Category Archives: Digital Services In UAE

Book Your Calendar For ArabNet Beirut 2015

arabnet beirut 2015

ArabNet Beirut will take place from March 17th till 19th 2015 at Hilton Hotel, Beirut, Lebanon. This year, ArabNet Beirut focused on the “digital and creative industries,” and feature top speakers, executives, entrepreneurs, developers, designers and creative participants.

ArabNet Beirut 2015 will tackle discussions on digital’s opportunities across industries; such as fashion, banking, FMCG and luxury brands, and more.

Digital Media: How Journalists are Leveraging Social Media; Brands and Influencers; Governments  and NGOs leveraging Social Media; Online video production; FMCG, Fashion, and Luxury Brand Management and Online Marketing; Social Media Case Studies in Food & Beverage and Entertainment

eBusiness & Technology: Customer Service Online; Online Retailing and Commerce; Fashion and Luxury Commerce; Mobile Banking; and Regional Hardware Innovation

Design+Code: Usability and User Experience, APIs and Integration, Android, iOS and Windows Development, Visualization, Agile Software Development, Designing for Mobile, Lightning Talks and more

Competitions: ArabNet will run three competitions at the event highlighting rising talents in the region, who will pitch their startups, ideas and marketing talents during the Forum Days.

Book your calendar for Arabnet Beirut 2015 and register from here.

AstroLabs and Dubai Investment Development Agency Creating More Work Space For Startups

Dubai Startup Hub

Dubai is becoming  a real hub for startups everyday, not only offering great opportunities in terms of business but also providing great facilities and infrastructure for them as well. There are several initiatives being launch one after another to encourage startup ecosystem in the city, which is also parallel with the smart city vision of Dubai.

It has been announced that, AstroLabs and Dubai Investment Development Agency creating more work space for startups at the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre in April.

AstroLabs is a member of the 20 global tech hub networks of ‘Google for Entrepreneurs’ and the only hub in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. With this new concept, a collaborative co-working space and educational centre is provided at Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) to support the start-ups.

The new initiative is not an investment platform, but it is solving a huge problem for startups by providing them a better workspace, where they can also interact with the other players as well as the investors. This is a real hub for the startup ecosystem in Dubai to help them reach Global players. Also, with this initiative, global startups will be able to reach the middle east region to showcase their service abilities for MENA people.

As, we believe that Dubai is the right place for startups to link their abilities with the global players. It is not easy to start a business in Dubai because of high investment costs, but on the other hand, many global players are raising their eyes to MENA region to launch their services in Middle East countries. This means, there is a huge opportunity for collaboration with the local players and the international ones. On the other hand, local companies in Dubai are not flexible enough to launch innovation quickly. This is another opportunity for startups to show their abilities in the market with the support of big local players. Number of similar initiatives will increase in the near future and Dubai has the potential to be the hub for the region, not only for the Gulf countries but also countries like Turkey, India and Singapore.

UAE Users Are Adopted Well On Digital (Statistics)

UAE Digital Usage Statistics

Statistics show that UAE users are adopted well on digital services and devices. UAE is not only far front of other Middle East countries and but also competing the world’s most advance countries in terms of digital usage according to TNS’s Connected Life Study.

As, we summarized some of the statistics for you to show where we are standing as UAE in the Digital World:

  • The average adults in the UAE owns at least four devices — smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop
  • UAE people already adopted using personal health services, connecting the car or home to other devices or the internet, using a 3D printer, and even using wearable technology, such as a smart watches and wristbands
  • The social media usage per day is reaching up to 5 hours, 3.3 hours in average.
  • Men use more devices and services than women in the UAE
  • 96% the UAE residents have a social media account and 67% are using it on a daily basis
  • Facebook and Youtube are the top social media platforms, while Whats App has the highest growth rate.
  • 93% of UAE residents have Facebook accounts and the monthly active users are 53%, followed by Google+ at 73% penetration rate and 27% monthly active users, Twitter at 64% penetration rate and 27% monthly active users, LinkedIn at 49% penetration rate and 22% monthly active users and Instagram at 26% and 10% monthly active users (According to DU)

We believe that the numbers are promising but there is one important issue in the UAE. The ownership and the active usage rates shows that, although the penetration is high, the adaptation is not the same in the UAE. The gap is even bigger for the local services like mobile banking, m-goverment and e/m-commerce services. The reason is the lack of quality for the services compared to the others in the world. As UAE, if we want to convert penetration into adaptation more, we need to focus on the quality of the services more, otherwise, global players will get more share from the pie and this is a real threat for the local services in the country.

Can Facebook Workplace Version Be Useful In UAE?

Facebook At Work For UAE companies

Facebook recently announced that they have been piloting a version of its leading social network tailored for getting jobs done in workplaces instead of tuning into the lives of friends and the pilot is running in various countries now.

“Facebook at Work” smartphone applications appear in Apple’s online app store and the Google Play shop for Android-powered mobile devices, but can only be accessed by a few companies collaborating with the social network.

Facebook at Work has news feeds, chats, groups and other features that can be found on the widely-used social network, but sharing can only be done with people inside a particular company.

As, we believe that this can be an opportunity for the companies in UAE to replace and convert their intranet services into a more social friendly version to increase the  employee engagement. The service is also offering mobility, which is not available for most of the intranet services in the companies. There were several examples already in the market since the born of social media and several companies tried to adopt this in various countries before. The thing is, most of these integrations done very early, even, the companies were not able to define the real benefit of this services before launching them internally. However, most of the trends for the near future shows that, employee engagement is getting more important to increase the efficiency and quality of the outputs in various departments inside the organizations. The thing is, all of us are now more adapted to use social networks now and we want to use similar interactions in our work space, where we are spending most of our time. It is easier to communicate with people internally, to discuss about our own professional areas and share experience, especially in big organizations where thousands of people working. In UAE, where different people from various cultures are meeting in the same working environment, this will definitely help organizations to increase the engagement between employees and as a result will create efficiency while increasing the quality of the outputs. The only thing is, the scope needs to defined well and the organization needs to create specific customization based on the company profile, sector and culture. We need to remember, Facebook is currently an open platform where specific add ons and applets are being developed for the target audience so the same should apply for the Facebook At Work service for every company.

Saving, a Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolution


We all want to save, don’t we? But most of us find this a hard decision to make.

Every month, we do various mental calculations; I have spent this much, I still have to pay this much of bills, then I have this trip, a bit of shopping, a few dinner reservations, a couple of other payments and yes, here is what I will be left with. And now, how do I save this? Where do I invest my money, which account is the best, will I access my savings the moment I need, will the bank charge me and many more similar thoughts may keep our head busy. Then we find this too complicated and decide to think about it next month. And the next month starts with a similar thought process.

Saving would be very easy if there was someone who would analyze all our current spending, calculate upcoming bills and other expected spending by analyzing the trend during the previous months, calculate our free to spend money and suggest us the portion that we can move to savings this month. In other words, we all need a financial coach that knows as very well, thus can think like we do, replicate our thought processes and recommend us how much to spend or automatically save each month.

Creating such an artificial intelligence should be the easiest for banks and yet only a few are doing this. Banks know about their customers’ spending and income patterns the best; they have all the data they need. They know each customer’s scheduled payments for the month, can analyze their average monthly spending from all accounts and cards, calculate the average incoming money and even guess the total spending by the yearend with seasonality effect. Banks can also suggest the best way of saving for their customer by observing the customer’s existing portfolio, average monthly free to spend amount and previous saving habit. It is all about building this intelligence that can analyze the past data and sense what will happen in the future.

Banks can even get smarter if they can run such algorithms real-time and recommend customers how to utilize their money instantly as they spend or earn. For instance, after a spending with card, bank can instantly send me a push notification displaying the new free to spend amount and if I have enough funds, can suggest me to save on-the-go with one click for a similar shopping need for next month. It always feels good to save after spending.

Recently, I have come across Digit, a San Francisco based start-up that helps users to save by analyzing their checking account, spending habits and income trend and calculate an amount to set aside periodically. If the user has more balance in their account compared to previous months and can survive the month after paying the upcoming payments, Digit automatically saves a certain portion for the user. They not only do the thinking for the user but also the saving part as well. It is all about building the correct algorithm that can do the right analysis. The downside of the service is that the users do not get any earnings for their savings. This is simply a smart digital piggybank and will surely get smarter as more user data flows into their system. Banks can definitely do more than just sending out e-mails with promotions on their saving accounts. They need to get smarter and deliver experiences that can naturally be a part of their customers’ lives.




Top Talks Middle East Conference in Dubai on 26th, January


We all remember how successful was the Ice Bucket Challenge Campaign, right? Actually it was a true example of launching a great interactive campaign on social media world wide. So if you want to learn how did this campaign so well, you should attend the #TopTalksME conference on 26th, January at Souq El Bahar, Dubai, UAE.

With guest speaker Brian Frederick, #TOPtalksME will discuss the key learning points obtained and challenges faced by the Ice Bucket Challenge. A Facebook representative will also be present on stage to offer insights on the key trends that helped make this campaign successful. The event will provide startups, marketers, agencies and NGOs with the success factors and challenges that the highly successful campaign faced.

To learn how you could launch a campaign as big as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, join the event for free here. You can also join the open table discussion with Brian by registering here.

Which Wearable Is Worth To Buy

which wearable to buy

The below article is originally published in It is one of the greatest articles related to wearables we have read so far so just wanted share it with you. But before the article, we also wanted to share our comments related to wearables in the market to help you decide on which wearable is worth to buy.

As, we have already used several devices including Samsung’s Gear, Fitbit, Jawbone Up 24, Nike Fuel Band, Pebble Smart Watch, CooKoo Smart watch, i’m Watch, Google Glass etc.. We used them not only for trying them but experienced them in real life for couple of months to see how they are adding value to our daily life. So far we believe that, although they are very fancy, wearables are not adding the expected value from them so much. There are several reasons behind it, like charging them, design issues, lack of applications, etc. If you want to buy a good wearable today, we suggest you Fitbit Charge or Jawbone Up 24 as the wristband and Pebble or Moto 360 as the smart watch. That’s all! Sorry for the others, but they are not worth to buy according to us.

Now, please read the article below, if you are thinking about buying a wearable or still waiting for Apple Watch.

Yesterday, I tried on 56 wearables. Fifty-six. And, unsurprisingly, most left me wanting more.

But, by subjecting myself to a torrent of trackers, Android wrist computers, and even a smart sweatband, I came to a few conclusions that you might find helpful — if you’re buying a wearable, or if you get a kick out of gadget-watching.

1. Only a few major players have it right

I haven’t tried on every single wearable ever made. But in total, I’ve worn over 60 to date. After trying on a few dozen, one thing became clear to me: There isn’t a lot of value in the wearables product category yet.

Translation: Wearables almost always suck.

Only a few companies seem to have taken the time to make strapping a “smart” gadget to your body feel somewhat natural. My top pick, the Fitbit Charge (believe it or not), features a piece of rubber, a simple display, and a few sensors. It’s simple, but it works, and I won’t be embarrassed when I see a picture of myself wearing it 5 years from now.

I can’t say the same about Samsung’s Gear S, which tries to do everything instead of doing one thing well. Android Wear still has time to advance and may dominate this category in a few years, but it is not there yet.

Other very solid wearables include the Pebble and the Withings Activité. Also, I will say, the steel Sony SmartWatch 3 feels quite nice on the wrist, even if it’s a bit heavy.

2. Smartwatches and other wearables usually do too much, or too little

Samsung, LG, Sony and the rest of the Android Wear crew all suffer from feature bloat. I don’t want my smartwatch to double as a phone, but that may be a personal preference.

On the other end of the spectrum, simpler gadgets are often limited by sub-par software. Even Fitbit suffers from this problem (I wish it would just integrate with Strava and Runkeeper), to some degree.

3. Not everyone is looking to Apple for direction

The race to launch the next big wearable doesn’t feel like a gold rush. It feels like the aftermath of a gold rush, where Samsung and others are hunched over a shallow stream sifting for flecks — as a fruit company looms.

A lot is riding on the Apple Watch, and many in the tech industry seem to believe that Apple already has a hit on its hands, but I’m not sold. It surely won’t flop, but something about a wrist computer feels inherently niche (for now). I say this having never personally used Apple’s.

I bet companies like Samsung are feverishly waiting to see how well the Apple Watch is received. But some companies are content in playing a specialized role. The SmartMonitor SmartWatch, which detects epileptic seizures, will never target the masses. Likewise, goofy, non-smartwatch experiments like the Narrative Clip, serve far too specific a purpose to branch out and mimic Apple.

The wearables category is still young, and there’s no shame in grasping at straws if there’s a chance someone will build something that makes life a little easier. It’s easy to be pessimistic, but there’s also plenty of potential. In any event, while we wait for this category to evolve, it’s entertaining to watch the puzzle pieces slowly come together.

Dubai Based Carpool Aims To Prevent Traffic Problem In The City

We mentioned about crowd economy in our article this week. We believe that, this is one of the important trends to follow in the UAE as there are many opportunities to reach the people in the country with more meaningful smart services. Carpool is one of the great examples of this trend according to us.

Carpool Arabia

Dubai based Carpool aims to prevent traffic problem in the city. The initiative is basically a car sharing platform for those, who want to reduce traveling costs as well as saving time by reducing the traffic load in the city.

UAE is one of the cheapest countries in terms of petrol price. Not only that, thanks to tax free prices, buying a car is also very easy in the country. As a result, most of the houses have more than one car and this is creating a huge traffic problem in the country everyday.

This is why Frenchman Benjamin de Terssac decided to create a platform in Dubai to provide a solution for those, who are struggling in the traffic. He was traveling from Dubai to Abu Dhabi everyday and he saw that, most of the cars are traveling with a single driver only. He is saying that, car sharing is 6 times cheaper than traveling with your own car in the UAE.

Although, UAE have large highways, it is known that there are 541 cars for every 1000 people living in the city (this number is 444/1000 for New York, 345 /1000 in London and 111/1000 in Singapore).

As, we believe that, Carpool is a good alternative to taxi and other services which are more expensive. Although, the country has a lot of luxury services and most of the people have enough income power to consume these services, the profile of the people living in the country is changing very fast. Especially expats from Europe can be a great focus point for the service. Also, Expo 2020 will be a great opportunity for the company, if they can keep up the good work they are currently doing.

Take a look at carpool from here.

Du Expands Carrier Billing Offerrings With icflix Deal

After their agreement with Microsoft, Du is now offering the carrier billing service for icflix users to subscribe the service without entering any card information.

The agreement is announced with the mail which has been sent by the Telco operator to its customers.

Du Carrier Billing icflix

As, for Telco operators, carrier billing is the right direction if they want to have a place in the financial services. Du is taking the right steps so far and we hope to see more in the near future.

What Does Crowd Economy Mean For UAE

Crowd economy

On digital of things, everybody is asking the same question: What is next?

There are different trends (we also shared some of them with you here and here) but when and how they will effect our market is still the biggest question.

As, we believe that, one of the most important trends for the UAE market will be crowd economy. We will describe why it is important but first of all, let’s take a look, what does crowd economy (it is also called as shared / collaborative economy) means:

“The sharing economy (sometimes also referred to as the peer-to-peer economy, mesh, collaborative economy, collaborative consumption) is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations. These systems take a variety of forms, often leveraging information technology to empower individuals, corporations, non-profits and government with information that enables distribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services. A common premise is that when information about goods is shared, the value of those goods may increase, for the business, for individuals, and for the community.” (Wikipedia)

As you can understand from the above definition, crowd economy is all about sharing services. Sharing things is not something new for human being. We started sharing thoughts first, than we shared food, we shared life and everything we had basically. Today, it is much more easier to share things, thanks to the digital world! Previously, we were sharing things with people around us, now our borders widened, we can reach any people all around the world and this means, we can share more.

For companies, this is bringing a huge opportunity. 2014 was the year for the ones, who took this opportunity really well like Uber, Airbnb and even the Dubai based company Carpool. All these examples showed that, the platforms, which are creating the crowd economy are growing faster than any other business.

When it comes to UAE market, this opportunity is even higher. Most of the companies in the UAE are just moving to Digital and still have a lot to do to achieve world class standards. If they choose the way to move traditionally about creating their space in the digital world, which means investing individually to create all the services from scratch, this will take a huge time for them to catch the digital train. But, if they focus on their core business and share them with more specific digital services, they will benefit more in a shorter time period. Not only time, but also from the cost perspective, this will reduce the costs, especially in terms of initial investment costs.

This means collaboration of companies. For example, API sharing is becoming more important everyday. Big companies, who has the power but not enough flexibility to move faster should focus on creating the open APIs to serve their core services. Small companies, like tech startups, who are less powerful but more flexible will be able to take these APIs and focus on user experience. With this collaboration, it is an absolute win-win model for both sides and even for the end users.

More important, this can be implemented in all sectors, not only for specific ones. Today, especially in US, there are many examples working perfectly in health sector, cities (governmental areas), financial sector, tourism, transportation and more.

Watch the video below to see how crowd economy evolved just under 1 year and what is expected in 2015.


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