Arab Luxury World forum set to tackle challenges faced by high-end brands

Co-CEO of Mediaquest Julien Hawari spoke to Arab News about the conference’s focus in 2017. (Photo courtesy: Mediaquest)
Updated 20 May 2017

Arab Luxury World forum set to tackle challenges faced by high-end brands

DUBAI: The Arab Luxury World forum is set to kick off in Dubai on May 22 and promises to host a stellar line up of international experts.
Organized by Dubai-based publisher Mediaquest Corp., the two-day luxury business conference will feature an agenda of speeches and panel discussions by more than 70 speakers.
The fourth edition of the conference will be held under the theme “Digital Disruption and Emotional Engagement” and serves as a platform for professionals from the premium goods and services market to discuss and debate the latest trends in the industry.
The focus on “Digital Disruption” comes as leading brands in the luxury industry are faced with slowing brick-and-mortar sales while e-commerce platforms vie for the lion’s share of the market.
Co-CEO of Mediaquest Julien Hawari spoke to Arab News about the conference’s focus in 2017.
“The luxury market here in the GCC and the Middle East has been impacted over the past few years on all fronts and retail was not spared. We are witnessing a profound shift and disruption that is impacting the luxury industry.
“The impact that digital disruption will have on the way … business in the luxury industry is being conducted is going to be tremendous,” he said.
“Simultaneously, luxury businesses need to see how to create an emotional engagement with their consumers. How do you create this magic that allows your consumers to come back to your brand, come back to your product?”
The conference brings together global and regional luxury brands, as well as a host of other business leaders related to the premium goods market.
“We have panel sessions with key people from a wide variety of industries; we have keynotes from global and regional leaders; we have exclusive research and exclusive data that is presented during the conference. All of this combined makes Arab Luxury World a unique event,” Hawari said.
The event features keynote speeches by the likes of Jean-Claude Biver, president of the Watches Division at LVMH Group and Chabi Nouri, CEO of Piaget.
However, Hawari is also keen to focus on homegrown luxury brands in the Middle East.
“Homegrown (talent) is a fundamental part of the DNA of Arab Luxury World. We make sure to bring together as many talents from the region as possible… to create one moment in the year where everyone can come together to exchange and learn from each other,” he said.
Although the conference, set to run from May 22-23, takes place in Dubai, Hawari cautions that brands now need to look beyond the glittering city if they wish to remain successful.
“Many brands have been focusing a lot on the UAE, specifically Dubai, and maybe not looking at the rest of the region. Saudi (Arabia) has often been neglected,” he said, adding that some “brands have not been able to create the right connection with the consumer — they relied on a strong global name and that used to be enough (but) consumers in the Gulf have changed.”
“The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) used to be — for many of the brands — a kind of El Dorado, with important growth coming from the region. Consumers were on the lookout to buy new products, to have the latest, to have the best.
“Take Dubai, for example. It has more global brands than many European cities. You have brands coming from Europe, from the States, from Asia and more and it creates important competition.”
But, in such a competitive environment, how do international and homegrown brands stand out?
“To stand out in the luxury business, you need to create a connection with your consumer,” Hawari posits.
This year’s Arab Luxury World has set itself the task of helping luxury brands do just that.


EU announces strict 5G rules, but no Huawei ban

Updated 7 min ago

EU announces strict 5G rules, but no Huawei ban

  • Any bans on Huawei will now ultimately be up to individual member states
  • Huawei is widely viewed as providing the most advanced alternative for super-fast data transfers
BRUSSELS: EU countries could ban telecoms operators deemed a security risk from critical parts of 5G infrastructure under bloc guidelines issued Wednesday, amid US pressure to shut out Chinese giant Huawei.
The plan, which closely mirrors rules set out by Britain allowing a limited role for Huawei, stops short of barring the company from building the next-generation communications network that provides near-instantaneous data transfers.
It leaves member states with the responsibility to ensure the safe rollout of 5G and warns them to screen operators carefully, saying security of the network will be critically important for the entire EU.
The so-called “toolbox” outlined by the European Commission avoids naming Huawei and does not call for an outright ban on any supplier.
But it urges countries to “assess the risk profile of suppliers” and “apply relevant restrictions for suppliers considered to be high risk” accordingly, including shutting them out of “key assets defined as critical and sensitive.”
It also recommends EU states avoid “major dependency on a single supplier” and “dependency on suppliers considered to be high risk.”
The guidelines are the fruit of months of agonizing within the EU, which has struggled to find a middle way to balance Huawei’s huge dominance in the 5G sector with security concerns pressed by Washington.
Any bans on Huawei will now ultimately be up to individual member states, but the commission’s middle road recommendations give cover to European capitals to resist pleas from Washington.
London’s announcement on Tuesday of a limited role for Huawei infuriated Washington, which says it cannot be trusted with such important infrastructure because it is too close to the Beijing government.
The US has banned Huawei from its own 5G roll-out because of security concerns and threatened to limit intelligence-sharing with London in the event of the firm winning a major role in Britain.
Britain, like the EU, plans to exclude risky operators from “sensitive” locations such as nuclear sites and military bases, but a US official insisted there was “no safe option for untrusted vendors to control any part of a 5G network.”
Huawei is widely viewed as providing the most advanced alternative for super-fast data transfers behind technologies such as self-driving cars and remotely operated factory robots.
Along with European telecom companies Nokia and Ericsson, it is one of the few suppliers capable of building 5G networks.
The commission warned that 5G will offer “more potential entry points” for cyberattacks — a growing threat as more and more critical services such as hospitals and power grids depend on data networks.
“5G will be a ground-breaking technology but it cannot come at the expense of the security of our internal market,” commission vice president Margaritis Schinas said in a statement.
“The toolbox is an important step in what must be a continuous effort in the EU’s collective work to better protect our critical infrastructures.”