People with hearing disabilities to experience Saudi anthem at this year’s National Day

People with hearing disabilities to experience Saudi anthem at this year’s National Day
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The flag features multi-force sensors woven into the fabric of a Saudi Arabian flag. (Supplied)
People with hearing disabilities to experience Saudi anthem at this year’s National Day
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The flag features multi-force sensors woven into the fabric of a Saudi Arabian flag. (Supplied)
People with hearing disabilities to experience Saudi anthem at this year’s National Day
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The flag features multi-force sensors woven into the fabric of a Saudi Arabian flag. (Supplied)
People with hearing disabilities to experience Saudi anthem at this year’s National Day
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Updated 23 September 2022

People with hearing disabilities to experience Saudi anthem at this year’s National Day

People with hearing disabilities to experience Saudi anthem at this year’s National Day
  • Haptic technology used to create immersive flag experience, bringing music to life

LONDON: The King Salman Center for Disability Research and Saudi Research & Media Group announced on Thursday the launch of cutting-edge haptic technology that allows people with hearing disabilities to experience the Kingdom’s national anthem.

The two companies have teamed up to design a wearable “hearing flag” that enables people to “feel” the song as part of a campaign celebrating Saudi Arabia’s 92nd National Day.

The flag features multi-force sensors woven into the fabric of a Saudi Arabian flag, to create an immersive experience that brings music to life in a way that can be felt physically on the body.

“Using the ‘hearing flag,’ people can immerse themselves in sound through real-time touch haptics which recreate the sensation of sound on the body,” said the two companies in a statement.

King Salman Center for Disability Research tweeted from its official account: “Have you heard of a sound that gives life? Have you heard of a flag that sings to the nation?”

The campaign, which is a partnership between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, highlights how Saudi National Day “symbolizes the spirit of cooperation and empowerment of all members of society.”

To promote the initiative, King Salman Center for Disability Research and SRMG also launched an emotional campaign film across social media platforms depicting people’s first encounters with the flag and their own national anthem.

The flag, born out an idea by SRMG, was produced by London-based wearable technology brand CuteCircuit, which pioneers smart textile and interactive fashion.


TikTok to partner with TalkShopLive for US live shopping

TikTok to partner with TalkShopLive for US live shopping
Updated 03 October 2022

TikTok to partner with TalkShopLive for US live shopping

TikTok to partner with TalkShopLive for US live shopping
  • TalkShopLive's “live streaming, social buying and selling platform” will allow users to buy products through links on the app during live broadcasts

LONDON: TikTok is due to enter a partnership with Los Angeles-based TalkShopLive to launch its live shopping platform in North America by outsourcing its operation, the Financial Times reported on Saturday citing two people familiar with the operations.
The companies are still finalizing the arrangements, the FT report said, adding that no contracts have been signed so far.
TikTok did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment while a representative for TalkShopLive declined to comment.
Bytedance-owned TikTok’s live shopping platform TikTok Shop is available in Asian markets including Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. It was launched in the UK last year, according to the report.
TikTok Shop allows users to buy products through links on the app during live broadcasts, and the Los Angeles based TalkShopLive app works on a similar concept. TalkShopLive describes itself as a “live streaming, social buying and selling platform,” on its website.
TalkShopLive signed an agreement with US retailer Walmart last year to provide shoppable content through embeddable videos across Walmart.com.
The reported partnership comes at a time when TikTok, which counts the United States as its largest market, is facing scrutiny from US lawmakers questioning the Chinese-owned app’s safeguards of user data.


Inspiring ‘Passion for Reading’ and Fostering Cultural Exchange: Introducing the Media Partnership between the Riyadh International Book Fair 2022 and SRMG

Inspiring ‘Passion for Reading’ and Fostering Cultural Exchange: Introducing the Media Partnership between the Riyadh International Book Fair 2022 and SRMG
Updated 30 September 2022

Inspiring ‘Passion for Reading’ and Fostering Cultural Exchange: Introducing the Media Partnership between the Riyadh International Book Fair 2022 and SRMG

Inspiring ‘Passion for Reading’ and Fostering Cultural Exchange: Introducing the Media Partnership between the Riyadh International Book Fair 2022 and SRMG

RIYADH: For the second year in a row, the Saudi Research and Media Group - SRMG announced its active participation in the Riyadh International Book Fair 2022, as the Official Media Partner. This renewed partnership between the two entities aims at inspiring and motivating readers to increase their passion for reading, in addition to fostering cultural exchange.

During the Book Fair - held in the Saudi capital Riyadh, from September 29 to October 8, 2022 - the Group will provide extensive coverage of the fair and its events, coupled with interactive programs and activities, through more than 30 SRMG participating media outlets and platforms – thus inspiring audiences and interested prospects, in several languages.

And for the first time, Arabic editions of global publications and titles from Raff Publishing will also be revealed, including a variety of books.

In this context, Jomana R. Alrashid, CEO of SRMG, said: “The Riyadh International Book Fair is a key cultural event and falls in line with the Group’s commitment to supporting knowledge economies and stimulating creativity and innovation, in KSA and beyond. Therefore, our renewed partnership highlights the on-going role SRMG media outlets and platforms play in providing unique and distinctive coverage of the fair and its visitors.”

The fair, in its current edition, will witness the reveal by SRMG’s ”Raff Publishing” of a variety of books, representing its first series of publications, including Arabic editions of global publications and book titles. These will come to further enrich Arabic content, through the works by prominent Saudi and Arab writers. In its designated space - located next to the VIP entrance of the Fair – “Raff Publishing” will also offer special events, unique and interactive digital experiences. The publishing house will also highlight its collabs with emerging and established writers.

On its part, SRMG’s “Manga Alarabia” will present several initiatives, including specialized workshops, an interactive photo booth, and a selection of its most prominent publications, in addition to offering activities for children in the Book Fair’s dedicated pavilion.

As far as SRMG’s “Thmanyah”– the market leader in podcasts and documentary film production – is concerned, it will have its own dedicated studio to conduct interviews with VIPs and distinguished guests.

It is noteworthy that the annual Riyadh International Book Fair is one of the most prominent Arab book fairs in terms of number of visitors, sales volume, and the diversity of its cultural programs; as well as the participation of the most prestigious local, regional and international publishing houses. The fair also represents a platform for companies and individuals working &/or interested in the knowledge, literature, publishing and translation sectors, to present their works, books and offerings.


Spotify’s new report delves into how UAE’s Gen Zs are driving culture

Spotify’s new report delves into how UAE’s Gen Zs are driving culture
Updated 30 September 2022

Spotify’s new report delves into how UAE’s Gen Zs are driving culture

Spotify’s new report delves into how UAE’s Gen Zs are driving culture
  • Annual Culture Next report reveals the behaviors, attitudes and mindsets of GenZs in the UAE

DUBAI: Spotify has released the UAE edition of its annual global culture and trends report, Culture Next.

In the fourth edition of the report, the second to feature the UAE, Spotify delves deeper into the behaviors, attitudes and mindsets of their largest audience segment, Generation Z (aged 15 to 25), and how they differ from Generation Y, known as millennials (26 to 40).

In 2021, Gen Zs globally streamed music more often than they used any other media (including videos, games, and TV), and shared more Spotify playlists and engaged in more group listening sessions than any other generation, according to the report.

In the first quarter of 2022 alone, 18 to 24-year-olds have played more than 578 billion minutes of music on Spotify — more than any other segment, and roughly 16 billion more minutes than millennials, or 25 to 34-year-olds, around the world.

“Audio has always been part of our lives,” Mark Abou Jaoude, Spotify’s head of music in the Middle East and North Africa, told Arab News.

“Streaming is being seen more and more as a key driver for discovery and the formation of a global community that identifies with one another through audio. It’s a way of self-expression and it's screenless,” he added.

Video, as a format, has grown in popularity in recent times, spurred by short-form video such as that on TikTok and Instagram’s Reels.

Jaoude, however, stresses the importance of audio, particularly for Gen Zs. “A video with no audio is hard to comprehend, for example, but a pure audio piece is not. Audio enriches storytelling,” he said.

The report highlights key differences between Gen Zs and millennials, with the former having gone from an “emerging” generation to the “center stage of culture.”

Firstly, while both generations are stressed, Gen Zs are more so. “Millennials were raised in a boom, Zs in a bust,” said Jaoude. They have experienced significant downturns associated with the crash of 2008 and later COVID-19, which they experienced mostly as adults, he explained.

In this environment, they are turning to audio as a safe space. Fifty-nine percent of 18 to 24-year-olds in the UAE said they turn to podcasts to get answers to hard or personal questions before talking to their families about it, and 66 percent said they listen to podcasts to inform the conversations they have with their friends.

Moreover, according to 68 percent of Gen Zs in the UAE, audio helps them understand themselves better, and 80 percent said it allows them to explore different sides of their personality.

All of this means that for Gen Zs, audio has always been a part of their lives, and they use it for everything from creativity and self-expression, to discovering aspects of their own personality.

The second factor setting Gen Zs apart is that they are “the most racially and culturally diverse generation and therefore they demand this diversity be reflected through their lifestyle, the brands they engage with, social media and the audio they consume,” according to Jaoude.

Self-expression and creativity are core to this generation and so, “they lean into music, artists, podcasts, and playlists to shape the stories they tell about themselves,” he added.

FASTFACTS

66 percent listen to podcasts to inform the conversations they have with their friends.

82 percent said they had learned something about themselves by looking back on their listening habits.

74 percent believe that their listening habits tell a story about who they are.

78 percent listen to music from movies or shows because they like to feel like they are a character in the story.

71 percent like listening to and watching media from earlier decades because it reminds them of when things were simpler.

75 percent like it when brands bring back old aesthetic styles.

72 percent love it when brands produce retro products or content.

For instance, 82 percent in the UAE said they had learned something about themselves by looking back on their listening habits, and 74 percent believe that their listening habits tell a story about who they are.

It might appear that they are self-involved, but according to the report, they are driving the “main-character energy” trend, in which people use social media or digital audio to make themselves feel like the center of attention. This is evident in the popularity of playlists like “My Life is a Movie” and ones containing “POV” in the title.

Seventy-eight percent of Gen Zs in the UAE listen to music from movies or shows because “they like to feel like they are a character in the story,” according to Jaoude, and 79 percent of all Spotify playlists globally with “POV” in the title were created by Gen Zs.

Jaoude said: “They are experts in structuring and communicating their individual stories through playlists. They create their own playlists on Spotify and even use collaborative playlist features to ask their friends and community to exchange songs.”

While millennials are known for being nostalgic, Gen Zs go even further down memory lane, he added. They are “reinventing nostalgia” by filtering pop culture “through a contemporary perspective to access and inspire something new and unique to them,” he said.

Millennials are nostalgic for the times they have lived through; Gen Zs, on the other hand, are nostalgic for eras that offer some form of reprieve from current times, which they find stressful and anxiety-inducing.

“Among Zs, the past is all fuel for the future — and that is true for more than music,” Jaoude said.

It is why 71 percent of Gen Zs in UAE said they like listening to and watching media from earlier decades — because it reminds them of when things were simpler, and 75 percent like it when brands bring back old aesthetic styles, while 72 percent love it when brands produce retro products or content.

“You will see that movement in today’s fashion and the sound of music; there’s a lot of borrowing from previous eras and artists add their personal flair or vision to that sound,” said Jaoude.

Gen Zs’ unique problems, and habits, provide an untapped opportunity for marketers. As Jaoude said: “They are seeking new opportunities to share themselves through audio — and looking to brands to help make it happen.”

Forty-nine percent in the UAE said they like being able to select the ad they listen to on a digital audio streaming service, and more than a third said they like it when they can interact with ads.

For example, Spotify worked with Adidas on the “Nite Jogger” campaign where they created a custom digital experience that gleaned the “sonic traits” of listeners’ nighttime streaming activity to create a custom playlist unique to each individual. The campaign racked up 32.4 million impressions and over 9 million unique visitors.

“While brands of the past may have prioritized keeping an iron grip over their messaging, there’s a huge opportunity to connect with the next generation by handing the reins over to them and allowing them to customize their experience — especially in the space of audio,” said Jaoude.
 


CPJ calls on Iran to investigate if journalists are being targeted by Iranian forces

CPJ calls on Iran to investigate if journalists are being targeted by Iranian forces
Updated 30 September 2022

CPJ calls on Iran to investigate if journalists are being targeted by Iranian forces

CPJ calls on Iran to investigate if journalists are being targeted by Iranian forces
  • The call comes after a journalist in Iraqi Kurdistan was injured during Iranian strikes on the region

DUBAI: Kurdistan 24’s media team came under attack while covering Iranian drone and missile attacks on Iranian-Kurdish opposition parties based in the Kurdistan Region on Sept. 28, according to the broadcaster.

In a statement, the Erbil-based media company said that its correspondent Soran Kamaran was seriously injured, adding: “We reiterate that Kurdistan 24 is continuing its professional coverage of the events. And we hope all sides in the conflict avoid targeting journalists and media workers.”

The cameraman with Kamaran was not hurt, Kurdistan 24’s newsroom manager and anchor, Kovan Izzat, told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). But, Kamaran was taken to a hospital in Erbil, where he underwent two surgeries, Izzat said.

The media watchdog has called on Iran to investigate if journalists are being targeted by Iranian forces.

“Iran’s drone strikes inevitably cause civilian casualties, including those of journalists documenting the attacks,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s MENA program coordinator. “Iranian and Kurdish authorities must take serious measures to avoid harming civilians and to hold anyone violating international law accountable.”

The Kurdistan Regional Government also strongly condemned the “repetitive (Iranian) violations of the sovereignty of the Kurdistan Region,” reported Kurdistan 24.

At least seven people have been killed and 24 injured as a result of Iran’s attacks, according to Dr. Saman Barzinji, the minister of health for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq.

On Sept. 28, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq said that “rocket diplomacy is a reckless act with devastating consequences,” adding that “these attacks need to cease immediately.”

CPJ could not find a contact for Kamaran’s family immediately. The organization reached out to the Iranian UN mission for comment but has not received a response.

 


TikTok launches Creator Hub program in UAE and Egypt

TikTok launches Creator Hub program in UAE and Egypt
Updated 29 September 2022

TikTok launches Creator Hub program in UAE and Egypt

TikTok launches Creator Hub program in UAE and Egypt
  • The new initiative aims to identify talented creators and connect them with the right mentors and skill-building experts
  • The annual competition requires creators to produce a creative content idea around a specific theme

DUBAI: TikTok has announced the launch of the inaugural TikTok Creator Hub program in the UAE and Egypt.

The new initiative aims to identify talented creators and connect them with the right mentors and skill-building experts to support and nurture their skills.

The annual competition requires creators to produce a creative content idea around a specific theme.

A group of judges, including top TikTok content creators from across the MENA region, will assess the skills of the creators and provide them with the required learning to help elevate their content, as well as advise them on their career as a creator.

Inspired by the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference of Parties — COP27 — held in Egypt in November, this year’s theme is climate change.

“With the launch of the inaugural edition of TikTok Creator Hub, we aim to generate awareness and advocacy around causes and pressing issues that touch the community, securing a dedicated destination for content creation and conversations focused on the most important societal issues of our time, such as climate change,” said Tarek Abdalla, regional general manager at TikTok Middle East, Africa, Turkiye, Pakistan and South Asia.

The theme also aligns with TikTok’s launch of the #ClimateAction program in support of COP27 in the MENA region, which is a campaign encouraging TikTok users to join the climate conversation.

The TikTok Creator Hub program is divided into three phases, which include online learning modules, a live training session and the judging process to name the winner of the competition.

Once the creators have been shortlisted, TikTok will host a welcome workshop in collaboration with celebrity creators to introduce them to the TikTok Creator Hub concept.

TikTok will also host a live training day, enabling creators to spend one live session with a creator mentor, ahead of their creation of a TikTok focused on climate change, which will be submitted for the judging process.

Lastly, the judges will choose the winning entries, which will be announced in November.

Creators living in the UAE and Egypt who would like to participate can visit the TikTok MENA Creator Hub website MENATikTokCreatorHub.com to register and share a 30-60 second video on why they want to be part of the program for a chance to be selected.

Registration closes on Oct. 10.