.
The multi-year strategic partnership between the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT – Abu Dhabi) and the NBA is also another example of our successful tie-ups with high-profile global
intellectual properties (IPs) and our desti nation’s proud record for creating dynamic, inspiring and exciting experiences.
The two NBA Abu Dhabi Games on October 6 and 8 will offer the capital’s residents the opportunity to see the world’s top basketball superstars facing off live for the first time in the region. This, combined with the interactive, immersive fan events throughout the city, will really allow fans to engage with their basketball heroes.
All of these factors mean we can engage with new audiences to promote the growth of basketball and competitive sports in general, which in turn encourages an active, healthy lifestyle among residents – particularly the youth. NBA and Abu Dhabi also share similar values, including supporting diversity, inspiration, oppor tunity and acceptance. And through the NBA, we want to further empower our youth and inspire our communities to lead healthier lives through sports and fitness.
Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry
What does the partnership between DCT Abu Dhabi and NBA mean for this region? Can you elaborate on the aspect of this multilayer partnership?
The partnership between the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi is already contributing directly to the growth of basketball in the region. For example, the Junior NBA Abu Dhabi League saw more than 450 boys and girls from 30 schools across the emirate participating in its inaugural edition.
At a regional level, this partnership will bring several unique activations to the GCC for the ﬁrst time, including an NBA 2K League Exhibition event at the annual Middle East Film & Comic Con, a series of NBA FIT clinics promoting health and wellness, and the interactive fan events featuring former and current NBA players. All of these are spurring the popularity of basketball throughout the region, and so we look forward to seeing how this continues to develop in the years ahead.
At the same time, the NBA partnership will produce economic and social opportunities such as increased tourism spending, enhanced hotel performance and job creation. Basketball is a hugely popular sport – with hundreds of millions of fans worldwide – and our partnership with NBA will help us reach wider audiences and introduce many to Abu Dhabi,
a diverse tourism destination that caters to all kinds of travellers.
How will the partnership between both entities aid the growth of the sport in the UAE?
Basketball is a global sport, and the UAE is home to more than 200 di erent
nationalities, so you regularly see games taking place on courts throughout Abu Dhabi with players from di erent countries. Our goal is to increase basketball participation in the area, and we are already noticing positive developments.
More than 220 male and female prospects from the Middle East – including ﬁve
“The two NBA Abu Dhabi Games on October 6 and 8 will o er the capital’s residents the opportunity to see the world’s top basketball superstars facing o live for the ﬁ rst time in the region. This, combined with the interactive, immersive fan events throughout the city, will really allow fans to engage with their basketball heroes”
players from the UAE – have participated in Basketball Without Borders (BWB) or NBA Academy, the league’s elite basketball development programmes for top prospects from outside the US. Likewise, since 2019, the NBA School of Basketball in Dubai has welcomed more than 500 male and female athletes between the ages of six and 18, so the foundations are being laid for something special in the future.
Abu Dhabi is hosting multiple sporting events. How do you see these initiatives impacting tourism in Abu Dhabi?
Every major event we host has a positive impact on the tourism sector and the gen eral economy in Abu Dhabi. The take-up for the NBA Games Abu Dhabi has been huge, with almost all tickets selling out for both nights of the event. This increase in visitors will clearly have a positive impact on airlines, hotels, restaurants, and shop ping malls and other attractions, which in turn furthers our economic growth.
Also, we always encourage our visiting sports fans to venture out and explore the innovative and world-leading leisure, entertainment, heritage and cultural
experiences our destination is blessed with. For example, visitors can meet their film, comic book and cartoon heroes at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, unwind and lounge on our sandy white beaches, or take in some cultural masterpieces at Louvre Abu Dhabi. No matter what you are after, Abu Dhabi has something to suit everyone with its inspiring, exciting, and restorative experiences that visitors can enjoy at their own pace.
Why is DCT - Abu Dhabi focusing on bringing global sporting events to the emirate?
Tourism and sports are interlinked and complementary to each other. Popular sporting events, especially those with a
global appeal, are catalysts of tourism development and make a positive contribu tion towards destination marketing as well as creating economic and social benefits, including an increase in tourism revenue and job creation. As a thriving tourism des tination with a wide breadth of offer, we aim to welcome 23 million annual visitors to Abu Dhabi by 2030; we strongly believe that global IPs such as the NBA will con tribute to this goal. The sports industry has long been one of the most high-inter est sectors among the region’s population, and DCT Abu Dhabi’s portfolio is more diverse than ever, helping make the UAE capital a world-leading sporting destina tion. This is only the beginning as it will only develop further.
“As a thriving tourism destination with a wide breadth of offer, we aim to welcome 23 million annual visitors to Abu Dhabi by 2030; we strongly believe that global IPs such as the NBA will contribute to this goal”
The SME Story
A dedicated hub for the regional startup and SME ecosystem
Determined to disrupt
We speak to an enterprising group of entrepreneurs who are working towards accelerating the mass adoption of crypto investing, revolutionising the way we consume water and using technology to transform the farm-to-fork supply chain
and high net-worth individuals (HNIs).
I did it for stock market investors in my previous startup, and now I'm doing it for crypto investors via KoinBasket.
What are some of the challenges you faced when starting o ?
Give us an overview of your funding and how you plan to utilise it.Khaleelulla Baig, co-founder and CEO, Koinbasket
What inspired you to start this business?
Be it equities, commodities, forex or crypto, retail investors across the world are the most poorly served community despite being the largest of all. Since my corporate days in the insurance and capital market industry, I've witnessed retail investors struggle due to rampant mis-selling and biased investment advice. This led me to take up the mission to empower them with powerful tools otherwise available to only institutional
Choosing the right advisors, investors and team for a fairly new crypto industry was a major challenge due to a scarcity of genuine experts and talent. As the founder of a company, building and nourishing professional relationships in the formative years is a major moat to avoid judgmental errors in choosing the right resources and partners.
What is the core concept driving Koinbasket?
KoinBasket helps novice retail investors invest in handpicked crypto baskets in a hassle-free manner. Users need not worry about complex research, portfolio building and risk management, as KoinBasket does all the heavy li ting. It lets you invest in diversiﬁed cryptocurrency portfolios and indexes, implementing a proprietary algorithmic approach to pick the best from thousands of crypto products in real time. There is no ‘know your customer (KYC) hassle as the platform accepts the secure onboarding by crypto exchanges such as Coinbase that it has partnered with.
KoinBasket has raised $2m in a preseed round from investors, including AngelList Quant fund; Kube VC; Polygon founder Sandeep Nailwal; the MD of Ripple, Navin Gupta; and former director of Binance, Omar Rahim. We've been deploying funds to scale our MVP (minimum viable product), hiring our leadership team and cracking exchange partnerships globally. In order to fuel our global ambition, we are focused on hiring multicultural teams, organic user acquisition and compliance preparedness with a presence across Singapore, India, the UAE and US.
What are some of the expansion plans you have in your pipeline?
We’ve gone live in the US with Coinbase, and are soon launching in the UAE. We will expand across the MENA region. Our growth will be propelled via alliances and partnerships with global and regional crypto exchanges and data aggregators.
“WE’VE GONE LIVE IN THE US WITH COINBASE, AND ARE SOON LAUNCHING IN THE UAE. WE WILL EXPAND ACROSS THE MENA REGION”
What's your outlook on the crypto industry in the region?
The UAE, especially Dubai, has emerged as the world’s leading capital for the crypto ecosystem. The UAE government is ticking all the right boxes in this direction. It's attracting global
entrepreneurs to the region, building a thriving Web 3.0 community via events, summits and exhibitions and providing regulatory clarity so entrepreneurs can scale their businesses without having to worry about uncertainties around compliances. What
Dubai is doing for Web3 is what Israel, South Korea and the US did to propel the industrial revolution a few decades ago. I see UAE continuing to leap ahead in this race by fuelling R&D spend and encouraging entrepreneurship over the next decade.
in a cost-e ective way while maintaining a certain standard for quality. To accomplish this, we take a multilateral approach to ensure the food supply’s quality, consistency, and reliability.
Give us an overview of your funding and how you plan to utilise it.Karthik Jayaraman, managing director and co-founder, WayCool
What inspired you to start this business?
WayCool was founded with the vision of organising India’s farm-to-fork supply chain, to deliver cleaner and fresher produce to consumers, generate higher returns for farmers, and reduce waste and ine ciency. With the looming threat of climate change, more agriculture businesses are going to realise that net zero and being agriculturally self-su cient are not contradictory. They are complementary and by being agriculturally selfsu cient in a sustainable manner, we can reduce net emissions.
What is the core concept of WayCool?
The core idea behind WayCool’s tech stack solution, which facilitates traceability and end-to-end integration is to beneﬁt the food ecosystem stakeholders with informed decision-making and real-time intelligence. We want to ensure a seamless supply of food to the end consumer
We raised $117m in a Series D round of funding. This capital is being used to automate our supply chain and build the data analytics required to make our supply chain more e cient. We are also expanding our range of value-added products to enterprise and retail customers. We also raised around $40m in 2022. We raised $25m in equity and the rest as debt.
We held an investors programme on September 15 to attract investors and other partners and are open to new partnerships and investments. So far, we have raised $160m in total, and we are targeting to increase that number to $250m by 2023.
What are some of the expansion plans you have in your pipeline?
We opened an o ce in the UAE with
plans to strengthen our footprint across the Middle East. We entered the regional market in 2021 and now with the first office outside India, we are all set to strengthen our footprint across the market. We pilot launched various WayCool products in the UAE and so far, are present in over 300 outlets across the country.
Recently, we announced that we are investing in an IoT (Internet of Things) company which is developing technologies for poly house farming, allowing us to do things like predictive irrigation and disease treatment. We are also discussing potential investment prospects in the hydroponics space. Hopefully, if that happens, we will be able to bring precision indoor farming to our target geographies, be it India or the UAE. We've joined hands with Climate Group for the EV100 initiative which aims to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.
We also recently acquired the technology stack of Bengaluru-based agri-tech start-up GramworkX to integrate farm management systems with WayCool’s soil to sell full-stack solutions.
WE’VE TAKEN ANOTHER STEP IN THAT DIRECTION THROUGH OUR RECENTLY LAUNCHED SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE IN THE UAE, WHEREBY HOUSEHOLDS AND BUSINESSES CAN GET ALL THEIR WATER FOR ONLY DHS150 PER MONTH
Getting a product from zero to mass production and now delivery amidst these challenges and changing economic landscape was a unique challenge, but we overcame it.
Tell us about your operations in the UAE.
What motivated you to start this business?
The way we drink and deliver water globally is ﬂawed and we want to ﬁx it. Today, we ﬁll up plastic bottles with a single serving of water half-way across the world and put it on a ship or a plane, o ten drinking it months a ter microplastics have already leached into the water. The existing system is terrible for the planet, our health and our wallets, and it needs to change.
What does Wisewell o er?
Wisewell is an installation-free water puriﬁcation technology that uses full-spectrum ﬁltration to turn tap water into the highest quality of mineralised water. It includes multiple sensors in the device and a webconnected app that shares data and insights on water quality, ﬁlter life and many metrics that allow users to see their individual impact in reducing carbon footprint whilst also saving money at the same time.
We wanted to provide both active and dynamic tools for people to engage with, ones that could help them better understand the role water plays in their health, and also the impact that their ‘water decisions’ have on the planet.
Last but not the least, we wanted to make water puriﬁcation cool and technology driven, not very di erent from what Tesla did for the electric car.
What are some of the challenges you faced when starting o ?
We started developing our ﬁrst model when Covid restrictions and long quarantine periods were still in place globally. Having teams engaged in Canada, UAE and China meant we had to fully depend on video calls and shipping our many versions of the Wisewell prototypes to our various teams until we were “production ready”.
We are a Dubai-based company, but truly have an international operating model with many of our team members based in Toronto, Brooklyn and Shenzhen.
Our global outlook has expanded with our Wisewell units being available across the US and throughout the UAE, which is just the beginning of our journey in bringing Wisewell into everyone’s home.
We’ve taken another step in that direction through our recently launched subscription service in the UAE, whereby households and businesses can get all their water for only Dhs150 per month. Our dream to make Wisewell water available to all is supported by our partnership with Splash, which is a charity focused on providing children with access to clean water. For every gallon of water produced by a Wisewell, we provide a gallon of clean water to children that need it most.
What are some of the expansion plans in your pipeline?
We want to disrupt the way we drink water, with intelligent hydration that is better for our planet, health and bank accounts. Water access, safety, sustainability and affordability are truly global issues, and thus our total addressable market is ultimately a global one. In the region, Saudi Arabia will likely be our next market and the prospects in the region and beyond are quite exciting.
the basics of planning out MVP develop ment as part of your wider business. We can break the process down into six steps.
01. Market research: Sometimes ideas aren’t marketable. Before starting the MVP development process, take reasonable steps to ensure that there is a market for what you want to create. More information and insight give your MVP the best chance of success. Don’t just speak to consumers, look at what your potential competitors are doing too.
02. Understand how your product can add value: Based on your market research, what does the market need or want? What gap exists, that competitors aren’t already filling or certainly aren’t filling effectively? What can you build, in a short space of time, that is going to give users something new that they want and need?
These questions will quickly shape what your MVP will look like.
03. Map the user flow: The design of your MVP is crucial, and it must be user-friendly. Every time you make a decision that will impact how a user will interact with an MVP you need to view it through their eyes. Great flow from a user perspective will mean they never notice ‘using’ anything — it just works. This is what you should be aiming for.
04. Define your MVP’s features: At this stage, you can decide which features to include in your MVP and which are less important. The features that you must create are the ones that fulfill the user
needs you established in your market research. If you have time and/or money, you can leave in some of the features that cover their wants, but you need to focus on what is most important at the start.
05. Launch: At this stage, you’ve done all the hard work in designing and developing an MVP. Now, you just have to get people to use it. This will likely begin with a small group of candidates you may have preselected as being people who the MVP will be particularly useful for so that you can guarantee that they’ll use it and help with the final step in the process.
06. Test, Test, Test: Now, every single step in this list is critical. But if you don’t test how your MVP is performing it will all be for nothing. You need quantitative and qualitative feedback on what you’ve built if you’re going to take it from prototype form and develop it further.
HOW DOES OUTSOURCING DEVELOPMENT WORK?
If you’re looking to outsource your tech team, it’s important to understand how it works. Outsourcing is the process of hiring
a company or individual to perform a task or set of tasks that would otherwise be done internally by an employee of your company – pretty straightforward.
In the case of MVP development, this can include anything from writing code, designing websites and apps, to managing databases and servers, building hardware prototypes, or all of the above so that your complete solution, at least the final one, is built by another team.
Day-to-day, you can organise your devel opers in the manner you want. Perhaps you want to retain project management and design in-house and just have the coding work taken care of outside your organisa tion. Some companies though, are happy to put the whole MVP project in the hands of an outside development team, freeing them up to focus on the rest of their busi ness objectives.
It’s also very important to consider what development model to use when out sourcing, as this will have a big impact on anyone you have working on development in-house.
PROS OF OUTSOURCING
The biggest advantage of outsourcing software development is cost reduction. Typically, you’ll outsource to a country or region where there are plenty of talented developers, but the price of hiring them is lower.
Outsourcing can be a good way to test the market. If you’re not sure whether people will buy your product, it might be worth outsourcing your MVP so that it can be developed at a lower cost. This is especially true if you don’t have enough capital to risk creating a product that no one wants.
If outsourcing is done properly, it can not only be cost-effective but also time effi cient and therefore allow you to capture market share before any of your competi tors catch on.
Outsourcing can be used as an alter native to hiring new employees and/or as part of your business strategy — especially if you have plans for growth in the future. Outsourcing development cuts out the time and effort required to find and onboard great tech talent.
“OUTSOURCING CAN BE A GOOD WAY TO TEST THE MARKET. IF YOU’RE NOT SURE WHETHER PEOPLE WILL BUY YOUR PRODUCT, IT MIGHT BE WORTH OUTSOURCING YOUR MVP SO THAT IT CAN BE DEVELOPED AT A LOWER COST. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE IF YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH CAPITAL TO RISK CREATING A PRODUCT THAT NO ONE WANTS”