OSN commissions first original feature ‘Yellow Bus’

OSN commissions first original feature ‘Yellow Bus’
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Amit Sial as Gagan. (Supplied)
OSN commissions first original feature ‘Yellow Bus’
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Kinda Alloush as Mira. (Supplied)
OSN commissions first original feature ‘Yellow Bus’
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Tannishtha Chatterjee as Ananda. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 January 2022

OSN commissions first original feature ‘Yellow Bus’

OSN commissions first original feature ‘Yellow Bus’
  • Film to premiere on the platform this year after theatrical release

DUBAI: Streaming service OSN, which has been investing heavily in original content, has announced its latest original, “Yellow Bus,” which marks its foray into feature films.

“Yellow Bus” tells the story of a schoolgirl who dies from heat exhaustion after falling asleep on a school bus and is left behind.

The movie follows her mother Ananda, played by Tannishtha Chatterjee, as she searches for the truth about her daughter’s death.

“Yellow Bus” explores universal themes of motherhood, grief and dealing with loss against the backdrop of Gulf culture.

“We were drawn to the story as it works on many levels. It takes you on a heartbreaking roller-coaster of the mother’s desperation, while also covering controversial themes and concepts that are rarely addressed in this region,” said Darine ElKhatib, senior vice president of Arabic services and original production at OSN.

The film is written and directed by Wendy Bednarz, who has previously directed short films such as “On Crystal” and “Leaving Gussie,” and is produced by award-winning Jordanian screenwriter and producer Nadia Eliewat.

In addition to Chatterjee, the cast includes Amit Sial as the father, Gagan, and Kinda Alloush as the school owner, Mira.

“I can’t imagine a mother going through the loss of her child; it was a very emotional role for me to immerse myself in the character. The production of the film and the atmosphere on set were a truthful reflection of real life with its diversity of languages and accents,” said Chatterjee.

Alloush added: “When I read the script’s first 10 pages, I knew I wanted to be a part of this film. It’s a relatable story that can take place anywhere.”

The shooting of the film has been completed, and it will premiere on the platform later in the year after its theatrical release.


e& launches region’s first telco NFT collection

e& launches region’s first telco NFT collection
Updated 5 sec ago

e& launches region’s first telco NFT collection

e& launches region’s first telco NFT collection
  • Inaugural set of non-fungible tokens to be “distributed selectively,” company says

DUBAI: e&, formerly Etisalat Group, has launched its first set of non-fungible tokens, marking the first time a technology and investment conglomerate in the Middle East has launched NFTs.

The inaugural set of NFTs will be “distributed selectively,” according to a company statement, and further updates are expected soon. The move follows the advancement of e&’s blockchain arm, which crossed 10 billion dirhams ($2.72 billion) in transactions last year.

“The digital transformation that we are experiencing on all fronts will accelerate our quest to innovate,” said Hatem Dowidar, the group CEO of e&.

“The metaverse is opening up several avenues for us to investigate the digital realm in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago,” he added. “At this defining moment in our journey, we are proud to leverage our legacy in blockchain-enabled tech to launch pioneering NFTs that allow us and our customers to explore the limitless potential that the metaverse holds.”

The designs of the NFTs were sourced in the UAE as “we are keen to support the local development of new products, technologies and solutions,” Dowidar said.

NFTs have gained popularity as digital assets that transcend different sectors in recent years. They encompass a range of subjects from art to music, gaming and multimedia and are regularly bought online.

The NFT market was reported to be worth $41 billion in 2021, according to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.

Dowidar said: “We live in the renaissance of connectivity where we must capitalize on every opportunity that strengthens our continued leadership as the champion digital telco in a hyper-connected world.”


Meta announces update of its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service

Meta announces update of its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service
Updated 14 min 27 sec ago

Meta announces update of its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service

Meta announces update of its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service
  • privacy controls, allowing people to make informed decisions using those controls,” Sherman added.  Taking effect on July 26, Meta will start rolling out notifications from Thursday to let users know about the update
  • More information will be provided to users when Meta disables or terminates accounts that violate its community standards

LONDON: Meta announced on Thursday a redesign of its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service with the aim of making it easier and clearer for users to understand how Meta collects, uses and shares data. 

According to Rob Sherman, deputy chief privacy officer at Meta, the redesign allows users to learn more about Meta’s privacy rules and service terms in a more accessible way. 

While the text and design look different, the update does not change Meta’s privacy laws and practices regarding how the platform collects, uses or shares user data. 

“We rewrote the document bringing the language from a college level to secondary school comprehension,” explained Sherman. “To do that, we used shorter sentences, more plain language, and more embedded examples.

“We also redesigned it, making it easier to navigate with bold colors and design cues and breaking the text up with images and even some videos.

“The redesign is really all about making our existing practices easier to understand and navigate, including new privacy controls, allowing people to make informed decisions using those controls,” Sherman added. 

Taking effect on July 26, Meta will start rolling out notifications from Thursday to let users know about the update. 

According to a Meta blog post, the updated Meta Privacy Policy covers Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and other Meta Products but does not cover WhatsApp, Workplace, Free Basics and Messenger Kids.

 

The policy is also translated into over 60 languages, and users will be notified periodically of the update but are not required to take any action to continue using Meta products. 

In addition to the Privacy Policy update, Meta announced a similar update of its Terms of Service, allowing users to access this information in a more accessible and transparent way. 

For example, more information will be provided to users when Meta disables or terminates accounts that violate its community standards. 


Protect role of ethics in AI future, UAE minister tells Davos

Protect role of ethics in AI future, UAE minister tells Davos
Updated 25 May 2022

Protect role of ethics in AI future, UAE minister tells Davos

Protect role of ethics in AI future, UAE minister tells Davos
  • As a leading country in artificial intelligence, the UAE is working on integrating AI in all sectors of the economy and society

LONDON: The future of the artificial intelligence sector could be threatened by ignorance in decision-making processes, the UAE minister for AI, digital economy and remote work applications has said.

Speaking at a panel session titled “Responsible AI for Societal Gains” at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, Omar Sultan Al-Olama said: “We (in the UAE) have signed a strategic agreement with the University of Oxford to send government officials, CTOs and directors to school for an eight-month course to understand what the ethics of AI are, understand good uses of AI and the value of AI.”

He added: “People who are going to be pressing the button on whether to deploy AI or not are people who usually have no idea what ethics mean, what the repercussions are and what the long term implications of these technologies are.”

The session was moderated by Kriss Deiglmeier, chief social impact officer at Splunk.

As a leading country in artificial intelligence, the UAE is working on integrating AI in all sectors of the economy and society.

Al-Olama gave the example of the UAE’s successful vaccine rollout to show how the proper use of AI could produce positive results.

He said that in order to develop AI solutions to problems and improve quality of life, technology should be deployed more often in government “to tailor the government service and make it more proactive rather than reactive.”

Al-Olama stressed the need to form an incentive alignment between all governments to solve problems. “Let’s align the incentives. If we do that, we’re going to have people looking at actual AI solutions that change the world for everyone.”

The panel also featured global AI experts, including Stuart Russell, professor of computer science in UC Berkeley; Joanna Shields, CEO of BenevolentAI; and Vilas Dhar, president and trustee of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.


WEF panel discusses what the metaverse is and how it can be regulated

WEF panel discusses what the metaverse is and how it can be regulated
Updated 18 min 7 sec ago

WEF panel discusses what the metaverse is and how it can be regulated

WEF panel discusses what the metaverse is and how it can be regulated
  • Three-dimensional, borderless world holds as many opportunities as challenges, Davos forum hears
  • For Meta’s chief product officer Chris Cox, the metaverse is the “next chapter, the next evolution of the internet except it’s the part where it gets less flat”

DAVOS: The metaverse is the new buzzword, but what is it?

Experts at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos convened in a panel titled “Shaping a Shared Future: Making the Metaverse” to discuss what the metaverse is, how to build it and, most importantly, how to regulate it.

For Meta’s chief product officer Chris Cox, the metaverse is the “next chapter, the next evolution of the internet except it’s the part where it gets less flat.” It is a way of describing the internet’s transition into a three-dimensional environment, he said.

On the other hand, “For me, the metaverse was this idea of a place that was somehow simulated on computers that were connected by the internet,” said Philip Rosedale co-founder of High Fidelity and founder of Second Life, a metaverse that allows people to create avatars of themselves and lead a “second life” in the virtual world.

Much of the metaverse’s perception seems to be centered around virtual reality. But, truly, the metaverse is “a seamless integration of your digital and physical worlds,” said Peggy Johnson, CEO of Magic Leap.

That sentiment was echoed by Omar Sultan Al-Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, Office of the Prime Minister of the UAE.

“We can (now) imagine a new paradigm between the virtual and the physical, which is augmented reality and create a bridge that we could never have imagined in the past,” he said.

The metaverse’s ambition to be a borderless, unifying space for people around the world makes it particularly challenging to regulate, given that every country has its own rules.

“There are different types of risks that we need to pay attention to,” said Al-Olama.

Some of the risks relate to financial transactions or scams that exist between the physical and virtual worlds, while others are more extreme, such as violence in the metaverse, which can be even more terrifying than violent content that currently exists in the digital space.

Al-Olama added that there needs to be a nongovernmental body, such as the UN, that sets standards.

Cox agreed, saying: “We’re already managing, as are most internet companies, the reality that you want companies to have their own community standards, but (we) also recognize that that exists in tension with national laws and in some cases, as we’re beginning to see, state laws.”

With most things in life, be it work or university, people receive some sort of orientation. However, that has never been the case with the internet, Al-Olama said.

“There needs to be a way for us to orient people” on how to use the internet, and this should be part of a child’s basic education in every school in the world, he said.

“Certain business models made sense for the internet and social media. For the metaverse, we need to actually take them to the next level.”


MBC Group, BitOasis partner to launch crypto education across MENA

MBC Group, BitOasis partner to launch crypto education across MENA
Updated 25 May 2022

MBC Group, BitOasis partner to launch crypto education across MENA

MBC Group, BitOasis partner to launch crypto education across MENA
  • UAE-based BitOasis has become the region’s largest crypto trading platform, recording over $4 billion in trading volume to date
  • As part of the partnership, BitOasis will launch region-wide crypto education initiatives that will be featured across MBC Group’s portfolio of TV channels and digital platforms

DUBAI: MBC Group has signed a strategic partnership with crypto-asset trading platform and virtual asset service provider BitOasis to drive customer awareness and adoption.

“We’re witnessing the fast speed at which our region is embracing and adopting the blockchain and Web 3 technologies. Seeing as how cryptocurrencies are essential to this ecosystem, we see this partnership as a natural progression as we usher in this new era,” said Fadel Zahreddine, group director of emerging media at MBC Group.

UAE-based BitOasis has become the region’s largest crypto trading platform, recording over $4 billion in trading volume to date. As part of the partnership, BitOasis will launch region-wide crypto education initiatives that will be featured across MBC Group’s portfolio of TV channels and digital platforms.

The MENAT region’s cryptocurrency market grew by 1500 percent between July 2020 and June 2021, according to The Chainalysis 2021 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report. 

“In countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, crypto assets are steadily going mainstream due to early adoption by tech-savvy Millennial and Gen Z retail investors, but a massive majority across the region still do not have a good understanding of this emerging asset class,” explained Ola Doudin, CEO and co-founder of BitOasis.

For example, 18 percent of Saudi residents are currently trading in crypto while 21 percent in the UAE intend to invest in it in the next year, according to a YouGov survey.

Doudin said that the company has an “obligation” to address the gap by ramping up efforts “to ensure consumers are aware and educated about investing in crypto across our region whilst offering the simplest and most accessible way to invest.”

“Our goal is to bridge the crypto knowledge gap, and our partnership with MBC will help us realize this goal,” said Srinu Chowhan, vice president of marketing and growth at BitOasis.

He added: “BitOasis’s crypto awareness initiatives will help demystify blockchain and crypto assets, and MBC’s media platforms will play a key role in ensuring this educational content reaches across the region.”