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  • “Managed services”: pushing performance boundaries

    by Eva Andren, Head of Managed Services, Ericsson Middle East and Africa

    We are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution. As new technologies like 5G, IoT and cloud gain traction, networks are becoming more complex. It is becoming challenging for humans to keep up with this complexity and keep networks operating at the level prescribed by the evolving services. The potential to change how networks are operated is as dramatic as the machines of the industrial revolution that changed the factory floor.

    Leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and the power of data, the Ericsson Operations Engine is rewriting the rules of network operations. The solution is an end-to-end managed services operating model that reimagines network and IT operations, network design and optimization, and applications development and maintenance.

    Managed services play a significant role in the service providers’ transformation initiatives taking place worldwide. Nearly 65 percent of service providers indicate that managed services are key in addressing their main operational concerns around customer experience – improving customer experience being the number one factor that will influence service providers’ use of managed services – revenue growth and cost efficiency.

    It is also clear that advanced technologies like AI, automation, and analytics represent the underlying pillars for supporting and enabling operational transformation. With the ability to rapidly solve complex challenges, AI is essential to network design, operations, and optimization.

    On the other hand, automation uses technology to remove monotonous, repetitive tasks from traditional ways of working and boosting productivity. With more than 6000 automation rules, the Ericsson Operations Engine drives efficiency at every level of the organization – evolving operations from being network-centric to user experience-centric and fundamentally changing our way of operating networks from reactive to proactive, leveraging data, automation and AI.



    From granular network measurements to aggregated customer experience indicators, data drives everything we do. Growth in data traffic and increased device complexity have challenged service providers on all fronts—demanding new levels of customer experience, efficiency, and innovation. Using AI and automation, the Ericsson Operations Engine processes large, complex data sets to uncover valuable insights and drive new levels of network performance, flexibility, and scalability.

    Designed to help operators manage the networks of the future, the Ericsson Operations Engine has three building blocks:

    • Service-centric business model based on business outcomes: Using AI, automation and data insights, the Ericsson Operations Engine addresses targeted business outcomes for service providers such as enhanced customer experience, revenue growth and efficiency. With deep insights into performance and reliability, service providers are able to pivot and adapt networks to meet the growing demands of customers and enterprises.
    • End-to-end capabilities: Delivering on business outcomes through AI-based design, planning and optimization, data-driven operations, dynamic deployment, applications development, and collaborative innovation. To power everything from dynamic deployment to collaborative innovation, many processes use closed feedback loops to learn and optimize over time, improving operations on-the-fly.
    • Components: Best-in-class tools and processes that leverage data, AI and automation as well as expertise and investments in the service provider domain. Powered by next-generation tools and expertise, it enables service providers to rapidly test, deploy, and scale new products and services.

    Networks are quickly becoming significantly more complex to operate as we introduce IoT and 5G at scale, and virtualize core networks while aiming to enhance the user experience at the same time. Engineered to meet the demands of increased network complexity, the Ericsson Operations Engine combines advanced components and capabilities into one powerful solution. It enables service providers to proactively manage the network and addresses service providers’ managed services complexity challenges as the industry moves to the reality of 5G and IoT.

    The Engine not only enables service providers to impact existing operations but also provides a platform to innovate and nurture new businesses. The OpenWorks lab combines people expertise with best-in-class tools like AI and analytics to rapidly test, deploy, and scale new products and services.

    Driven by business outcomes and with the destination in mind, this is your ultimate Engine to transform best-in-class components into real-world capabilities to deliver powerful results with speed, efficiency, and agility.

    The post “Managed services”: pushing performance boundaries appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • 84% of MENA’s youth: Growth of private sector is the way forward

    A survey conducted by Oliver Wyman in collaboration with INJAZ Al-Arab in the MENA region, has revealed 84% of the region’s youth respondents believe the private sector will continue to grow in the region. More than half (56%) hold a positive opinion on the sector overall – a high ‘approval’ rate for the private sector given the dominant role of the public sector in many countries. The survey evaluated demands of the future labor market and perspectives of the young generation shaping the private sector’s potential contribution to overall economic growth.   

    While 40% of the youth population believe future growth in the private sector will be driven by multinationals, 25% are inclined to believe that this will be driven by SMEs rather than large national enterprises and startups. 35% of the youth believe that privatizing education will be beneficial to the economy, followed by professional services (30%), human health (29%) and agribusiness (28%).  

    (Infographic by Oliver Wyman) 

    One implication found in the survey was that despite the manufacturing sector being relatively small, it is where private firms are most beneficial due to the potential creation of high-skilled jobs and low dependency on imports. When asked about the digital economy, 88% of the respondents said would be a major driving force of the private sector; however, 45% also felt that digital skills are insufficiently reflected in the current curriculum.

    “While the private sector has grown significantly over the last years, historically the public sector has remained dominant across the MENA region. Diversification is the key economic growth driver and the private sector has a key role to play in supporting governments efforts towards this. Perhaps more important than its fiscal effects is that privatization has the potential to offer a number of economic and social benefits,” said Greg Rung, Partner and Head of Social Impact at Oliver Wyman (MEA).

    “With industries across all sectors of the economy evolving through institutional reforms and an increased focus on digital economies by regional governments, the survey shows that the youth are increasingly aware of the value of the private sector. They have clearly outlined the areas that need to be focused on as they enter the workforce in the current economic climate,” he added.

    The survey was taken by 949 respondents between the ages of 16 and 35 and covered four specific areas including the demographics of the respondents, private sector growth drivers and industries, challenges and successes of entrepreneurs and employees and implications of the digital economy on the education system.

    “The youth is currently facing challenges such as an overall shortage of job opportunities, uncompetitive salaries, and opportunities for career development. The collaboration with Oliver Wyman has produced strategic results for the consideration of all stakeholders involved in youth empowerment and allows in turn, for solution-based growth on major issues as the sector advances,” said Akef Aqrabawi, President & CEO of INJAZ Al-Arab/JA MENA.

    The study revealed three broad strategic initiatives required by governments to sustain economic growth, create jobs in the private sector, and to reap the benefits of the future digital economy. These include improving institutional capabilities and regulations, adapting the educational system to have a stronger focus on skills, and attracting domestic and foreign investments in key sectors.

    The post 84% of MENA’s youth: Growth of private sector is the way forward appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Bahrain LNG terminal to start commercial operations in May

    Mon, 2019-03-25 14:01

    DUBAI: Bahrain’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal will start commercial operations in May, with the first LNG shipment to be imported mostly from the UAE’s ADNOC, state media quoted the CEO of Bahrain’s National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) as saying.
    Bahrain LNG is the developer of the receiving and regasification terminal within the Khalifa bin Salman Port facility in Hidd, Bahrain, Bahrain LNG’s website says.
    The terminal also houses an offshore LNG receiving jetty and breakwater, a regasification platform, subsea gas pipelines from the platform to shore, an onshore gas receiving facility, and an onshore nitrogen production facility, according to the website.
    Bahrain’s first LNG floating storage unit is anchored in the United Arab Emirates’ Fujairah port, Refinitiv Eikon data shows.
    The storage unit is expected to arrive at the Hidd terminal in May, Bahrain News Agency quoted NOGA chief executive Jassem al Shirawi as saying on Monday.
    The report did not specify the overall shipment amount, a small part of which Chevron will deliver later.
    The terminal is more than 98 percent ready and the trial period will last only a few weeks, he told the news agency.
    “Bahrain has signed agreements with more than 25 companies and gas-producing countries from around the world to import LNG,” al Shirawi was quoted as saying.
    The LNG import terminal, with a capacity of 800 million cubic feet per day, will allow Bahrain to import the super-chilled fuel as demand grows for natural gas to feed large industrial projects, generate power and produce oil.

    Main category: 

    Posted: by Arab News

  • Etisalat to make 5G dream a reality in the UAE

    What’s the next big disruption that could change the way we use technology? The telecom industry is buzzing with talk of superfast 5G networks permitting for downloads of up to 10 Gigabytes per second, which could enhance the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, machine learning and bring to our daily lives the use of augmented reality, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles and more.

    Etisalat, which was ranked the No. 1 most valuable telecoms brand in the UAE in 2018, is leading the way in bringing 5G to life. As part of its new direction “Together Matters”, the company aims to use the power of technology to connect people and enrich their lives. The company, which completed its first 5G launch on C-band in MENA, has stated that it intends to invest 4 billion AED into digital transformation, mobile and fiber networks during this year. Apart from high connection speeds, the implementation of 5G will also lower latency issues.

    Etisalat envisions 5G as a stepping-stone to unlimited potential, a technology that will enable new use cases, widen possibilities, and enhance value creation. Hence, we were the first to launch the first commercial 5G network in the UAE and the region achieving another technological milestone for the company. The fifth generation of the network will fuel digital transformation, IoT, smart cities and the fourth industrial revolution,” said Eissa Mohamed Al-Suwaidi, Chairman, Etisalat Group, at the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the company’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi.



    Race toward 5G implementation

    Etisalat is working on enhancing its infrastructure with 5G towers and sites, in order to ensure that it provides 5G connectivity to fixed and mobile devices, as well as coverage across the country. Etisalat has already announced partnerships with Huawei and Ericsson to deploy 5G across the UAE. The company’s prime competitor in the country, du has partnered with Virgin Mobile to build 5G infrastructure and deploy it in the UAE. Elsewhere in the GCC, Saudi Telecom has announced a deal with Nokia to bring 5G to Saudi Arabia.

    Earlier this month, du announced that it successfully conducted its first live 5G data call, while deploying 700 5G sites across the UAE. With the Expo 2020 around the corner, Etisalat is also aiming to provide innovative telecom solutions to the millions of participants and visitors, including an Etisalat ‘smart site’ at the event.

    Etisalat is keen on staying ahead when it comes to next-generation technologies, our investment in the future has enabled us to achieve the first 5G commercial launch in MENA with EXPO 2020 as the first business customer. This achievement will redefine connectivity and support the full-fledged adoption of the Internet of things. As an industry leader, we have a role in driving change and expanding the telecommunication ecosystem, we are building a platform for the future, which will materialize the next generation of immersive experiences and power the digital economy,” said Saleh Abdullah Al Abdooli, GCEO, Etisalat Group.



    Driving financial success

    Etisalat’s efforts to lead in the digital space and transform its operating model has helped the Group’s financials soar as well.

    “In 2018, we have delivered a solid financial performance, with consolidated revenues at AED 52.4 billion, and consolidated net profit at AED 8.6 billion, representing 2.4 percent year-on-year growth. This is an outstanding outcome considering the stagnant global economy and some operating companies’ specific challenges pertaining to currency devaluation, geopolitical instability, and elevated competitive and regulatory pressures,” said Saleh Abdullah Al Abdooli, GCEO, Etisalat Group.

    Etisalat Group continued to achieve strong financial performance and maintained its high credit rating reflecting its efforts to provide value to shareholders, which was the drive behind proposing a final dividend of AED 0.4 per share, bringing the total dividends for the year to AED 0.80, in line with our policy in previous years. This represents a dividend yield of 4.7 percent and dividends payout ratio of around 81 percent,” said Eissa Mohamed Al-Suwaidi, Chairman, Etisalat Group.”

    The post Etisalat to make 5G dream a reality in the UAE appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • EU fines Nike $14 million for blocking cross-border sales of football merchandise

    Mon, 2019-03-25 11:12

    BRUSSELS: US sportswear maker Nike was hit with a $14.14 million (€12.5 million) fine on Monday for blocking cross-border sales of football merchandise of some of Europe’s best-known clubs, the latest EU sanction against such restrictions.
    The European Commission said Nike’s illegal practices occurred between 2004 to 2017 and related to licensed merchandise for FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, Inter Milan, AS Roma and the French Football Federation.
    The European Union case focused on Nike’s role as a licensor for making and distributing licensed merchandise featuring a football club’s brands and not its own trademarks.
    The sanction came after a two-year investigation triggered by a sector inquiry into e-commerce in the 28-country bloc. The EU wants to boost online trade and economic growth.
    European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Nike’s actions deprived football fans in other countries of the opportunity to buy their clubs’ merchandise such as mugs, bags, bed sheets, stationery and toys.
    “Nike prevented many of its licensees from selling these branded products in a different country leading to less choice and higher prices for consumers,” she said in a statement.
    Nike’s practices included clauses in contracts prohibiting out-of-territory sales by licensees and threats to end agreements if licensees ignored the clauses. Its fine was cut by 40 percent after it cooperated with the EU enforcer.

    Main category: 

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    Posted: by Arab News

  • Facebook: Up to 600 million users’ passwords were visible to employees

    Facebook must be held together by bits of tape, at this point. Earlier this week, we were wondering if Mark Zuckerberg could help his company navigate these dire straits it has found itself in. Amid bailing employees, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and last year’s hack, it’s a wonder the company’s reputation hasn’t collapsed on itself just yet.

    But it can’t get any worse, now, can it?

    Oh yes, it can.

    ANOTHER user privacy debacle?

    Oh, Facebook… why do you keep putting yourself in these situations?

    According to a report by IT security blog Krebs on Security, hundreds of millions of Facebook users had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by thousands of Facebook employees — in some cases going back to 2012.

    Between 200 and 600 million users’ passwords were stored in this way, and supposedly accessible by 20,000 Facebook employees, the site said, citing an anonymous source within Facebook.

    Soon after this report came, Facebook responded in a blog post: “As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems. This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable. We have fixed these issues and as a precaution we will be notifying everyone whose passwords we have found were stored in this way.”

    “To be clear, these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them,” the blog post continued. “We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users.”

    So it seems that Facebook had knowledge of this since January, but did not share it with the public until Krebs on Security exposed the issue. It’s not clear if this was intended as a cover-up left to deal with an internal misfire, but it would seem so.

    “Despite the recent public struggles Facebook has had with respect to privacy and security, this incident is a little different,” John Shier, senior security advisor at cybersecurity firm Sophos commented on the issue. “Authentication data is something that Facebook treats very seriously and has put in place many mechanisms, both externally and internally, to ensure that user credentials are safeguarded.”

    “While the details of the incident are still emerging, this is likely an accidental programming error that led to the logging of plain text credentials,” he continued. “That said, this should never have happened and Facebook needs to ensure that no user credentials or data were compromised as a result of this error. This is also another reminder for people who are still reusing passwords or using weak passwords to change their Facebook password to something strong and unique and to turn on 2-factor authentication.”

    So what should you do with your Facebook account? 

    Cybersecurity company Sophos wrote to AMEinfo offering advice on what people can do in the current situation. Below is a brief Q & A for users worried about their data, with advice from Paul Ducklin, senior technologist at Sophos.

    Should I change my Facebook password?

    Sophos: Why not? It’s perfectly possible that no passwords at all fell into the hands of any crooks as a result of this. But if any passwords did get into the wrong hands (and you can bet your boots that the crooks are trawling through any old data they might have right now, to see if there is anything they missed before), then you can expect them to be abused. Hashed passwords still need to be cracked before they can be used; plaintext passwords are the real deal without any further hacking or cracking needed.

    So our advice is: change your password now.

    Should I turn on two-factor authentication?

    Sophos: Yes, turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) now. We’ve been urging you to do use two-factor authentication everywhere you can anyway – it means that a password alone isn’t enough for crooks to raid your account.

    If you are reluctant to give Facebook your phone number, use app-based authentication, where your mobile phone generates a one-time code each time you log in.

    Should I close my Facebook account?

    Sophos: We can’t answer that for you. Given that the wrongly-stored passwords weren’t easily accessible in one database, or deliberately stored for routine use during logins, we don’t think this breach alone is enough reason to terminate your account. On the other hand, it’s a pretty poor look for Facebook, and it might be enough, amongst all the other privacy concerns that have dogged Facebook in recent years, to convince you to take that final step. In short, you have to decide for yourself. (If it helps you decide, we’re not closing our accounts.)

    The post Facebook: Up to 600 million users’ passwords were visible to employees appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

  • Founder of India’s beleaguered Jet Airways quits

    Mon, 2019-03-25 10:56

    NEW DELHI: Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal will step down from the board and reduce his stake in the cash-strapped Indian carrier, the company said on Monday as it closes in on a rescue deal led by state-run banks.

    The banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), will convert their debt into equity and take a controlling stake in the airline for a token sum of 1 rupee ($0.0145), Jet said in a statement to the stock exchanges after its board met earlier on Monday.

    The banks will also give the airline a fresh loan of $217.71 million (15 billion rupees) to meet payments and restore normal operations and the lenders will form an interim management committee to manage the airline, Jet said.

    Saddled with debt of more than $1 billion, Jet owes money to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors — several of whom have started terminating leases with the carrier.

    The government has asked state-run banks, led by SBI, to rescue Jet without pushing it into bankruptcy, two people within the Indian government have told Reuters, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election.

    In its statement, Jet said the banks will initiate a bidding process to sell their stake in the airline to a new investor and that the process is expected to be complete by end-June.

    Reports of Goyal’s departure led to a rally in Jet’s shares, which ended the day 12.4 percent higher.

    Main category: 

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    Posted: by Arab News

  • Saudi finance ministry closes book on March sukuk issuance — agency

    Tue, 2019-03-26 00:58

    JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s finance ministry has closed the book for investors seeking to take part in its March 2019 sukuk issuance program, which aims to raise 6.075 billion riyals ($1.62 billion), the Saudi press agency reported on Monday.
    The sukuk are divided into two tranches of 10 and 15 years. The first tranche is for 2.395 billion riyals of 10-year bonds, and the second is for 3.680 billion riyals of 15-year bonds to mature by 2034.

    Main category: 

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    Posted: by Arab News

  • Turkey plans to import more Iranian gas

    Mon, 2019-03-25 10:03

    DUBAI: Turkey plans to increase imports of Iran’s natural gas, a senior Iranian official told the country’s state news agency IRNA on Monday.
    “Turkey has requested to purchase more Iranian natural gas from Iran,” the head of Iran’s National Gas Company (IGC), Hassan Montazer Torbati, told IRNA.
    “Based on previous agreements, Iran is currently increasing gas exports to a number of countries including Turkey, Iraq, Armenia and Azerbaijan,” he said.

    The United States pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers last year and has reimposed sanctions that were lifted under the pact. Washington granted waivers to Turkey and some other countries to import Iranian oil.

    Main category: 

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    Posted: by Arab News

  • UAE’s second “Parent & Child Wellbeing Conference” concludes

    Mediaquest, the media and data analytics conglomerate which hosts major regional events including the “MENA Effie Awards” and “TOP CEO Conference and Awards”, has concluded the UAE’s second “Parent & Child Wellbeing Conference” in partnership with Baby Arabia and Makooky World.

    The event took place on Saturday, March 23, at Kings’ School Al Barsha, Dubai, where all those in attendance discussed important issues and concerns related to the event’s theme of ‘Mind and Body’. Supporting the conference this year was the introduction of a community market with more than 20 local businesses exhibiting and offering activities related to wellbeing and family wellness.

    “The second edition of the Parent and Child Wellbeing Conference was a resounding success. We were very pleased by the turnout and the active interactions between hundreds of parents and the top child experts in the region. The conference addressed children’s wellness, be it “mind” or “body”, from different perspectives. The workshop on ‘Cyber Bullying’, for instance, was very informative and forward-looking. It brought to light important concerns that the current and future generations of children are likely to face. The community market featuring businesses in nutrition, wellness, and edutainment also added excellent resources and brought novel experiences to the conference. Mediaquest is proud to have collaborated with Baby Arabia and Makooky World on this wonderful venture,” said Alexandre Hawari, Co-CEO of Mediaquest.



    The opening session was on Practical Parenting: Tools for “Positive Parenting”, moderated by Joanne Jewell and panelists Tanya Fakhoury, Anisa Alsharif, Dr. Elena Andrioti, and Dr. Rouba Abdennour

    This was followed by a session on Nutrition: “You Are What You Absorb,” moderated by Lulwa Alarmali from Kuwait. The panelists discussed the ‘gut story’ and how this greatly impacts a child’s development. Panelists included nutritionist Bernadette Abraham, Dr. Shefali Verma and Rana Jizi Mirza, founder of Beyond The Kale.

    There were further panel discussions on ‘Building Resilience – Understanding Children and Teen’s Mental Health’ with experts Dr. Thoraiya Kanafani, Dr. Nayla Daou, Joanne Jewell and Natalia Gomez Carlier. The final panel session looked at ‘Hidden Toxins Around Us and Practical Nutrition Tips’ with oral health practitioner Dr. Rafif Tayara, Dina Assaad and Dr. Rania Ayat Hawayek.

    The day concluded with a workshop by Barry Lee Cummings on ‘Cyber Bullying’, which is a regular feature on the Dubai schools calendar and educates parents on how to deal with cyberbullying.

    “I truly believe that ‘knowledge is power’ and it is through events such as ‘The Parent & Child Wellbeing Conference’ that we are given opportunities to educate, and raise the public’s level of health awareness, with hopes of creating a positive effect across the region,” said Bernadette Abraham, Wellness Coach, and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner at “B By Bernadette”.



    The event was supported by key sponsors including Dyson as the Gold Sponsor, Lego as the Silver Sponsor, Babyshop and Lacnor as the Bronze Sponsors, Kidzapp as the Strategic Partner, Boomerang and Cartoon Network as the Playtime Partners, Cloudhoods, Malaak, and Go Organic as the Event Partners and Haya as the Media Partner.

    “I am thrilled to see the success of our second Parent & Child Wellbeing Conference with the inclusion of our Community Market this year. Our vision is clearly to spread and share this knowledge, educate parents, and develop community inclusion across the region. We are now planning further conferences in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Lebanon later this year,” said Mo Fadlallah, Founder & CEO of Baby Arabia.

    The post UAE’s second “Parent & Child Wellbeing Conference” concludes appeared first on AMEInfo.

    Posted: by AME Info

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