Sustainability, AI among key Mideast travel trends: report

Sustainability, AI among key Mideast travel trends: report
Artificial intelligence will become a key tool for holiday planning — with half of people in both the UAE (52 percent) and the Kingdom (50 percent) already using it for this purpose.
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Updated 13 December 2023
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Sustainability, AI among key Mideast travel trends: report

Sustainability, AI among key Mideast travel trends: report

Travelers from the UAE and Saudi Arabia plan to increase their spending on breaks and holidays over the next three years and will have more of an eye on sustainability than ever before. In fact, most now check the sustainability of their travel plans, and are prepared to pay over 20 percent more for environmentally-friendly accommodation.

Meanwhile, artificial intelligence will become a key tool for holiday planning — with half of people in both the UAE (52 percent) and the Kingdom (50 percent) already using it for this purpose. Moreover, “dupe” destinations — that are similar to traditional holiday destinations but closer and cheaper — will be another key theme.

In addition, “slow holidays” — where travelers take their time, connect with the local culture, disconnect from technology and minimize their impact on the environment — will be another significant trend.

These are the key outtakes from the Middle East findings of Marriott Bonvoy’s 2024 Future Travel Trends research, in collaboration with foresight agency The Future Laboratory, which analyzed the travel plans of 14,000 travelers across Europe and the Middle East over the next three years.

Neal Jones, chief sales and marketing officer, Marriott International — Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Two trends we have seen coming to the fore in particular from the consumer research are sustainability and AI — particularly among younger travelers under the age of 45. Being ecologically responsible is moving from being a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must-have’ for many of these travelers and will only become more so.”

The rise of AI

The era of AI holiday planning is very much here — half or more (52 percent from the UAE and 50 percent from the Kingdom) have used AI to help them plan or research a holiday. Meanwhile, 77 percent in both countries say they are likely to use it in the future, showing the trend is set to grow further still.

Amongst those who did use AI, 95 percent in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia say it influenced their holiday decision in some way. This includes booking the accommodation it recommended, booking the activities it recommended, and booking food it recommended.

Emerging trends

Amongst the emerging travel trends, “slow holidays” are becoming increasingly popular. Four in five travelers from the UAE (82 percent) and 77 percent from the Kingdom say they have already been on a “slow” holiday. Meanwhile, 82 percent from the UAE and 80 percent from the Kingdom say they plan to go on a slow holiday in the next three years.

In addition, “dupe destinations” — such as the vineyards of Northern Spain instead of South Africa or surfing in Portugal instead of Hawaii — will be another key theme.

Solo holidays, something 70 percent of travelers from the UAE and 69 percent from the Kingdom who have been away in the past three years have done in that period, will also continue to be a significant trend, with 70 percent from the UAE and 72 percent from the Kingdom planning to do one.

Changing summer plans

The extremely high temperatures that parts of Europe experienced this summer could be set to impact holiday plans in the coming years for Middle Eastern holidaymakers. Eighty-six percent in the UAE and 83 percent in the Kingdom say that if these temperatures became a regular occurrence, it would impact their summer holiday plans.

Spending and sustainability

More than nine in 10 UAE adults (93 percent) and 89 percent of adults from the Kingdom say they will be going on holiday next year. Of those going on holiday next year, 66 percent from the UAE and 69 percent from the Kingdom say they plan to “spend more than usual” on holidays over the period.

Over the next three years, sustainability will be on the agenda more than ever before. More than eight in 10 from the UAE (83 percent) and a similar number from the Kingdom (78 percent) say they would be happy to pay more for environmentally friendly accommodation.

Value for money

Whilst on the whole spending on holidays is set to increase, travelers will continue to seek good value for money and save where they can. A third of Emirati and Saudi travelers (both 32 percent) will try to save by going on more domestic holidays. And 34 percent from the UAE and 29 percent from the Kingdom will use loyalty programs to pay for some or all of their holiday with points.


Hajj 2024: Zain’s digital solutions to elevate pilgrim experience

Hajj 2024: Zain’s digital solutions to elevate pilgrim experience
Updated 12 June 2024
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Hajj 2024: Zain’s digital solutions to elevate pilgrim experience

Hajj 2024: Zain’s digital solutions to elevate pilgrim experience

Zain KSA, a digital services provider in Saudi Arabia, announced that it has finalized its technical, human, and logistical preparations to service pilgrims in Makkah, Madinah, and the holy sites during the upcoming Hajj season.

Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Amer Al-Swaha, along with Governor of the Communications, Space and Technology Commission Dr. Mohammed Saud Altamimi, and several other officials visited Zain KSA’s headquarters in Mina to oversee the company’s preparations for Hajj. During the visit, Zain KSA highlighted its digital solutions and full 5G coverage of the holy sites.

Zain KSA showcased its exceptional services to the minister of communications and information technology, the CST governor, and the accompanying delegation, underscoring its contributions to the sectors supporting the Hajj pilgrimage. The company also outlined its commitment to enhancing the Hajj season through cutting-edge digital communications infrastructure, addressing the increasing demand for high-speed data access.

This initiative aims to elevate the connectivity experience for visitors, enriching their spiritual journey while aligning with the strategic objectives of Saudi Vision 2030’s Pilgrim Experience Program, which seeks to provide pilgrims with high-quality facilities and advanced infrastructure, bolstered by the latest digital services. Additionally, Zain KSA provided comprehensive insights into its technical and operational preparations, risk management strategies, and the proficiency of its workforce.


Celebrate Eid with tech presents from Logitech

Celebrate Eid with tech presents from Logitech
Updated 12 June 2024
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Celebrate Eid with tech presents from Logitech

Celebrate Eid with tech presents from Logitech

As Eid Al-Adha approaches, families and friends in Saudi Arabia prepare to celebrate with gatherings, feasts, and the tradition of exchanging gifts. In recent years, there has been a growing appetite for the latest tech gadgets among Saudi consumers. Logitech, a leader in personal peripherals, offers an array of innovative products that make perfect gifts for this festive season. Here are some top recommendations from Logitech that blend style, functionality, and comfort, ideal for tech enthusiasts of all ages.

Pebble 2 Combo: sleek, portable and stylish

For those who value minimalist design and portability, the Logitech Pebble 2 Combo is an excellent choice. This combo features a slim, quiet keyboard and a silent, smooth mouse, both designed for on-the-go productivity.

MX Keys S Combo: ultimate professional performance

The MX Keys S Combo is perfect for professionals seeking superior performance. The MX Keys S keyboard offers smart illumination and fluid, quiet typing, while the MX Master 3S mouse provides ultra-fast scrolling and customizable buttons.

MX Anywhere 3s: precision on the go

For the digital nomads and busy professionals, the MX Anywhere 3s mouse is the ultimate portable companion. With advanced tracking technology, it works flawlessly on virtually any surface, including glass. Its compact design ensures it fits easily into any bag, while the MagSpeed scroll wheel offers precise, fast scrolling.

Wave Keys: ergonomic comfort

Logitech’s Wave Keys is designed to provide ergonomic comfort with its distinctive wave-shaped layout. The curved keyboard reduces wrist strain and promotes a natural typing posture, making it ideal for long hours of use.

Lift Mouse: all-day comfort

The Lift Mouse is an ergonomic vertical mouse that promotes a natural handshake position, reducing wrist strain and enhancing comfort. Its unique design is suitable for small to medium-sized hands, providing a tailored fit for optimal control.

Signature Slim K950: sleek and stylish

For those who appreciate sleek and modern design, the Signature Slim K950 keyboard offers a quiet, comfortable typing experience with a slim profile that adds a touch of elegance to any desk setup. Its low-profile keys and seamless Bluetooth connectivity make it a perfect fit for a stylish and functional workspace.


Oman Air, SalamAir expand partnership

Oman Air, SalamAir expand partnership
Updated 12 June 2024
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Oman Air, SalamAir expand partnership

Oman Air, SalamAir expand partnership

Oman Air and SalamAir’s leadership met recently to mark the launch of the airlines’ latest codeshare partnership, which offers passengers an expanded range of travel options within Oman and beyond. During the meeting, the airlines discussed their future prospects as national carriers and their common commitment to supporting the country’s tourism goals as part of Oman’s 2040 Vision.

“We are thrilled to further strengthen our partnership with Oman Air,” said Adrian Hamilton-Manns, CEO of SalamAir.

Con Korfiatis, CEO of Oman Air, said: “This latest development enables us to jointly offer even more choice and schedule options, which both benefit our customers and serve the broader tourism ambitions of the country.”


e& enterprise launches customer service center in Riyadh

e& enterprise launches customer service center in Riyadh
Updated 12 June 2024
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e& enterprise launches customer service center in Riyadh

e& enterprise launches customer service center in Riyadh

e& enterprise has announced the launch of a new Contact and Customer Experience Center in Riyadh. Aligned with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the new facility is designed to take customer experiences to new heights while significantly contributing to the local economy by creating more than 1,500 new jobs at various levels.

The launch took place during a ceremony held by the company on Sunday, in the presence of Deputy Governor of the Communications, Space and Technology Commission Raed Al-Fayez and Deputy Minister Assistant of Future Jobs and Capabilities Safa Alrashed. E& enterprise’s CEO Tariq Alangari welcomed the dignitaries and media representatives to the event.

The new center is a byproduct of e& enterprise’s commitment to advancing the Kingdom’s digital transformation. Equipped with the latest communication technologies, NOC control and high-readiness data centers, the facility meets the Kingdom’s stringent cybersecurity requirements. It adheres to the highest standards of quality, security, and business continuity, ensuring unparalleled customer service.

Tareq Alangari, CEO of e& enterprise, said: “We are thrilled to announce the launch of the new Contact and Customer Experience Center in our continuous efforts to support the digital transformation journey of the Kingdom’s government and private entities, providing them with completely new digital experiences. At e& enterprise KSA, we’re committed to Saudization and the professional development of local talents, contributing to achieving the digital ambitions and goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

e& enterprise’s Contact and Customer Experience Center in Riyadh will be staffed by experts in customer experience and contact center management with technical and practical certificates specialized in quality management, customer, and beneficiary experience. The new facility will also focus on creating a suitable environment for national competencies and promoting investment in the business outsourcing, call centers, and control sector. 

e& enterprise began its operations in Saudi Arabia in 2020 and has since expanded by acquiring several regional and local companies. e& enterprise KSA serves customers in five different sectors: cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, customer experience and call centers, and financial technology.

HelpAG, the cybersecurity arm of e& enterprise, localizes cyber control services for companies and governments through specialized strategic consulting. In cloud computing, e& enterprise acquired the majority stake in Bespin Global, providing digital transformation solutions with expertise in eight countries, including Korea and Japan.

In fintech, Beehive, the first licensed P2P lending platform in the MENA region acquired by e& enterprise in 2023, connects SMEs with investors using innovative technologies and offers Shariah-compliant options. Meanwhile, in IoT, e& enterprise provides advanced IoT services for smart cities, sustainability platforms, and industrial automation. As for customer experience, the company’s engageX platform enhances customer journeys with AI and CPaaS services, supported by skilled contact center personnel.

e& enterprise is a subsidiary of the e& group, which is present in more than 32 countries through various business pillars in communications and information technology. They empower institutions and individuals in the government and private sectors to achieve digital transformation through the latest technology solutions. Committed to driving the Kingdom’s digital revolution, e& enterprise plays a vital role in advancing the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.


Saudi Arabia embraces fitness: GymNation sees record sign-ups

Saudi Arabia embraces fitness: GymNation sees record sign-ups
Updated 12 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia embraces fitness: GymNation sees record sign-ups

Saudi Arabia embraces fitness: GymNation sees record sign-ups

GymNation, a homegrown GCC fitness brand, has announced record-breaking demand from Saudi residents, ahead of the official opening of its first six gym locations in the Kingdom in August.

More than 120,000 people initially registered their interest in the four Jeddah and two Alkhobar locations, with the first phase of 12,000 memberships selling out in under 72 hours, breaking all previous pre-opening sales records for a gym brand in the Middle East. 

Already the UAE’s largest gym brand, GymNation’s launch into Saudi Arabia aligns directly with the ambitions of Vision 2030 and building a strong, happy, and fulfilling society as the foundation for economic prosperity. With physical, psychological, and social well-being at the heart, Vision 2030 aims to promote a society where everyone enjoys a high quality of life, a healthy lifestyle and an attractive living environment.

Loren Holland, founder and CEO, GymNation, said: “The unprecedented number of memberships we have sold in just three days shows the huge demand and interest from citizens and residents in improving their physical and mental health across the Kingdom. At GymNation, we want to provide a far better gym experience at a much more affordable price point than is currently available from the existing operators. We are an inclusive brand that provides a welcoming environment for everyone regardless of ability, shape or size.”

“Our pipeline of new locations across Saudi Arabia is incredibly strong and with the support of our investment partners Tricap Investments and Ruya Partners, we are looking forward to an exciting period of growth and having a similar positive and disruptive impact on the Saudi Arabia fitness scene by breaking down affordability and accessibility barriers, like we did in the UAE.”

The Saudi Sports for All Federation recently launched its 2024 summer campaign, “Move Your World,” to help people engage in physical activities. GymNation’s launch supports the federation’s aims to raise awareness about the benefits of physical activity and help people overcome barriers to healthy living habits.

As the region’s “movement partner,” GymNation will play a leading role in improving the health and well-being for everyone in Saudi Arabia, by making going to the gym less intimidating, more affordable, more accessible and fun for everyone.