twofour54, Etisalat Group and iMENA Group launch Himmah

Abu Dhabi, UAE: 19 November, 2014: A new industry working group aimed at stimulating the development of the region’s online industry, Himmah, was officially launched this month as a joint partnership between iMENA Group, the largest group of online services dedicated to the consumer market in the MENA region; Etisalat Group , the leading telecom company in the Middle East, Africa and Asia; and twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s media and entertainment hub dedicated to developing the region’s media industry and future talent.

Himmah aims to help the region’s online industry capitalise on the high growth potential yet under-served market of MENA, by leveraging the group’s collective know-how, relationships and resources to develop industry best practice, encourage government and private sector action, and support opportunities for entrepreneurs and start-ups.

This comes as proactive step to boost online service offerings and consumer presence in the MENA region, which is considered to be lagging significantly in comparison to its neighbouring emerging markets. The potential for the online industry is immense, with more than 150 million internet users in the MENA region[1].

H.E. Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of twofour54 said: “twofour54 is dedicated to the development of a sustainable media industry and we are proud to be a founding member of Himmah, which aims to create growth opportunities for entrepreneurs and start-ups in the digital space.

“twofour54 offers a range of initiatives and services aimed at addressing many of the challenges that digital companies face, such as finding the right talent, funding and access to business support services, but we are always looking for new ways to support the future of the industry.

She added: “Himmah will focus specifically on developing the digital opportunities in the region for companies and entrepreneurs and we are pleased to offer our expertise to this new regional platform. Together with our partners, we look forward to helping Himmah grow in prominence and influence around the region”.

According to a recent study on emerging markets and propriety, MENA has entered a hyper growth era of consumer for online businesses. This means, MENA will likely produce at least $10 billion of publicly listed digital companies if it continues growing at this rate[2].

Himmah will also develop thought-leadership on how to address some of the challenges to market penetration of an online economy culture in MENA, such as the scarcity of professional industry-relevant talent;  fragmentation and complexity of doing business in MENA’s key markets; lack of enabling services; insufficient funding options; deficiencies in regulatory and commercial/legal frameworks for online businesses ; and limited availability of local and regional online market information. Helping to identify strategies to aIign addressing such issues is where Himmah will be a game changer.

Khalifa Al Shamsi, Chief Digital Services Officer, Etisalat Group: “We are excited to be one of the founding members of such a strategically vital initiative for the region. Himmah will no doubt play a major role in leveraging our collective know-how to digitize industry in a revolutionary way. This will have a profound effect on the Middle East and will no doubt influence decision-making across all markets and government sectors. Himmah has the potential to inspire endless innovation in the UAE’s – and Middle East’s – next generation of entrepreneurs.”

“Himmah is not only a communal platform for fresh talent and investors to engage,” Al Shamsi continued, “but will also serve the important function of bridging existing digital industry to decision makers in the UAE and across the region. Etisalat has major Digital Platforms and distribution channels to contribute to the success of this initiative and significant presence in many of these key markets, and looks forward to contributing to bringing the future to us today.”

Commenting on the launch, Khaldoon Tabaza, from iMENA said: “The potential to maximize online service offerings in the MENA region is immense – and it is with great excitement we, along with our partners, introduce Himmah and its solid initiatives to strengthen this online presence.

The founding members of Himmah will invite other entities to join as charter members, where they can provide additional expertise or add value to the group’s mission to establish the region’s most prominent digital industry working group.

“Keeping in line with iMENA’s mission, Himmah will influence and impact strategic decision makers in Abu Dhabi, and at a later stage, target the wider region to enable the development of a dominant, online culture,” he added.

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[1] http://www.cybersource.com/en-MEA/about/news_and_events/view.php?page_id=2923

[2] http://www.cybersource.com/en-MEA/about/news_and_events/view.php?page_id=2923