Seera, Disneyland Paris announce partnership

Seera, Disneyland Paris announce partnership
The five-star Disneyland Hotel, just a stroll away from the gates of Disneyland Park, is a majestic Victorian-inspired mansion that delivers the finest Disney quality, service and hospitality.
Updated 06 November 2019

Seera, Disneyland Paris announce partnership

Seera, Disneyland Paris announce partnership

Saudi Arabian travel services provider Seera Group has joined hands with Disneyland Paris to further strengthen travel demand from the Kingdom, the wider GCC and North Africa to Paris.

With this new alliance, Seera, formerly Al-Tayyar Travel Group, is now a general sales agent for Saudi Arabia and the wider GCC as well as North Africa, Lebanon and Jordan. The company will sell Disney packages that include hotel accommodation and park entry across all its platforms, including corporate and government travel platforms — both driven through Elaa, the group’s specialized travel management business, as well as directly to end consumers through Almosafer, Seera’s flagship omni-channel consumer travel brand, and Tajawal, the UAE-focused online travel booking platform.

Seera will also create customized packages covering flight and ancillary products to create added value for its customers. These packages for Disneyland Paris will also be made available to third-party travel agencies in all these markets. 

HIGHLIGHT

Seera’s partnership with Disneyland Paris, Europe’s No. 1 tourist destination, is expected to further enhance the number of Saudi outbound visitors, who can benefit from the various hotel packages as well as wide choices of leisure attractions.

Abdullah bin Nasser Aldawood, chief executive, Seera Group, said: “At Seera, our customers are at the heart of our business, and we are committed to offering them the widest range of services to enhance their holiday experiences. We are constantly evolving our product offering in line with the needs of the regional travel market. In addition to driving continuous innovation, we work with global leaders to unlock new opportunities to offer added value for our customers. Our partnership with Disneyland Paris is designed to make unforgettable memories for family visitors from the region.”

Brigid McDonnell, head of sales  at Disney Destinations International, said: “Every year, we create Disney memories that will last a lifetime for guests coming from different horizons, and we are so pleased to develop our new partnership with Seera to give this opportunity to the many Saudi families eager to visit us.”

Paris is one of the top 10 destinations for Saudi travelers. According to official reports, the French Consulate in the Kingdom issued over 130,000 tourist visas in 2016, with numbers having grown further since. Seera’s partnership with Disneyland Paris, Europe’s No. 1 tourist destination, is expected to further enhance the number of Saudi outbound visitors, who can benefit from the various hotel packages as well as wide choices of leisure attractions.

The marvels of Disneyland Paris come alive in two Disney Parks filled with fantasy, imagination and adventure. The destination includes Disneyland Park, opened in 1992, and Walt Disney Studios Park, opened in 2002. More than 50 attractions spread over different themed lands, a variety of shops and restaurants, live entertainment options and encounters with Disney characters can be experienced all year long by the guests. There are also six Disney Hotels and two Disney Nature Resorts with a total capacity of more than 5,800 rooms, two international convention centers, the Disney Village and a 27-hole golf course.


Najm wins ‘Leading Claims Manager Award’ for 2021

Najm wins ‘Leading Claims Manager Award’ for 2021
Updated 19 June 2021

Najm wins ‘Leading Claims Manager Award’ for 2021

Najm wins ‘Leading Claims Manager Award’ for 2021

Najm for Insurance Services took part in the Insuretek Middle East 2021 International Conference and Golden Shield Excellence Award ceremony held on June 9 at the Dusit Thani Dubai hotel, where it was presented with the “Leading Claims Manager of the Year” award.

Discussing the company’s strategy and pivotal role in leading the development of insurance services in the Kingdom through a digitally integrated system, Najm’s CEO Dr. Mohammad Al-Suliman delivered a presentation under the topic “Tapping Digital Opportunities for a Future-Ready Insurance.” 

“In cooperation with the insurance ecosystem, Najm pursued a new strategy that led the auto insurance sector in the Kingdom to blaze a trail in the industry, ensuring that all stakeholders equally benefit through a neutral and non-discriminatory approach,” he said.

“Being supervised and supported by the Saudi Central Bank and in constant coordination with the General Department of Traffic, the strategy entailed integrating automation and artificial intelligence, and adopting big data analysis technologies, which boosted the quality of insurance data and its accuracy. Aligning with Saudi Vision 2030, Najm is keeping pace with the Kingdom’s wide-scale digital transformation after launching its strategy BASE, which aims at enhancing the sector’s performance levels and its services. As it rests on two major pillars, BASE covers, first, fixing and building the foundations by improving business performance and, second, growing the core to streamline the customer experience.”

Al-Suliman explained how the company will soon acquire capabilities to exchange, store and process data through telematics devices in an initiative that will contribute to Najm’s complete digital transformation and automate all its services by relying on big data. 

Commenting on Najm’s anti-fraud efforts, he pointed out that the company has made a tremendous contribution to mitigating insurance fraud over the past period and reducing fraud cases significantly, uncovering numerous confirmed cases worth more than SR82 million ($22 million). 

Al-Suliman said: “Development covered field system services and advanced methods of responding to the customers’ claims. Some of the top solutions provided by the company for this purpose is the Najm app that considerably elevated the quality of services for customers, particularly in terms of response time, in addition to the new IVR service, which offers advanced call services. Automating more than 95 percent of the services through the company’s digital platforms has resulted in delivering an array of products and services such as forwarding the data of insurance documents to the National Information Center, providing online discounts based on the customer’s insurance record, and receiving claims digitally. 

“Such developments have coincided with a complete transformation in insurance services, changing the approach of gaining revenues from traffic accidents and their percentages to the extent of traffic and general safety that insurance can uphold. In other words, as the rate of adherence to the insurance document rises, revenues continue to grow and at the same time insurance costs drop overall.”

Considered to be the MENA region’s leading international event dedicated to addressing prominent issues in the insurance industry, Insuretek Middle East provides insight into the field through high-quality research and generates practical far-reaching plans. The event also offers the ideal meeting place to exchange information, learn about the various aspects of collaboration and come across opportunities enabling commercial growth.


Amazon Payment Services launches fintech lab in Dubai

Amazon Payment Services launches fintech lab in Dubai
Updated 19 June 2021

Amazon Payment Services launches fintech lab in Dubai

Amazon Payment Services launches fintech lab in Dubai

Amazon Payment Services, a payment processing service in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has launched the Amazon Fintech Lab in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Innovation Hub. The initiative is the latest in Amazon Payment Services’ efforts to support fintech in the region by providing a forum for discussions on digital payments and the future of the fintech industry.

Part of the Dubai Future District announced in January 2020 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, the DIFC Innovation Hub is the region’s largest environment aimed at fostering the startup community to shape the future of finance and future economies in the region. The Amazon Fintech Lab aims to support this community through networking, mentorship, roundtables, workshops, keynote speakers and research around the topics of digital services, fintech and the global tech arena.

During the launch of the DIFC Innovation Hub last month, the Amazon Fintech Lab was visited by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and president of the DIFC.

As part of the DIFC Innovation Hub’s inaugural month of activities, Omar Soudodi, managing director of Amazon Payment Services, delivered a talk highlighting the importance of supporting regional startups and fintech companies for driving innovation in an advanced knowledge economy. “Through the Amazon Fintech Lab, we work with innovators and visionaries to turn exciting new ideas and concepts into transformational and disruptive forces in fintech,” he said. “The lab also brings like-minded entrepreneurs and startups together with new and existing business partners to cultivate innovation in the fintech and digital services arena, supported by Amazon’s global expertise on new products and services, and knowledge sessions on topics related to the payments sector.”

Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “We welcome Amazon Payment Services’ first fintech lab in the world at the Innovation Hub in DIFC. By choosing DIFC, Amazon has the ideal platform to grow given they are now part of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia’s largest and comprehensive financial, technology and innovation ecosystem. We are looking forward to working together to drive the future of finance.”


Mishal Al-Hokair named president of Middle East & North Africa Leisure and Attractions Council

Mishal Al-Hokair named president of Middle East & North Africa Leisure and Attractions Council
Updated 19 June 2021

Mishal Al-Hokair named president of Middle East & North Africa Leisure and Attractions Council

Mishal Al-Hokair named president of Middle East & North Africa Leisure and Attractions Council

At its recently held 5th annual general meeting (AGM), the Middle East and North Africa Leisure and Attractions Council (MENALAC) announced the election results of its vacant board positions while welcoming a majority attendance from its members.

The names of the winning board members were announced by UHY James Chartered Accountants, who acted as an independent election officer, and oversaw the online election process, held prior to the AGM. 

Mishal Al-Hokair, deputy CEO and general manager — entertainment of Al-Hokair Group, has been elected as MENALAC’s new president. With the leisure and attractions sector reaching new heights in Saudi Arabia, Al-Hokair, a Saudi national, brings a raft of new industry insights to the board.

He said: “I am grateful to be surrounded by a wonderful board of directors that have a shared vision for relevance and development in this ever-changing environment. I would like to express my deep appreciation to the previous MENALAC presidents for all the efforts and support they’ve provided during the last period. Furthermore, I would like to thank all the MENALAC committees for the efforts and the great values they’ve added to MENALAC and to the entertainment industry.”

Established in 2014, MENALAC is a not-for-profit platform representing the leisure, entertainment and attractions industry in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Silvio Liedtke, CEO of Landmark Leisure, was re-elected as vice president; Dr. Dattakumar, director of operations at Antic’s Land, was reelected as treasurer of the council for a term of two years, and Rosa Tahmaseb remains the secretary-general for the association. 

Tahmaseb said: “It was great to see such enthusiastic attendance at our fifth AGM. MENALAC is a rapidly growing community of 86 members representing more than 600 operations across 17 countries. Committed to further enriching our industry’s offering and bringing incredible value to our members, MENALAC has an exciting term ahead, filled with the launch of a first-of-its-kind industry report and exclusive member events.”

Mark Tucker, general manager of Adventureland, and Shahzad Ali, CEO of Cheeky Monkeys Playland, were reelected, while Jamie Charlesworth, director of operations at SEVEN, and Rajiv Sangari, vice president — marketing, international business and licensing at IMG Worlds of Adventure, were elected to the four vacant operator board positions for a two-year term (2021-2023).

Mike Rigby, executive vice president Middle East and India at Whitewater, was re-elected and Eric Beauregard, vice president, global sales and marketing at Triotech, was elected to the two vacant manufacturer and suppliers board positions for a two-year term (2021-2023).


Masdar City drives global green recovery from COVID-19

Masdar City drives global green recovery from COVID-19
Updated 16 June 2021

Masdar City drives global green recovery from COVID-19

Masdar City drives global green recovery from COVID-19

Masdar City, the sustainable urban development in Abu Dhabi, is set to play a key role in the global green recovery from COVID-19 as it continues to add sustainability-focused innovation and technology companies. The number of companies in the city’s free zone increased 26 percent in 2020, indicating the important role of the city and its offerings to innovation-led companies, including G42 Healthcare, whose laboratories and testing centers were central to the UAE’s pandemic response. 

The figures emphasize the essential need for innovation in progressing the green transition through the development and commercialization of new technologies. Masdar City is Abu Dhabi’s only planned and approved research and development (R&D) cluster and is now home to more than 900 companies, ranging from multinationals and SMEs, to homegrown startups. These companies are developing ground-breaking technological solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, across the key sectors of energy, water, artificial intelligence, health, space, agriculture and mobility. 

“The UAE leadership has made a longstanding commitment to progressive climate action and recognizes the integral part that innovation plays in advancing the global green recovery,” said Abdulla Balalaa, executive director, Masdar City. “The COVID-19 pandemic has further underlined the links between public health and climate change. Now more than ever, we see the critical importance of the green recovery. It is the only way forward to drive sustainable development, and facilitating innovation in key sectors is a fundamental aspect of this journey, one that we are helping to lead at Masdar City.

“The UAE also has in place a National Strategy for Advanced Innovation which is focused on devising innovative solutions in the health, transportation, water, environment and space technology sectors. This vision is at the heart of Masdar and the reason that Masdar City was developed as a ‘greenprint’ of sustainable urban living and a center for R&D, innovation and technology. The work being done by companies in Masdar City to develop transformative technologies, is not only preparing for the future, but is creating it, while simultaneously supporting the UAE’s goals of driving sustainable and positive change,” Balalaa added.

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Masdar City has continued to welcome new partners, including high-tech sector drivers, the Advanced Technology Research Council, which shapes the R&D strategy in Abu Dhabi, alongside its pillar entities, the Technology Innovation Institute and ASPIRE, and will continue to welcome regional and global partners in the coming months. 

Masdar recently marked its 15-year anniversary with its “For A Sustainable Future” brand campaign, which is focusing on real-world examples of how Masdar City is driving innovation in the region.


King Abdullah Port achieves new record in breakbulk cargo

King Abdullah Port achieves new record in breakbulk cargo
Updated 16 June 2021

King Abdullah Port achieves new record in breakbulk cargo

King Abdullah Port achieves new record in breakbulk cargo

King Abdullah Port achieved a new record for the monthly volume of breakbulk cargo, by handling more than 600,000 tons. The accomplishment demonstrates the port’s outstanding capacity and efficiency in cargo handling as well as the role it plays in facilitating the smooth flow of trade in the Kingdom and the region, besides its contributions to the growth of the logistics sector.

Commenting on the increase in breakbulk cargo handling, Jay New, CEO of King Abdullah Port, said: “King Abdullah Port’s new record demonstrates its growing significance as a major hub for global trade through the advanced infrastructure and efficient operations. This accomplishment is the result of the team’s efforts to continuously raise the efficiency of our operations and the capabilities of the Kingdom’s logistics sector, by expanding port services in support of Vision 2030 objectives which aim to increase the global competitiveness of the Kingdom’s logistics sector while increasing the percentage of non-oil exports to support the diversification of the national economy.”

The new feat that consists of cement-related, agricultural and steel materials, follows King Abdullah Port’s strong performance in 2020 despite the challenges of the global pandemic, when it recorded a 12.4 percent growth of the bulk and general cargo segment. The port also played a key role in facilitating the flow of various goods to the Kingdom’s vital economic sectors during the pandemic period, thanks to its enhanced operational efficiency, innovative digital initiatives, realigned working practices, and proactive health and safety protocols.

Owned by the Ports Development Company, King Abdullah Port is the region’s first port to be owned, developed, and operated by the private sector. Ranked as the world’s second most efficient port by the World Bank in 2020, the port emerged as one of the world’s top 100 ports within four years of operation. With its strategic location in King Abdullah Economic City — a modern city with a pro-business ecosystem and infrastructure — King Abdullah Port leverages the city’s advanced facilities and services, particularly the Industrial Valley, which has attracted many logistics projects as well as light and medium industries.