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At the Forefront of the Workplace Revolution



Vassilis Bazinis, the Country Manager for UAE and Oman at Regus speaks about the startup ecosystem in the region and his company’s offerings for entrepreneurs

Tell us about Regus’ offerings in the region.
Regus has been in the region for over 17 years and offers ideal workplace solutions for almost any size company – whether a single entrepreneur setting up a business, a small team startup, or a global corporation as large as Google, Microsoft, and Dell. We have been at the forefront of the workplace revolution globally because we understand the requirements and are able to meet the needs of businesses today.

Our Regus business centres across the region offer options that include:

Serviced Offices – providing a productive, flexible and cost-efficient work environment, with full and part-time workspaces that can be fully personalized to reflect the brand or culture of each business.

Co-working Space – that are often used by start-ups and micro businesses. Our cost-efficient collaboration spaces offer individual workstations within an open-plan, professional business environment.

Business Package – that include a professional address for your business, a local telephone number with call handling and message management, as well as mail collection and forwarding services anywhere in the world. Used by all types and sizes of businesses especially those looking to enter new markets in a low-cost, low-risk way.

Meeting Rooms – that are customizable and conveniently located in a dedicated business environment. They are cost-efficient and flexible and can be booked by the hour, not just by the day.

Business Lounges – that offer unrivaled convenience for our members needing to stay productive on the move and between meetings. Comfortable, well-equipped workspaces with dedicated support teams, access to secure Wi-Fi, print, scan, copy and refreshment facilities.

Businessworld – our signature global membership scheme gives customers instant access to any one of our 3,000 business centres worldwide. The ultimate in productive mobile working, with more than a million members.

Vassilis Bazinis, the Country Manager for UAE and Oman at Regus.

What is the USP of Regus’ offerings compared to the competition?
Regus is the number one global workplace provider, offering working environments to suit any business structure and size. We pioneered flexible working almost 30 years ago and now lead the world in helping companies requiring flexibility for their business and their people.

Our global network of 3,000 business centres in over 100 countries makes it easier for businesses of any size to succeed by working in new and more productive ways. Enterprises also get access to our connected network of business centres, giving them a dedicated place to work. We provide a convenient, high-quality, fully resourced space and highly flexible space to work, whether they need it for an hour, a day or for as long as they need.

How big is the startup community in the region? How can co-working locations benefit them?
The startup community in the region grows every day. Driven by the economic reality of the population growing at a faster rate than there are new jobs being created, entrepreneurialism has become critical across the Middle East and Northern Africa.

If we look at the challenges startups face, the biggest ones are managing their capital expenditure, managing their growth, and maximising productivity. They are all challenges for which Regus is perfectly equipped to address.

Not being locked into a long-term lease for expensive office space is the first way to keep capital expenditure to a minimum. At Regus, we offer total flexibility regarding length of the lease. Other operating costs such as cleaning, maintenance, servicing, and full-time administrative staff are also removed from the operational costs for startups working from Regus business centres.

In terms of managing growth, as a startup, you don’t always know how fast you’re going to expand and how much space you’ll need. Taking too much before you need it can prove unnecessarily costly while taking too little and having to move offices adds just as much additional strain. Regus allows you to expand your workspace requirements easily and quickly as you grow.

The third major challenge for startups is using their time as productively as possible – working in a comfortable well-equipped workspace, having access to the latest IT infrastructure, and benefitting from administrative services frees up time to work on your core business.

Of course, flexible and collaborative spaces also encourage networking, knowledge exchange and potential business opportunities with other like-minded entrepreneurs working in Regus centres.

What according to you are the top five things that entrepreneurs need to look at before selecting a co-working environment?
We’ve mentioned a few already, but the five most important elements to consider when choosing your working environment are:

Find a flexible workspace that gives you the flexibility of choosing when, where and how you work, whilst not being tied into a long-term lease.

Look for a co-working space that can provide administrative services to save you time so that you can concentrate on your business.

Proximity to central business districts, a good address for your business card, and ease of access for you, your staff, and clients is important.

Ensure the co-working space offers flexible packages that allow you to expand or reduce your package as your business changes. Check whether the packages include hot-desking space based on a first come, first served basis? Do their packages include permanent desk space with your own phone line? Do their packages include facilities that allow you to print, scan and courier?

Entrepreneurs of today must think globally and the right choice of co-working space can make this immediately. With workplace solutions providers like Regus, you get access to a global network that allows you to connect with businesses from around the world, to have a workplace in whatever city you’re visiting and to have a base for meetings.

How are co-working spaces better than virtual offices / shared offices / hot desks provided by most free zones in this market?
This really depends on what business license you’re trading under. There are significant differences between co-working spaces located onshore and others located in free zones, in terms of legality. Regus has made it really simple for startups by opening a dual license business centre at the Dubai World Trade Centre, to better serve the business community, no matter where they are licensed.

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‘Black Panther’ and its Science Role Models Inspire More Than Just Movie Awards



Written by Clifford Johnson, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

It has been said many times that the Marvel movie “Black Panther” is an important landmark. I’m not referring to its deserved critical and box office success worldwide, the many awards it has won, or the fact that it is the first film in the superhero genre to be nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards.

Instead, I’m focusing on a key aspect of its cultural impact that is less frequently discussed. Finally a feature film starring a black superhero character became part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – a successful run of intertwined movies that began with “Iron Man” in 2008. While there have been other superhero movies with a black lead character – “Hancock” (2008), “Blade” (1998), “Spawn” (1997) or even “The Meteor Man” (1993) – this film is significant because of the recent remarkable rise of the superhero film from the nerdish fringe to part of mainstream culture.

Huge audiences saw a black lead character – not a sidekick or part of a team – in a superhero movie by a major studio, with a black director (Ryan Coogler), black writers and a majority black cast. This is a significant step toward diversifying our culture by improving the lackluster representation of minorities in our major media. It’s also a filmmaking landmark because black creators have been given access to the resources and platforms needed to bring different storytelling perspectives into our mainstream culture.

2017’s “Wonder Woman” forged a similar path. In that case, a major studio finally decided to commit resources to a superhero film headlined by a female character and directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. Female directors are a minority in the movie industry. Jenkins brought a new perspective to this kind of action movie, and there was a huge positive response from audiences in theaters worldwide.

And beyond all this, “Black Panther” also broke additional ground in a way most people may not realize: In the comics, the character is actually a scientist and engineer. Moreover, in the inevitable (and somewhat ridiculous) ranking of scientific prowess that happens in the comic book world, he’s been portrayed as at least the equal of the two most famous “top scientists” in the Marvel universe: Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic). A black headlining superhero character written and directed by black artists is rare enough from a major studio. But making him – and his sister Shuri – successful scientists and engineers as well is another level of rarity.

Scientists On Screen

I’m a scientist who cares about increased engagement with science by the general public. I’ve worked as a science adviser on many film and TV projects (though not “Black Panther”). When the opportunity arises, I’ve helped broaden the diversity of scientist characters portrayed onscreen.

Jason Wilkes is a black scientist on ‘Agent Carter,’ whose character emerged from the author’s talks with the show’s writers.
Panels from ‘The Dialogues,’ including a black female scientist. ‘The Dialogues,’ by Clifford V. Johnson (MIT Press 2017).

I’ve also recently published a nonfiction graphic book for general audiences called “The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe.” Its characters include male and female black scientists, discussing aspects of my own field of theoretical physics – where black scientists are unfortunately very rare. So the opportunity that the “Black Panther” movie presents to inform and inspire vast audiences is of great interest to me.

The history and evolution of the Black Panther character and his scientific back story is a fascinating example of turning a problematic past into a positive opportunity. Created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, he’s the first black superhero character in mainstream comics, originally appearing as a guest in a “Fantastic Four” Marvel comic. As a black character created and initially written by nonblack authors, guest-starring in the pages of a book headlined by white characters, he had many of the classic attributes of what is now sometimes controversially known as the “magical negro” in American cultural criticism: He ranked extremely highly in every sphere that mattered, to the point of being almost too unreal even for the comics of the time.

Black Panther is T’Challa, king of the fictional African country Wakanda, which is fathomlessly wealthy and remarkably advanced, scientifically and technologically. Even Marvel’s legendary master scientist – Reed Richards of the superhero team Fantastic Four – is befuddled by and full of admiration for Wakanda’s scientific capabilities. T’Challa himself is portrayed as an extraordinary “genius” in physics and other scientific fields, a peerless tactician, a remarkable athlete and a master of numerous forms of martial arts. And he is noble to a fault. Of course, he grows to become a powerful ally of the Fantastic Four and other Marvel superheroes over many adventures.

While likening Black Panther to a ‘refugee from a Tarzan movie,’ the Fantastic Four marveled at his technological innovations in ‘Introducing the Sensational Black Panther.’

The key point here is that the superlative scientific ability of our hero, and that of his country, has its origins in the well-meaning, but problematic, practice of inventing near or beyond perfect black characters to support stories starring primarily white protagonists. But this is a lemons-to-lemonade story.

The Fantastic Four were amazed by the scientific ingenuity of Wakanda in ‘Whosoever Finds The Evil Eye.’

Black Panther eventually got to star in his own series of comics. He was turned into a nuanced and complex character, moving well away from the tropes of his beginnings. Writer Don McGregor’s work started this development as early as 1973, but Black Panther’s journey to the multilayered character you see on screen was greatly advanced by the efforts of several writers with diverse perspectives. Perhaps most notably, in the context of the film, these include Christopher Priest (late 1990s) and Ta-Nehisi Coates (starting in 2016), along with Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey, writing in “World of Wakanda” (2016). Coates and Gay, already best-selling literary writers before coming to the character, helped bring him to wider attention beyond normal comic book fandom, partly paving the way for the movie.

Through all of the improved writing of T’Challa and his world, his spectacular scientific ability has remained prominent. Wakanda continues to be a successful African nation with astonishing science and technology. Furthermore, and very importantly, T’Challa is not portrayed as an anomaly among his people in this regard. There are many great scientists and engineers in the Wakanda of the comics, including his sister Shuri. In some accounts, she (in the continued scientist-ranking business of comics) is an even greater intellect than he is. In the movie, T’Challa’s science and engineering abilities are referred to, but it is his sister Shuri who takes center stage in this role, having taken over to design the new tools and weapons he uses in the field. She also uses Wakandan science to heal wounds that would have been fatal elsewhere in the world.

Black Panther isn’t an isolated genius – his half-sister Shuri is a technological wiz herself.

If They Can Do It, Then Why Not Me?

As a scientist who cares about inspiring more people – including underrepresented minorities and women – to engage with science, I think that showing a little of this scientific landscape in “Black Panther” potentially amplifies the movie’s cultural impact.

Vast audiences see black heroes – both men and women – using their scientific ability to solve problems and make their way in the world, at an unrivaled level. Research has shown that such representation can have a positive effect on the interests, outlook and career trajectories of viewers.

Improving science education for all is a core endeavor in a nation’s competitiveness and overall health, but outcomes are limited if people aren’t inspired to take an interest in science in the first place. There simply are not enough images of black scientists – male or female – in our media and entertainment to help inspire. Many people from underrepresented groups end up genuinely believing that scientific investigation is not a career path open to them.

Moreover, many people still see the dedication and study needed to excel in science as “nerdy.” A cultural injection of Black Panther heroics helps continue to erode the crumbling tropes that science is only for white men or reserved for people with a special “science gene.”

The huge widespread success of the “Black Panther” movie, showcasing T’Challa, Shuri and other Wakandans as highly accomplished scientists, remains one of the most significant boosts for science engagement in recent times.

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TP-Link to Showcase Neffos X20 and X20 Pro at MWC 2019



Neffos, TP-Link’s sub-brand for smartphones, will be exhibiting at the Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, on February 25. The theme for the year’s biggest technology convention for mobile products and innovations is intelligent connectivity, which is in line with TP-Link’s slogan of “Faster Wi-Fi, Better Signal Phone, Smarter Home.”

At the MWC 2019 tech show, Neffos will display Neffos P1 as well with a built-in projector feature for beaming HD content onto a large wall. Neffos P1, which adds a laser projector that can throw a picture as large as 200 inches wide onto a wall or any flat surface in high resolution.

For the first time, the company will also showcase its new Neffos X20 and X20 Pro flagship phones. The two models are expected to hit the market sometime in June, along with Neffos’ own NFUI 9.0 software based on the Android 9.0 Pie operating system. As NFUI 9.0 hasn’t launched yet, the X20 and X20 Pro will be the first devices to run the latest user interface out of the box.

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OPPO’s VOOC Charging System Gets TÜV Rheinland’s Certification



OPPO has received a new safety certification for its proprietary flash charging technology known as VOOC, which can charge a flat smartphone batter up to 40% in just 10 minutes. “The company recognizes that fast charging is now one of the most important demands from smartphone users globally who want a device that can fully charge in minutes, not hours,” said the company in a statement.

OPPO’s VOOC flash charging uses a special adapter and cables to charge devices safely at 25W without overheating—far above the industry standard. The company also offers a Super VOOC system that boosts the charging power to a massive 50W, capable of charging a flat battery to a full charge in just 35 minutes. Most high-end smartphones today take around 2 hours to fully charge.

The latest certification from renowned international safety authority TÜV Rheinland acknowledges that OPPO’s VOOC charging system has undergone rigorous testing across multiple sessions and test cycles to ensure its safety for daily usage. The VOOC system also allows users to safely use their smartphone during charging without it overheating.

OPPO’s VOOC flash charge technology is already used in more than 100 million smartphones worldwide including several models available in the Middle East today. The system is featured in OPPO’s flagship premium handset, the OPPO Find X, as well as its mid to high-end OPPO R17 and R17 Pro devices.

“Such innovations will continue as OPPO plans to raise its global R&D investments to around $1.43 billion in 2019, a 150% year-on-year increase,” said the company.

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