Aramco tops Arab companies on Brand Finance Global 500 list

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Updated 26 January 2022

Aramco tops Arab companies on Brand Finance Global 500 list

LONDON: Saudi Aramco has maintained its position as the Middle East’s most valuable brand, with the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 report valuing the Kingdom’s oil giant at $43.6 billion.

Following a difficult period for the oil and gas sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aramco placed 31st in the list and is the only Arab company in the top 100 of the world’s 500 most valuable brands in 2022.

It recently announced plans to increase its production capacity from 12 million barrels per day to 13 million bpd by 2027.

“Despite there only being seven brands from the Middle East in the Brand Finance Global 500 ranking, their strong performances prove once again that the region punches well above its weight on the global stage,” Andrew Campbell, managing director of Brand Finance Middle East, told Arab News. “The future looks bright, with all of the brands from the region – including Aramco, ADNOC, Etisalat, and stc – seeing positive brand value growth this year.”

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company was the second most valuable brand in the region and held on to the top spot in the UAE, asserting the dominance of the oil sector.

ADNOC managed to score a 19 percent brand value growth to $12.8 billion, the fastest among the top 10 oil and gas brands globally, which sees it hold on to its position as the second most valuable brand in the region.

Its CEO Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber was crowned the highest-ranked CEO outside of the US and China. He is also the top-scoring leader in the oil and gas sector.

Other Middle Eastern brands in the top 500 include Saudi telecom provider stc (184th and valued at $10.5 billion), the UAE’s Etisalat (192nd and valued at $10.1 billion), Qatar National Bank (305th and valued at $7.05 billion), and Dubai’s Emirates airline (461st and valued at $4.9 billion).

Expo 2020 Dubai offered Etisalat a chance to demonstrate itself as a strategic enabler of the UAE's digital transformation, meaning it was crowned with the Middle East and Africa’s strongest brand for the second consecutive year.

“Etisalat’s brand focuses on togetherness and plays its part by providing a first-class telecoms infrastructure across its footprint. Exceptional rollout of 5G technology has also meant that the Etisalat Group’s portfolio of brands is the most valuable amongst telecoms organisations in the Middle East,” said David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance.

Saudi Arabia’s stc continued to see good growth this year, with its brand value increasing by 16 percent to $10.6 billion.

Globally, Apple continues to hold the world’s most valuable brand title for the second year in a row, overtaking Amazon and Google. TikTok, meanwhile, was crowned the fastest-growing brand in the world with a growth of 215 percent.

Media brands accounted for the top three fastest-growing brands in the ranking, with Snapchat and South Korea’s Kakao following closely behind TikTok.


A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

Updated 30 June 2022

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission has urged the chief executives of Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc’s Google to kick Chinese-owned TikTok out of its app stores.
Brendan Carr, the FCC commissioner, said in a letter to the CEOs, dated June 24 and sent on FCC letterhead, that video-sharing app TikTok has collected vast troves of sensitive data about US users that could be accessed by ByteDance staff in Beijing. ByteDance is TikTok’s Chinese parent.
Carr tweeted details of the letter on Tuesday.
“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” Carr said on Twitter. “It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”
Carr asked the companies to either remove TikTok from their app stores by July 8 or explain to him why they did not plan to do so.
Carr’s request is unusual given that the FCC does not have clear jurisdiction over the content of app stores. The FCC regulates the national security space usually through its authority to grant certain communications licenses to companies.

A TikTok spokeswoman said the company’s engineers in locations outside of the United States, including China, can be granted access to US user data “on an as-needed basis” and under “strict controls.”
Google declined comment on Carr’s letter, while Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
TikTok has been under US regulatory scrutiny over its collection of US personal data. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, ordered ByteDance in 2020 to divest TikTok because of fears that US user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.
To address these concerns, TikTok said earlier this month that it migrated the information of its US users to servers at Oracle Corp.
A spokesperson for the US Department of the Treasury, which chairs CFIUS, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“What we’re seeing here from Commissioner Carr is a suggestion that at least some parts of the US government don’t think that this is enough,” Richard Sofield, a national security partner at law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP, said about TikTok’s partnership with Oracle. 

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US newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week

Updated 30 June 2022

US newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week

NEW YORK: Despite a growing recognition of the problem, the United States continues to see newspapers die at the rate of two per week, according to a report issued Wednesday on the state of local news.
Areas of the country that find themselves without a reliable source of local news tend to be poorer, older and less educated than those covered well, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications said.
The country had 6,377 newspapers at the end of May, down from 8,891 in 2005, the report said. While the pandemic didn’t quite cause the reckoning that some in the industry feared, 360 newspapers have shut down since the end of 2019, all but 24 of them weeklies serving small communities.
An estimated 75,000 journalists worked in newspapers in 2006, and now that’s down to 31,000, Northwestern said. Annual newspaper revenue slipped from $50 billion to $21 billion in the same period.
Even though philanthropists and politicians have been paying more attention to the issue, the factors that drove the collapse of the industry’s advertising model haven’t changed. Encouraging growth in the digital-only news sector in recent years hasn’t been enough to compensate for the overall trends, said Penelope Muse Abernathy, visiting professor at Medill and the report’s principal author.
Many of the digital-only sites are focused on single issues and are clustered in or close to big cities near the philanthropic money that provides much of their funding, the report said.
News “deserts” are growing: The report estimated that some 70 million Americans live in a county with either no local news organization or only one.
“What’s really at stake in that is our own democracy, as well as our social and societal cohesion,” Abernathy said.
True “daily” newspapers that are printed and distributed seven days a week are also dwindling; The report said 40 of the largest 100 newspapers in the country publish only- digital versions at least once a week. Inflation is likely to hasten a switch away from printed editions, said Tim Franklin, director of the Medill Local News Initiative.
Much of the industry churn is driven by the growth in newspaper chains, including new regional chains that have bought hundreds of newspapers in small or mid-sized markets, the report said.
Less than a third of the country’s 5,147 weekly newspapers and a dozen of 150 city and regional daily papers are now locally-owned and operated, Medill said.
Abernathy’s report pointed to a handful of “local heroes” to counter the pessimism that the raw numbers provide. One is Sharon Burton, publisher and editor of the Adair County Community Voice in Kentucky, where she pushes her staff toward aggressive journalism while also successfully lobbying to expand postal subsidies for rural newspapers.


The Marketing Society launches gender equality program

Updated 29 June 2022

The Marketing Society launches gender equality program

  • Program aims to have equal female representation on industry panels and in mid to high-level roles

DUBAI: Industry body The Marketing Society announced its first gender equality program in the region, titled “Gender Equality Acceleration,” at an event held at the TikTok lounge in Dubai.

The event was attended by over 75 senior marketers and their teams.

The Gender Equality Acceleration Program aims to break barriers by increasing gender equality at mid and high levels of management in the marketing and communications industry across the UAE and the wider Gulf region.

“This initiative not only better educates both genders on how to find their voice to ensure there are equal opportunities at senior levels in all organizations, but, more importantly, provides an essential support network to build the self-belief of many women, giving them the strength to truly believe they deserve the recognition of a leadership role,” said Abby Lyons, co-founder and managing partner of House of Comms.

A key focus of this project is to make an actual impact — not just talk about gender equality without any real change. In order to achieve this, The Marketing Society will hold training, events, mentoring, policy changes, and other decisive actions to bring about real change.

For example, the body will work closely with different conference producers and event organizers to support them in having equal representation on panels by creating an accessible speaker directory that spotlights female experts in the industry. The goal is to have half of all speakers be women on panels across the marketing and communications industry by 2023.

The Marketing Society will also organize and host identified training and masterclasses with over 50 women by December 2022, and share best practices to inspire and empower businesses of all sizes to launch and follow the initiative.

Mohammed Ismaeel Hameedaldin, partner at Toughlove Advisors and chair of The Marketing Society Dubai, said: “Marketers are changemakers within businesses who can make an impact and make a difference.”

He added: “The time for talk is over, it’s about action and we look forward to supporting this through our planned activities and engaging the whole industry to speed up change.”

The Marketing Society is a global community that strives for a more diverse and inclusive leadership to shape, support, and steer the region’s top marketers. It is looking for more partners to join this initiative and work alongside the program’s founding partner, TikTok.

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Russia moves forward on proposed law on banning foreign media

Updated 29 June 2022

Russia moves forward on proposed law on banning foreign media

  • The proposal must still pass a third reading in the Duma and secure the upper house's approval
  • The draft law also calls for allowing Russia's prosecutor general to cancel the registration of media outlets

MOSCOW: The lower house of Russia’s parliament on Wednesday approved the critical second reading of a proposed law that would allow the banning of foreign news media in response to other countries taking actions against Russian news outlets.
The proposal must still pass a third reading in the Duma and secure the upper house’s approval before going to President Vladimir Putin to be signed into law. But the Duma’s approval on second reading, when a proposal still can undergo substantial changes, almost always prefigures a law’s enactment.
Russia has repeatedly complained in recent months that Western countries were improperly restricting Russian media by banning their operation or denying visas to their journalists. In early June, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called in representatives of American media, including The Associated Press, to warn that they could be denied renewal of their visas and accreditation.
The draft law also calls for allowing Russia’s prosecutor general to cancel the registration of media outlets for disseminating “illegal, dangerous, unreliable publicly significant information or information expressing clear disrespect for society, the state, the Constitution of the Russian Federation, as well as aimed at discrediting the Russian armed forces,” state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.
Many foreign news organizations suspended or curtailed their operations in Russia following the passage in March of a law calling for up to 15 years in prison for reports seen as discrediting the Russian military.
The foreign ministry in May ordered the closure of the Moscow bureau pf the state-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in response to Canada’s ban on RT, a Russian state-controlled broadcaster.
In February, as Russia built up troops along Ukraine’s border, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle was ordered to close in Moscow after Germany banned the broadcast of RT’s German-language programs.
Before the vote on the second reading, Vladimir Solovev, the head of the Russian Journalists’ Union, told the committee preparing the draft that the measure was justified by an “information war unprecedented in history” against Russia.
Russia in recent years has persistently clamped down on independent journalism. Following the start of the Ukraine conflict, many significant independent news media shut down or suspended operations. Those included the Ekho Moskvy radio station and the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor, Dmitry Muratov, was last year’s co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.


Hong Kong bars some journalists from handover anniversary

Updated 29 June 2022

Hong Kong bars some journalists from handover anniversary

  • The journalists represent at least seven media outlets, including international news agencies Reuters and Agence France-Presse and several others
  • At least three other journalists from local news outlets were informed Wednesday that their applications to cover the July 1 events were rejected

HONG KONG: Hong Kong authorities, citing security reasons, have barred more than 13 journalists from covering events this week marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association and media reports.
The journalists represent at least seven media outlets, including international news agencies Reuters and Agence France-Presse and several others from Hong Kong, the association said in a statement posted online late Tuesday.
“The authorities have made ad hoc and narrow interview arrangements at this important juncture and have put forth vague grounds for refusal, seriously undermining the freedom of the press in Hong Kong,” the statement said. It said at least 10 journalists have been barred.
The Hong Kong Economic Journal said at least three other journalists from local news outlets were informed Wednesday that their applications to cover the July 1 events were rejected.
Hong Kong police have confirmed that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the city for the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997. Xi’s visit will be his first trip outside of mainland China since the coronavirus pandemic took hold about 2 1/2 years ago. Police in Hong Kong, a special semi-autonomous region of China, have announced a raft of security measures, including road closures and a no-fly zone.
Strict requirements have been set for those attending the events. Journalists must have daily COVID-19 nucleic acid tests starting last Sunday and stay in a quarantine hotel from Wednesday.
Despite receiving initial approvals that included instructions for checking in to the quarantine hotel, some journalists received rejection notices on Wednesday while on their way to the hotel, while others were informed that they were barred from the events upon arrival, the Hong Kong Economic Journal said.
Authorities had invited media outlets to submit up to 20 applications to cover the events — which include a flag-raising ceremony and the inauguration of the new Hong Kong government — but later specified that only one journalist from each outlet could be sent to cover each of the two events.
Reuters said in a news report it submitted the names of two journalists to cover the events, and that both were rejected.
A Reuters spokesperson said the company was seeking further information on the matter.
The affected Hong Kong media outlets include the English-language South China Morning Post, the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao and online news outlet HK01, the journalists association said. The South China Morning Post said in a news report that one of its photographers had been rejected, with no reason given.
Ming Pao and HK01 did not immediately comment. Agence France-Presse declined to comment and a South China Morning Post spokesperson declined to comment beyond their news report.
The affected media organizations were invited to send other journalists to cover the events, but the replacements must also meet the quarantine and testing requirements, according to the journalists association.
The Information Services Department, which sent out the initial invitations to media outlets to register to cover the events, declined to provide information on how many journalists were given accreditation and would not comment on a South China Morning Post report that one of the department’s own photographers had been barred from the events.
“The government is striking a balance as far as possible between the need of media work and security requirements,” the department said in a statement. “We will not comment on the accreditation outcome of individual organizations and persons.”