Future 100 trends and change to watch in mena 2017 - Executive Summary
A SAMPLE OF
THE FUTURE 100
MENA TRENDS AND CHANGE TO WATCH IN 2017
A REPORT BY
INNOVATION GROUP MENA
2INTRODUCTION THE FUTURE 100
Are you seeing the winds of change as much as we are? As we
look ahead to 2017, markets are confident despite assumptions
being shaken and narratives overturned. Amidst the massive
shifts that are sure to follow, there’s never been a more important
time for brands to keep tabs on forecasts and emerging consumer
The technology industry still continues to exercise enormous cultural and
economic power, more so, now that the physical and digital words have ofﬁcially
collided, drawing us deeper into a Matrix-like realm. In “Civic Data” (#18), we look
at how cities are becoming R&D labs, collecting and sharing open-source data in
real time. Brands are vying for hearts and minds, overlaying virtual treasures into
our physical world in “Gamiﬁed Tourism” (#28). Multireality experiences that
blend online and real world experiences are emerging as the next canvas for
futuristic storytelling, in “New Immersive Landscapes” (#34). Even in Beauty,
connected technologies are making it easier for brands to adapt to individual
needs via “Beauty Biometrics” (#60).
Markets that have long been overlooked or misunderstood are about to get their
due. Brands are ﬁnally addressing the large and growing disabled population in
“Disability: Diversity’s New Frontier” (#31), and savvy Muslims are being targeted
as the polycultural, inﬂuential and progressive group they are in “Futuristic
Faithfuls” (#12). Marketers lavish attention on millennials and boomers, but what
about generation X? “Xers: The Forgotten Generation” (#33). In “Just as you are”,
brands are ﬁnally spotlighting images of women who look like their customers
(#57). While “Senior Coolness” sees brands embracing seniors in the light of
limitless possibilities, rather than declining abilities (#7).
Last year saw society embracing topics that were previously taboo, and this year
will bring entirely new industries centered around aspects of life that have been
ﬁrmly reclaimed by consumers. “Age of the Single Lady” (#2) examines how the
trend towards delayed marriage and parenthood is shaping a tribe of happily
unmarried women. Shamanism and alternative healing are spilling into the
mainstream, as people turn to anything that makes life easier to deal with, in
“New Age Healing” (#76). In beauty, men are spearheading a shift, becoming “The
New Beauty Consumer” (#58), while consumers are choosing to selectively edit
bits of DNA towards miracle cures in “Gene Editing” (#71).
3INTRODUCTION THE FUTURE 100
Harried consumers are seeking new forms of escapism, fantasy and insight as
they navigate the stress and mundanity of everyday life in “Unreality” (#40).
“Mystic Beauty” (#55) looks at young people adopting a knowing perspective on
occult aesthetics, while “Fragrant Potions” asks why millennials are opting for
scents with ‘meaning’ (#56). “Outdoor Explorers” (#81) ﬁnds unprecedented
numbers of urbanites turning to the great outdoors for respite, while elsewhere,
developers are creating bubbles of “Artiﬁcial Nature” (#94). Innovators are even
turning their attention to the most universal form of escape in “Engineering the
Instagram, and now live-streaming culture, permeates all sectors. “Elemental
Travel” (#23) looks at raw, exposed yet visually stunning places to stay the night.
In “Nail Art” (#59), beauty trends move away from the practical toward the
socially sharable, as salons retool around experience culture. “Glamping” (#98) –
Glamorous camping – is rising as the antithesis of the gilded overdone classic
If there’s anything to be learned from this year, it’s that change comes rapidly,
and often from unexpected places. While trends like “Inter-faith Friendships” (#9)
and “Digital Palestine: Innovation Under Occupation” (#15) reﬂect a world
inevitably shaped by political storms, trends such as “Everyone is a Chef” (#45)
or “Indie Challengers” (#3) point to a future that’s propelled by immense
creativity and the power of consumers. As more sectors embrace the unknown,
it’s these forces that will drive industries forward.
The New Spiritualist
Source: (1) ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller: Arab Youth Survey, 2016
Photo Credit: Thomas Barwick, Getty Images via Hufﬁngton Post
THE FUTURE 100CULTURE 10
As the grip of mainstream religion slackens, fringe faiths are
starting to shape up in the region. Once the passion of the
spiritual set, meditation, shamanism and alternative healing are
spilling into the mainstream, as people look for anything that is
functional and practical, that makes life easier to deal with.
52% of Arab youth agree to that religion plays too big of a role in society–a shift
in attitude that is increasingly manifesting on the ground1
. In a move towards a
more secular state, Jordan no longer considers the ‘statement of religion’ as a
requirement on its national ID documents, as too has the University of Cairo for
all student and faculty papers. Content of interest is also being reshufﬂed.
According to Arab Weekly, Arab readers are losing interest in political literature
– particularly those trying to make sense of the IS phenomenon – and shifting to
more spiritual themes.
Beyond this shifting religious landscape, the need to slow down, regain focus and
reduce stress, is giving way to the desire to embrace a more mindful and
measured pace of life, one that ﬁnds more meaning and consciousness in every
moment. From Egypt’s Rou7 Festival to the Beirut Yoga Festival, the Arab world
is becoming a utopia for free-spirited yogis.
While fewer people are looking to religion for guidance and serenity in the
traditional sense, this doesn’t mean they’ve stopped believing altogether. Data
from our Females Tribes for the MENA report reveals that 20% of Arab women
consider themselves “spiritual” and 10% already belong to or practice a
“non-traditional” religion. While some are resorting to nowadays common
practices like meditation and healing to ﬁnd “meaning” in life, others are opening
up to Eastern methods, shamanistic rituals or even mixing and matching religious
and spiritual codes at will, to construct their own idea of faith.
There’s also a more curious, self-aware and spiritually awakened cohort seeking
even higher levels of enlightenment, dabbling in third-wave new-age practices,
through crystals, astrology, sound baths, tarot and tapping. In Beirut, the House
of Healing offers everything from Theta Healing, a spiritual philosophy with the
aim of getting “closer to the Creator”, to Tarot, Palm and Numerology readings.
Why it’s interesting: Spirituality associates naturally with wellness, health and
even beauty. Meaning that marketers across categories should reassess their
offerings and messaging through this lens, to provide spiritually rewarding
experiences with a positive psychological and even physical impact.
Photo Credit: University of Shefﬁeld
A vibrant startup hub is shaping up in Palestine. In a natural
display of resilience, optimistic vanguards are innovating in the
face of adversity, overcoming metaphorical barriers; power
cuts, weak internet infrastructure and political restrictions, to
name a few and setting up businesses against all odds.
Due to the blockade in place since 2007, Gaza’s exports, according to World
Bank’s Country Director for West Bank and Gaza, Steen Lau Jorgensen,
‘virtually disappeared’ and the manufacturing sector has shrunk by as much as
60%. Young Palestinians are increasingly stepping in where Government is
unable to tread and charting the path for progress in areas that lack it the
most. Some examples include Mashvisor, a real estate platform that optimizes
the rental performance of investment properties. Fadﬁd, a virtual platform for
connecting with licensed psychologists across the Arab world and Wirez, a
marketplace that connects talented video storytellers with media
broadcasters and publishers.
“I think we’re witnessing the start of something huge in Palestine: becoming
self-sufﬁcient on our own accord without relying on occupied powers or
unprincipled leaders,” says Christina Ganim, a Ramallah-based entrepreneur. “I
think starting a business here is in itself a political act.”
There are also startups investing in hardware; Insolito, a multi-purpose ﬁtness
tracker that also makes emergency calls using a sneaker insole and BoldKnot, a
stylish top-up battery pack, described as “the world’s fastest iPhone charger…
in a keychain”.
Kids working at Gaza Sky Geeks
Digital Palestine: Innovation under Occupation
THE FUTURE 100 24TECH+INNOVATION
In addition to exceptional players that have already cemented their place in the
tech space like travel startup, Yamsafer, hailed by TechCrunch as the Booking.com
of the Middle East, Webteb, a digital health portal, and Batuta, a travel research
site. “The people we hire are hungrier than people you would have hired in Dubai,
Jordan or elsewhere,” said Faris Zaher, Co-Founder & CEO at Yamsafer, which
recently closed a $3.5m funding round in one of the biggest venture capital deals
the region has seen.
Catalyzing the startup boom is the abundance of accelerators, incubators and VC
funds, like the Fast Forward accelerator in Ramallah and Gaza Sky Geeks in Gaza.
Ibtikar Fund, the country’s biggest startup investment fund, ofﬁcially launched this
year in Ramallah, a key development in the nation’s growing startup ecosystem
and its stakeholders. “There is a vacuum in the regional entrepreneurship
ecosystem preventing many startups from bridging the early stages of their
lifecycle where they are cash negative. Ibtikar is designed to solve this problem in
Palestine.” said Ibtikar COO Ambar Amleh. Hackathons like the AngelHack Gaza
competition, startup events like Startup Weekend Gaza for kidpreneurs and
coworking spaces such as the Work Factory are no longer a rare occurrence.
For as long as they are unable to self-govern, entrepreneurship provides a sense
of economic independence, “a way of distancing themselves from Israeli inﬂuence
as well as dependency on foreign aid.” as expressed by Quartz.
Why it’s interesting: With 3G set to launch this year, innovation is ripe for the
taking, “Palestinians haven’t been exposed to 3G yet, so they don’t understand the
potential,” said Ambar Amleh, a venture capitalist at the Ibtikar fund, “Once they
have 3G to play with, you’ll see a lot more apps being developed here,” she said.
“Think about it: how could someone have imagined Google if they didn’t know what
the internet was?”. In a nutshell, the ﬂood of entrepreneurship is just beginning.
Virtual therapy platform, Fadfid
Eco-lodge Adrere Amellal, in Siwa, Egypt
The tourism industry is waking up to the growing spending power of
the Muslim traveler well beyond the Arab world, particularly in Asia
and Europe, which account for 87% of the entire market1
Muslim business travel is expected to be a $22 billion market by 2020, while Muslim
travel overall will be worth $220 billion, according to an October 2016 report by
Mastercard and CrescentRating. More than half of Muslim business travelers spent
in excess of $2,000 per trip, according to the report.
Hospitality brands are ﬁrst to take the lead, even repackaging ‘halal’ for younger
audiences. Abu-Dhabi based Jannah Hotels and Resorts, a luxury halal hotel
operator, has plans to introduce BedoInn, a Millennial-friendly budget brand,
promising modern facilities, the availability of lifestyle-themed rooms for ﬁtness
enthusiasts and gamers and a commitment to ethical and sustainable practices -
one of the fundamental pillars of ‘halal’.
Asian destinations too, are reaching out to Muslim travelers. Thailand’s ﬁrst halal
hotel, the four-star Al Meroz, opened recently to cater to Thailand’s growing
numbers of Middle Eastern visitors, including UAE citizens who come for medical
treatments. In Japan, Muslim-friendly tour operators report rising business, and the
Syariah Hotel Fujisan opened in July 2016 to host Muslim tourists visiting the area
near Mount Fuji.
With this momentum, new services are emerging to accommodate the needs of
this growing demographic, including Shariah-compliant airlines, such as UK’s Firnas
Al Meroz Hotel
Source: (1) Mastercard and CrescentRating, Muslim Business Traveler Insights 2016, 2016
THE FUTURE 100 45TRAVEL+HOSPITALITY
Airways; Muslim-friendly booking platforms such as Malaysia’s Tripfez; Halal P2P
accommodation such as UK’s Book Halal Homes and many more. Thailand recently
launched an app to help Muslim travelers ﬁnd halal-friendly restaurants, and Taiwan’s
capital, Taipei, has provided prayer rooms at the city’s main train station. Seven new
halal restaurants opened in the city during 2016, city tourism commissioner Yu-Yen
Chien told Malay Mail Online.
Closer to home, Mecca is gearing up to become a destination for MICE travel in Saudi
Arabia, drawing a rising number of local companies and government bodies looking to
combine their business trips with Umrah pilgrimage, as revealed by Saudi Gazette.
Why it’s interesting: Tourism is the most recent sector to align itself with the needs
of Muslim consumers, following recent interest in Muslim-friendly fashion and
cosmetics. Hospitality brands should make sure their offerings suit this group, or risk
losing out on the segment.
Sarah’s Bag Psychedelia Collection
After an unending obsession with ultra-realism driven by
user-generated content, brands, inﬂuencers and retailers are
reconnecting with the imagination. “Brands that put artistry and
vision at the forefront again will be the ones that capture the most
attention,” says Pam Grossman, director of visual trends at Getty
Surreal imagery that references otherworldly, supernatural or psychedelic
scenarios are chiming with a desire for psychological escapism. To launch the new
‘LSD-inspired’ collection of his Kojak brand, Egyptian fashion designer Mohanad
Kojak, teamed up with art director Ikon Chiba to introduce ‘Trippin’, a fashion ﬁlm
that chronicles the blurry stages of a delirious drug trip. "We thought this was some
heavy stuff simple folk wouldn’t get, but they were totally getting it” says Chiba,
commenting on the ﬁnal stage of the ﬁlm, which according to him, is all about
'Morphing into Euphoria'. "It's all about having a good time at the end. It's trippy."
Lebanon’s Sarah’s Bag’s latest collection, ‘Psychedelia’, charts a journey of magic
and mindfulness, taking inspiration from the vividly colorful and glamorous creative
culture of the soul-searching days of the rebellious 60s era. Trippy-chic styles
include the ‘Mandala’ clutch with the kaleidoscopic pattern recreated in pearl and
wood inlay, the ‘Aura’ bag made of expanding layers of plexi in vibrant colors and
the ‘Awareness’ piece featuring the Third Eye embroidered over a printed silk-blend
Top: Mohanad Kojak’s ‘LSD inspired’ Trippin campaign
Bottom: Level Shoe District’s cosmos-inspired display
THE FUTURE 100 61BRANDS + MARKETING
Top and Bottom: Sarah’s Bag Psychedelia collection
THE FUTURE 100 62BRANDS + MARKETING
Fantasy, fairytale and ﬁctitious references are increasingly being used to create
more engaging retail experiences. Dolce & Gabbana’s AW’16 launch event in Beirut,
embraced famous fairytale themes from Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and
Snow White. A life-sized red apple tree, clocks ready to strike midnight and a large
fairytale book recounting the love story of D&G’s princess and prince were the
backdrop for tinsel-like dresses and whimsical accessories ﬁt for a modern-day
The cosmos, too, is becoming a source of inspiration for marketers, with outer
space, the planets and galaxies lending their astral allure. The mystical appeal of
the stars and space transformed the Women’s Designer area at Dubai’s Level Shoe
District into a cosmic world with twilight skies, glowing constellations and shooting
stars, in addition to gracing the Men’s Designer area with inspiration from natural
crystals and rocks.
The opportunity to use the vocabulary of the spiritual and astrological worlds has
not been missed, by brands keen to offer enlightenment and escapism. “In this day
and age of uncertainty and shallow connectivity, people are craving something
deeper, something that centers them,” says Grossman.
Why it’s interesting: The digital world has created a precociously wise and
cynical generation to whom “unknowing” is becoming increasingly attractive. For
millennials struggling to make sense of their place in the world, there is a world
that doesn’t make sense—but it doesn’t matter because it’s not real. Unreality is
the natural antidote to the increasingly clichéd themes of honesty and
authenticity, and appeals to those who want something beyond the evident and
Photo Credit: Sprinkle of Green
THE FUTURE 100 70
Nestle's Tummy Fish app
The Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Program, vows to build good
nutritional habits among school-age children around the world,
shaping them into the healthy adults of tomorrow. With child
obesity rates at an all-time high, brands are getting creative to
promote better eating choices among young consumers early on,
arming them with healthy habits to last a lifetime.
Among children, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the Middle East rose
to 25% in 20131
, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 30% of
obese preschoolers and 40% of obese school children become obese adults,
making ‘food-ed.’ all the more crucial.
Gamiﬁcation is increasingly being leveraged to drive healthy food habits among
youngsters. Nestlé’s ’United for Healthier Kids’ movement created ‘Tummyﬁsh’,
a storybook and app to encourage kids to drink more water. By tracking their
child’s liquid intake, parents steer ‘Tummyﬁsh’s’ emotions and tummy-habitat,
rewarding good habits by unlocking toys and mini-games. Similarly, The Magic
Meal app by Syrian clinical nutritionist, Dr. Yara Radwan, teaches kids about
healthy eating through the adventures of three characters, who overcome
challenges thanks to super powers gleaned from eating healthy lunches.
Grow Them Young
FOOD + DRINK
THE FUTURE 100 71
FOOD + DRINK
Beyond the screen, brands are involving children in hands-on experiences to
educate them about the people and processes behind their food. Pantry Café, a
Dubai-based gourmet café, hands out ‘homegrown kits', encouraging children to
cultivate their own ‘mini garden’, and observe, experiment and learn about the
production of the food they consume. “As a mother of two, I want my children
to take an interest in the food that they’re eating. This campaign was born from
the desire to promote the use of real ingredients to create real food for
children.” says Yana Kalwani, vice-chairperson, Retail & Beyond, the company
behind the café.
Why it’s interesting: The ‘unspoiled’ nature of a child’s palate means that they
have no inbuilt knowledge of what is good or bad, leaving the responsibility to
parents, schools but also commercial entities to instill healthy habits in the
young. “A child is born with a clean palate. They are almost open to everything.
However, as they grow, there are eating habits which they learn or reject.” said
chef Karan Purohit, in a panel at Caterer Middle East’s Food & Business
Conference. As parents continue to obsess over what goes into their children’s
mouths, expect more brands to champion initiatives that foster positive
behaviors among the consumers of tomorrow.
Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington, 2013
THE FUTURE 100 87
Abe & Jar's beard oil
Source: (1) Euromonitor International, 2015
With a ‘Menaissance’ knocking at our doors, beauty is shedding its
default femininity and turning its attention to the legions of Arab
men interested in personal pampering.
Poised to hit a value of $829m in 2019, the Middle East’s men’s grooming market is
brimming with male-exclusive beauty spaces, upscale vintage-style barber shops
and all-men spa retreats1
. Harvey Nichols Dubai recently added 9,000 sq. meters
to its menswear department, to include a grooming lounge for men while the Four
Seasons Riyadh opened doors to the Kingdom's ﬁrst all-men’s spa, offering body
wraps, specialty facials and more. Homegrown beauty brands targeting men are
sprouting up. Abe & Jar, based in Dubai, is a one stop shop for high quality male
grooming care essentials, with offerings like an ‘Ocean Calm Beard Oil’ and a
‘Marine Oud Mustache Wax’.
“The contemporary man is no longer averse to pampering himself with choice
beauty products and haircare aids. Beauty treatments, skin conditioning and
manicures are par for the course as part of the grooming routine, which earlier
used to comprise an occasional visit to the barber for a trim and a shave.” said
Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, organizers of Beautyworld
Middle East, the largest international trade fair for beauty in the MENA.
Men: The New Beauty Consumer
This male awakening is breathing new light into the long-standing debate around
beauty and feminism and ushering in a new wave of gender-neutral beauty
products that destigmatize beauty for men. Take unisex skincare brand Beau and
Eve, which was created with the ‘bon vivant’ in mind. The brand, which combines
the French word ‘Beau’ used to describe masculine beauty, with the ultimate
symbol of femininity ‘Eve’, implies a more equalitarian stance on beauty for the
THE FUTURE 100 88
Beau & Eve, Unisex skin care range
Beyond the uptake of ‘dude grooming’, the realization that beauty and well-being
are intertwined is also catching on amongst male consumers. According to
Khaleej Times, the ‘Mantox’ is becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon in
the UAE, as unprecedented numbers of men opt for detox cleanses to boost their
overall health. As for ﬁtness, The National reports that Pilates, spinning, yoga and
even pole ﬁtness classes in Dubai are witnessing an increased male turnout, as
more men come to recognize the tangible beneﬁts of these sports.
On the other end of the beauty spectrum, ‘Brotox’, or botox for men, is becoming
increasingly popular. “Of the top non-invasive cosmetic procedures, Botox takes
the prize among men,” states Dr. Alexandre Dionyssopoulos, a plastic and
reconstructive surgeon at Dubai Cosmetic Surgery, adding that 20-25% of his
Botox clients are men. Dr. Ghanima Al-Omar, a consultant in skin diseases and
laser cosmetics at Kuwait’s Skin Clinic, revealed that 35% of her clients are males
who undergo injectable ﬁllers, Botox, and skin whitening.
Why it’s interesting: As we move away from a hetero-normative view of the
world, expect more brands to embrace the genderless movement, or risk failing
to keep pace with changing norms.
THE FUTURE 100 98
Under Armour HealthBox
With the technology industry reaching new heights of cultural
inﬂuence, it’s strange to imagine that only a few years ago the
merger between fashion and digital culture was viewed as a novelty
with questionable staying power.
Uniqlo seemed like an outlier in 2013 when company president Tadashi Yanai
noted that “Uniqlo is not a fashion company, it’s a technology company.”
Today, to prepare for the Internet of Things, all brands can, and should be a
technology brand, says Manning Gottlieb OMD's managing director. In an era of
connecting everyone and everything, there’s a huge tech focus on the latter,
which will be greater enabled by the increasing capacity in 4.5G.
Under Armour is making interesting plays in the connected space — one example
being its partnership with HTC ‘Healthbox’, a one-stop ﬁtness shop with a
wearable ﬁtness band, a set of smart scales and a heart monitor.
Every Brand is a Tech Brand
THE FUTURE 100 99
‘Seven’, a subscription platform by Al Rifai Nuts
Closer to home, Al Rifai Nuts roastery recently launched its ‘Seven’ raw and
organic product line, under a subscription platform that also connects to a calorie
tracker app. Recognizing the importance of healthy eating habits to curbing
stress, ‘Seven’s’ mission is to deliver a weekly recommended intake of
supercharged nuts to people’s doorsteps.
Beyond the wearables in health and ﬁtness, were also seeing broader
applications across industries. Following the recent UK launch of the Amazon
Echo, the Jamie Oliver Group launched a skill with agency AKQA in London. Jamie
fans can now ask Alexa to recommend recipes, discuss the options and, once
they’ve found a suitable recipe, can have it emailed to them.
Why it’s interesting: Brands and retailers are increasingly putting digital
innovation at the core of their strategy, reinventing subscriptions, powering retail
insights with AI, speeding up delivery times and much more.
THE FUTURE 100 110
Bulletproof, Brain Octane fuel
Nootropics: Powering Peak Performance
As the optimized nutrition trend continues to evolve, startups are
using so-called “bio hacking” to engineer products that offer
performance boosting properties without negative side effects.
Nootropics – sometimes called smart drugs – are compounds that enhance brain
function and are becoming a popular way to effectively “hack” the body to
achieve certain goals. Supplements, much like exercise regimes, lend themselves
well to customization, and many consumers are investing in personalized
programs to improve focus, memory and intelligence and boost athletic
Bulletproof, a nootropic coffee, is becoming a popular addition to most health
stores in the region. The coffee when blended with the ‘Bulletproof Brain Octane
fuel’, claims to help drinkers reach peak cognitive performance and enjoy
cumulative long-term beneﬁts. “Our mission is to help people perform better,
think faster, and live better using a proven blend of ancient knowledge and brand
new technologies, tempered by research, science, and measured results from our
customers, top athletes, and medical professionals.” promises the company.
The notion that there are natural limits to our physical and intellectual abilities is
progressively weakening. Electrical muscle stimulation devices (EMS) that
promise a full body workout in 20 minutes have been cropping up in gyms and
ﬁtness centers across the UAE and Lebanon. A study published in the
German-language Dtsch Z Sportmed in September concluded that EMS "may be
a good choice for people unable or simply unwilling to conduct intense resistance
training protocols" because of time constraints and concerns about effect on
For healthcare and tech brands, the future is not only in ﬁnding solutions to
human illness and frailties, but also ﬁnding ways to improve the mental and
physical performance of the healthy through augmentation and bio-upgradable
Why it’s interesting: Self optimization is the watchword of the wellbeing
movement, which is now moving beyond natural enhancement to body “hacking,”
and rising comfort. With the desire to both chemically stimulate and
self-improve while still emphasizing natural, consumers continue to want it all.
World Drone Prix Circuit, Dubai
THE FUTURE 100 132
Anxy magazine founded by Indhira Rojas
New Mental Health
The stigma around mental health is breaking down thanks in part to
life coaching practices and organizations working to provide the
Violence, injustice, inequality and the impact of modern-day living – all prevalent
within MENA societies – are primary drivers of mental illnesses. Yet, the subject
is often hushed and ridiculed, widely viewed as trivial, temporary or self-healing,
taking a backseat to political and economic turmoil that is the mainstay of our
Suicide rates have skyrocketed this past year; one in four Lebanese individuals
suffer from mental illness in their lifetime, with one suicide reported every three
days. And according to a 2013 Dubai Health Authority study, about one in ﬁve
teenage students in the emirate showed symptoms of depression. "There seems
to be a rise in stress, anxiety and depressive feelings in teenagers. This is
exacerbated by the lack of effective coping strategies as well as lack of proper
avenues of emotional release," explained Dr. Kanafani, professor of psychology at
the Middlesex University in Dubai. More parents in the UAE are seeking support
for their troubled teenagers.
Organizations like Embrace, a mental health awareness and support network
afﬁliated with the Department of Psychiatry at the American University of Beirut
Medical Center (AUBMC) and Edraac, a non-proﬁt NGO dedicated to mental
health in Lebanon and the Arab World, are working to educate the public, raise
awareness and break the stigma surrounding mental illness. Edraac organizes an
annual memorial ‘walk’ at the break of dawn, “so that people "wake up" to
awareness about mental illness”. Edraac is also working to install a hotline for
individuals to share their personal stories, when they need to talk.
Companies are now partnering with national organizations to offer users support.
At the end of 2016, Instagram rolled out its new mental health support feature.
Alongside “like” and “comment,” users can now anonymously report posts that
may indicate a need for help. Flagged users receive a message that offers
resources, such as a local support helpline or talking to a friend. Parent company
Facebook has a similar tool, which was expanded in June for users of all
languages it covers.
Why it’s interesting: According to Bayt, 46% of working adults admit to being
stressed – that’s one mental illness during their lifetime, and anxiety rates for
generation Z are already through the roof. In stressed-out times, consumers are
beginning to consider mental health alongside physical health as one of the
many components that comprise wellbeing.
Jimmy Choo, ‘Pick and Choos’ collection
THE FUTURE 100 143
Bulgari Vault app for safekeeping valuable data
Data is the new Luxury
In an age that has become increasingly beholden to data, people will
increasingly come to hold their information as precious. In 2017,
personal data will become the ultimate luxury good.
‘Bulgari Vault’ is a mobile app, created by luxury Roman Jeweler Bulgari, for
safekeeping valuable data. From personal information and passwords to banking
credentials, the platform secures users’ sensitive information in one place,
unlocking it through up to 4 cumulative means - a combination of ﬁngerprint, face
recognition, dot pattern and password options. According to the brand, the data
users input on the Bulgari Vault is physically stored in a high-security bunker in
the Swiss Alps and can be synced from there directly to the app.
Evolving past conventional security on devices, psk series is a series of
jewelry—rings, necklaces, bracelets—with the diamond or gem that would
typically be featured, replaced with something far more valuable per square
millimeter: data. To Wagenknecht and Sunde, psk series shines a harsh light on
technology industry business models that rely on users' data (instead of direct
payment) to fund their operations.
As Wagenknecht, one of the cofounders explains, “by re-contextualizing data as a
physical object—something we recognize, replacing that already universally
valuable object, the diamond, with it—we want to hack the implications of
[peer-to-peer] contributions to the web and digital society.”
THE FUTURE 100 144
psk series jewelry carrying personal data
In an effort that is perhaps more opportunistic than subversive, services that
directly help people sell your data are emerging. One such service, Handshake,
estimates that the average person could net between $1,600 and $8,000 per year
by directly selling their data to companies.
Why it’s interesting: As the conversation around the data value exchange
heightens, personal data management will become more of a priority for people
and organizations. Our SONAR data shows that 81% percent of people in the
MENA believe that they should be compensated for their data with special
services or privileges. Services like Handshake above speak directly to their
MEA Director of the Innovation Group
J. Walter Thompson Intelligence
Mennah Ibrahim, the Innovation Group
Dana El Hassan, the Innovation Group
Roger Boghos, J. Walter Thompson Beirut
To download the full report, please visit http://jwtmea.com/future100_2017
About the Innovation Group
The Innovation Group is J. Walter Thompson’s futurism, research and
innovation unit. It charts emerging and future global trends, consumer change,
and innovation patterns—translating these into insight for brands. It offers
a suite of consultancy services, including bespoke research, presentations,
co-branded reports and workshops. It is also active in innovation, partnering
with brands to activate future trends within their framework and execute new
products and concepts. Mennah Ibrahim, is MEA Director of the
About J. Walter Thompson Intelligence
The Innovation Group is part of J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, a platform
for global research, innovation and data analytics at J. Walter Thompson
Company, housing three key in-house practices: SONAR™, Analytics and
the Innovation Group. SONAR™ is J. Walter Thompson’s research unit that
develops and exploits new quantitative and qualitative research techniques to
understand cultures, brands and consumer motivation around the world. It is
led by Mark Truss, Worldwide Director of Brand Intelligence. Analytics focuses
on the innovative application of data and technology to inform and inspire new
marketing solutions. It offers a suite of bespoke analytics tools and is led by
Amy Avery, Head of Analytics, North America. Lucie Greene is Worldwide
Director of the Innovation Group.