Saudi Aramco enters Kantar BrandZ’s Top 20 Most Valuable Global Brands 2022

Saudi Aramco enters Kantar BrandZ’s Top 20 Most Valuable Global Brands 2022
Short Url
Updated 21 June 2022

Saudi Aramco enters Kantar BrandZ’s Top 20 Most Valuable Global Brands 2022

Saudi Aramco enters Kantar BrandZ’s Top 20 Most Valuable Global Brands 2022
  • Aramco becomes only Arab brand in the top 20 with a value of over $99 billion

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s largest integrated energy and chemicals companies, is the highest-placed newcomer on the Kantar BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands 2022 rankings.

With a value of more than $99 billion, it claimed 16th position on the list and is the only Middle Eastern company to earn a place in the Top 20. Since its initial public offering in 2019, Aramco has become one of the biggest publicly traded companies by market capitalization.

Nico Stouthart, a senior partner Kantar’s consulting division in New York, and Aramco client lead, said: “I am excited to see Aramco entering the global BrandZ ranking as the highest newcomer at position 16.

“This is very much in line with their exciting ambition to further drive their global presence by pioneering innovative technologies that will positively impact people and the communities they live in.”

Amol Ghate, managing director of the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan for Kantar’s Insights Division, added: “We are excited to see the first brand born in the region enter the top 20 most valuable brands.”

Apple returned to the top the list with a brand value of more than $947 billion and is on track to become the first trillion-dollar brand, according to Kantar. It added that the brand stands out for its high degree of differentiation and continued diversification across its hardware, software and services portfolio.

Google moved up to second place and was one of the fastest risers in the rankings, increasing its brand value by 79 percent to $819.6 billion. Amazon, the top brand on last year’s list, dropped to third with a brand value of $705.6 billion, an increase of 3 percent.

The list is dominated by media, entertainment and technology businesses, with Microsoft and Chinese multimedia company Tencent completing the top five. The consumer technology sector also saw the highest average growth (46 percent) this year, with Nvidia at No. 11 on the list, IBM at No. 18 and Adobe at No. 19.

Among the social media giants, only Facebook and Instagram made it into the top 20, at No. 8 and No. 20 respectively. In the media and entertainment category, the top three of Google, Facebook and Instagram were followed in the top 10 by YouTube, WeChat, Netflix, Disney, LinkedIn, TikTok and Snapchat.

This year’s list also reflects the relative strength of Chinese brands, two of which made the Top 10: Tencent at No. 5 and Alibaba at No. 9. China was also the only market offering any competition to US brands in the media and entertainment category, with WeChat at No. 5 and TikTok at No. 9. 

Brands with a wide-ranging portfolio must innovate and diversify their offerings to grow, Kantar said, as evidenced by brands such as Apple, Google and Amazon that have expanded their services across technology, entertainment and digital payment.

“Strong brand affinity underpins a customer’s willingness to pay and has never been more important for organizations looking to offset spiking inflation,” said Martin Guerrieria, the head of Kantar BrandZ.

“This year’s results show us the value of continued investment in brand and marketing capabilities as a means of maximizing business returns, irrespective of market conditions.”

The combined value of the world’s Top 100 most valuable brands increased by 23 percent to $8.7 trillion over the past year, Kantar said, highlighting the importance of brand strength in navigating an unsettled global economy.

This year, brands needed to exceed a total valuation of $21.219 billion to earn a place on the list and qualify as one of the world’s biggest brands, a threshold that has increased more than fourfold since the debut of the list in 2006.


Hamas issues, then rescinds, sweeping rules on Gaza coverage

Hamas issues, then rescinds, sweeping rules on Gaza coverage
Updated 10 August 2022

Hamas issues, then rescinds, sweeping rules on Gaza coverage

Hamas issues, then rescinds, sweeping rules on Gaza coverage
  • The Foreign Press Association, which represents international media, including The Associated Press, said the guidelines were rescinded after discussions with authorities in Gaza

TEL AVIV, Israel: Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers issued sweeping new restrictions on journalists after the recent conflict there, but then rescinded them, a group representing foreign media in Israel and the Palestinian territories said Tuesday.
Palestinians who work with foreign journalists were first informed of the new rules earlier this week in messages sent by the Hamas-run Interior Ministry. They were ordered not to report on Gazans killed by misfired Palestinian rockets or the military capabilities of Palestinian armed groups, and were told to blame Israel for the recent escalation.
The Foreign Press Association, which represents international media, including The Associated Press, said the guidelines were rescinded after discussions with authorities in Gaza.
The FPA said in a statement that “such a move would have constituted a severe, unacceptable and unjustifiable restriction on the freedom of the press, as well as the safety of our colleagues in Gaza,“
Salama Marouf, director of the government media office in Gaza, confirmed the reversal. “There are no restrictions,” he said. “We welcome all foreign journalists and media into Gaza and we call on them to come.”
The rules would have gone much further than existing Hamas restrictions. They appeared aimed at imposing the Islamic militant group’s narrative on media coverage of the conflict by implicitly threatening Palestinian reporters and translators who live under its heavy-handed rule.
Even if the rules are officially withdrawn, Hamas has still signaled its expectations, which could have a chilling effect on critical coverage.
In the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both sides have attempted to impose their narratives and limit negative coverage. Israel, which portrays itself as the only democracy in the Middle East, has a military censor who sometimes imposes gag orders. Israeli authorities also restrict media access to military activities and the country’s nuclear program.
Hamas’ attempt this week to muzzle the foreign media came after it sat out the latest conflict with Israel. The decision to stay on the sidelines likely reflects Hamas’ desire to preserve economic understandings with Israel that have somewhat eased a 15-year blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Hamas takeover.
After a Gaza cease-fire took hold Monday, following three days of fighting between Israel and Hamas’ smaller sister group Islamic Jihad, the Interior Ministry distributed a written copy of the rules to Palestinians applying for entry permits on behalf of foreign media outlets, with instructions to communicate them to the foreign journalists in their “own local way.”
Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007 from rival Palestinian forces, requires all visiting reporters to have a local sponsor — usually a Palestinian journalist or translator hired by the news outlet.
Under the now rescinded restrictions, sponsors were told they must accompany the journalists during their reporting and will be held responsible for what they produce. The sponsors were warned that they must “demonstrate national spirit, defend the Palestinian narrative and reject the foreigner’s bias to the Israeli narrative.”
They would have also been required to inform Hamas of “any suspicious behavior or illogical questions” outside the scope of journalistic work, and to submit a full report to Hamas of what the journalists did in Gaza, in addition to links to all published works.
The guidelines appeared to suggest that writing about forbidden topics like the rocket misfires — or about the media guidelines themselves — could have led to the revocation of local sponsorship. For a Palestinian journalist in Gaza, that would have meant the loss of vital income in a blockaded territory where unemployment hovers around 50 percent.
In many respects, Gaza became a much safer place for reporters after the Hamas takeover, when the group imposed order and put an end to kidnappings and factional violence. But as Hamas consolidated control — and went on to fight four wars and countless smaller battles with Israel — it steadily imposed more and more restrictions on media.
In recent years, Hamas has required journalists to apply for advance approval to film in certain locations, such as the Gaza fishing port, the beach and the gold market.
Hamas has also barred Palestinians from working for Israeli media or providing services to them. Palestinians are also barred from giving interviews to Israeli outlets.


Twitter says loading issues fixed after user complaints

Twitter says loading issues fixed after user complaints
Updated 09 August 2022

Twitter says loading issues fixed after user complaints

Twitter says loading issues fixed after user complaints
  • More than 27,000 users had reported outage of the service, according to Downdetector.com
  • The outage started at 1.50 p.m. ET and had as many as 35,000 reports at its peak

LONDON: Twitter Inc. said on Tuesday it had fixed issues after thousands of users reported that they were having trouble accessing the micro-blogging platform.
More than 27,000 users had reported outage of the service, according to Downdetector.com, a website which tracks outages by collating status reports from a number of sources including user-submitted errors on its platform.
The outage started at 1.50 p.m. ET and had as many as 35,000 reports at its peak.
“We fixed it! We made an internal systems change that didn’t go as planned and have rolled it back. Twitter should now be loading as expected. Sorry about that!,” Twitter said in a tweet.
This was the second outage in as many months.
The social media company is in a legal tussle with Tesla boss Elon Musk over his $44 billion takeover deal.
Last month, Twitter users faced a nearly three-hour outage in July, with the San Francisco-based company saying it had some trouble with its internal systems that impacted many globally.
Notorious for outages in its early years, Twitter was known for using its popular “Fail Whale” illustration, which showed a beluga whale being lifted by birds, during such incidents.
Twitter users took to Reddit to complain about the outage, with many users saying all they could see was the Twitter logo when they tried to log in.
“There is no Twitter to find out why Twitter isn’t working” one user joked on a Reddit channel dedicated to Twitter.
Twitter had suffered another widespread outage in February that it blamed on a software glitch.
Other big technology companies have also been hit by outages in the past year, with a near six-hour disruption at Meta Platforms keeping WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger out of reach for billions of users in October.


WhatsApp announces new features to protect user privacy

WhatsApp announces new features to protect user privacy
Updated 09 August 2022

WhatsApp announces new features to protect user privacy

WhatsApp announces new features to protect user privacy

LONDON: WhatsApp on Tuesday introduced a range of new features aimed at protecting users’ privacy, allowing them to control who can see their online status and block screenshots on “View Once” messages.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said this would help keep WhatsApp messaging “as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.”

Ami Vora, WhatsApp’s head of product, said the platform is focused on building features that “empower people to have more control and privacy over their messages.”

“Over the years, we’ve added interlocking layers of protection to help keep their conversations secure, and the new features are one way we continue to deliver on our commitment to keep messages private,” she said.

The features, to be rolled out later in August, will allow users to leave group chats silently, control who can see their online status and block screenshots on “View Once” messages.

In its current format, WhatsApp alerts all members of a group chat to someone leaving or being removed by default.

The change will allow users to leave the group silently, without notifying other group members and only alerting group administrators.

Additionally, the update will give users the option to allow only certain contacts — or no one — to see when they are active on the platform, bringing online status options into alignment with “last seen” settings.

WhatsApp will also allow users to block screenshots of disappearing messages, which is currently being tested and will be available “soon,” according to the platform.

The rollout comes as Meta faces growing criticism that its privacy features could be abused by people seeking to evade law enforcement.


Rights group condemns Israeli targeting of three Palestinian journalists

AFP photojournalist Ahmed Gharabli is taken out by Israeli police officers from Jerusalem's old city, on August 7, 2022. (AFP)
AFP photojournalist Ahmed Gharabli is taken out by Israeli police officers from Jerusalem's old city, on August 7, 2022. (AFP)
Updated 09 August 2022

Rights group condemns Israeli targeting of three Palestinian journalists

AFP photojournalist Ahmed Gharabli is taken out by Israeli police officers from Jerusalem's old city, on August 7, 2022. (AFP)
  • Reporters Without Borders said: ‘Not only do Israeli citizens attack Palestinian reporters ... the Israeli police do not react. And worse still, it is the journalists who are arrested’
  • The three journalists were attacked and arrested while covering the unrest last weekend following Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip

LONDON: Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday condemned Israeli authorities for the “unacceptable targeting” of Palestinian journalists covering the recent violent clashes in Jerusalem.

“It is sad to see that Palestinian journalists are still easy targets because they are Palestinians,” the organization’s Middle East desk said.

“Not only do Israeli citizens attack Palestinian reporters while they are working but the Israeli police do not react. And worse still, it is the journalists who are arrested.”

Three Palestinian journalists were attacked and arrested while covering the unrest last weekend following Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Agence France-Presse photographer Ahmad Gharabli was detained by Israeli police. Mohammed Ashu, a reporter for satellite news channel Al-Mayadeen, was attacked by an Israeli settler who hit him with the handle of a flag. Ashu was then surrounded, his camera was stolen and he was detained by the police. Both of the journalists were released later the same day.

Photojournalist Ghassan Abou Eid was attacked by an Israeli settler in a residential district of East Jerusalem. A video shared on social media showed the settler grab Abou Eid’s camera while his back was turned and damage it. A nearby Israeli police officer failed to intervene.

Israeli authorities launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip last Friday to prevent what they referred to as “an imminent attack from Gaza.” The strikes resulted in the deaths of 44 Palestinians and the destruction of several residential buildings and militant bases.

Israeli authorities and Palestinians agreed a ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, on Sunday after three days of violence.

 


Snap to open office in Doha

Snap to open office in Doha
Updated 09 August 2022

Snap to open office in Doha

Snap to open office in Doha
  • Social media giant signs deal with Qatar’s Government Communications Office to open new office

DUBAI: Snap Inc. is expanding its presence in the Middle East by signing a memorandum of understanding with Qatar’s Government Communications Office to open a new office in Doha.

This comes as part of the company’s efforts to support and create opportunities for Snapchat users in Qatar, as well as work closely with local partners and businesses, the company said.

“Snapchat has a highly engaged community in Qatar, and we are delighted to announce our expanding presence in MENA with the opening of a new office in Doha, which reflects our support to Qatar’s growing and vibrant digital landscape,” said Hussein Freijeh, general manager of Snap Inc. in the Middle East.

“We are pleased to welcome Snap Inc to Qatar and look forward to seeing the Snap community grow,” said Sheikh Jassim bin Mansour bin Jabor Al-Thani, director of the Government Communications Office.

“The new office and strategic partnership will help them reach one of the most vibrant and digitally enabled knowledge economies in the region and will allow our citizens to continue to engage with dynamic technology for creative and commercial uses,” he added.

The company is in the process of hiring a local team to run the day-to-day operations of the Doha office.