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Azuri Launches 32-inch Pay-As-You-Go Solar Satellite TV System for Off-Grid Africa

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Azuri Technologies has today unveiled its new 32-inch solar satellite TV system specially designed and customised for off-grid customers in Africa. The 32-inch Azuri TV is the latest product release from the company which already has in its product portfolio a 24-inch solar satellite TV. Azuri was the first pay-as-you-go company back in 2016 to integrate solar TV with satellite entertainment in one affordable package for households without access to mains electricity.

Azuri’s 32-inch TV Solar Home System comes with 4 high brightness LED lights, mobile phone charging and a rechargeable torch and radio.  More than 60 satellite TV channels and 20 plus radio channels complete the package. To ensure durability and to meet the conditions of rural environments, the TV features Azuri ToughScreen technology, designed to resist accidental damage during normal use in the home.

The 32-inch AzuriTV will initially be launched in Kenya at only KSh129 per day. The company plans to launch the new TV in other markets across Sub-Saharan Africa later in the year. Kenya has around 10 million households, yet only around 3.9 million households have TV.

Azuri CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth said there are three obstacles preventing rural off-grid consumers from watching TV – access to power, service coverage and the high up-front cost of the installation. AzuriTV addresses all three by providing affordable TV, anytime, anywhere.

“Azuri’s vision is one that sees a level playing field where all consumers have the ability to benefit from modern products and services, regardless of where they live,” said Simon Bransfield-Garth. “Solar TV provides a range of important social benefits including access to news and information and unprecedented connectivity for people without access to power.”

According to the Efficiency for Access Coalition, a coalition to accelerate global energy access through energy-efficient appliances, televisions are the second most desired off-grid appliance, with only solar lighting ranking more highly.

In a survey of Azuri customers, 98% customers said they felt more aware of local and international news while 92% of customers said watching television programs in their preferred language had improved their communications skills. 60% of customers reported seeing their children improve reading, writing and speaking skills since installing an Azuri solar TV.

Educational entertainment, such as the popular farming programme Shamba Shape-up in Kenya and Tanzania can also help rural customers learn and adapt new practices on their farms to improve production and income. Azuri’s pay-as-you-go solar lighting and TV products require customers to make small weekly payments via mobile money to unlock the system’s power. Using this easy payment service, customers are able to access a wide range of modern digital capabilities and services including micro-insurance and media content.

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Majid Al Futtaim’s VOX Cinemas Launches Middle East’s First Interactive Movie Experience

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VOX Cinemas, the dedicated cinema arm of Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail, and leisure pioneer across the Middle East and Africa is introducing CTRL, the region’s first interactive movie experience which lets the audience collectively decide how the plot unfolds. The latest innovation from VOX Cinemas in partnership with entertainment and tech company, Kino Industries, will launch across the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 05 August.

CTRL will be showing Late Shift (UAE PG 13), the world’s first interactive feature-length film, which enables cinemagoers to decide the fate of the lead character and the course of the movie using a simple voting system on an App. During the screening of the high stakes action thriller, which has countless storylines consisting of 180 decision points and seven alternative endings, the audience typically makes 40-50 choices while cutting-edge and seamless technology aggregates the votes and chooses the most popular option. Late Shift was directed and co-written by Tobias Weber, an award-winning filmmaker and a Co-Founder of Kino Industries, and Michael Robert Johnson, author of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. The critically acclaimed movie was awarded the 2018 BAFTA Cymru Award.

Toni El Massih, Chief Content Officer, VOX Cinemas said, “We are incredibly excited to partner with Kino Industries and launch the Middle East’s first interactive movie, which puts the audience in control of countless adaptable storylines. Redefining the cinematic experience and introducing game-changing concepts that exceed our guests’ expectations has been a cornerstone of our success at VOX Cinemas and we continue to push the boundaries of innovation. Using pioneering technology, CTRL seamlessly combines the realism and production values of the film with the interactivity of a videogame to create a new dimension of engagement. Having sold out at the Beijing International Film Festival in less than five minutes, I have no doubt that this unique and exhilarating participatory experience will prove hugely popular with cinemagoers in the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Chady Eli Mattar, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Kino Industries added, “We are thrilled to be teaming up with VOX Cinemas on this exciting venture. For us they represent the epitome of a contemporary exhibitor – they are bold, innovative, forward thinkers, and we at Kino share a similar DNA! Thus, this partnership will be setting the standards of the future of cinema in the region.” The daily screenings of Late Shift will take place at 6 pm and 8 pm (Sunday – Thursday) and 5 pm, 7 pm, and 9 pm (Friday and Saturday) at VOX Cinemas at Mall of the Emirates, Yas Mall, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Al Zahia, The Galleria Al Maryah Island and Wafi City. The experience will also be rolled out across select VOX Cinemas in Saudi Arabia.

VOX Cinemas has been awarded ‘Best Cinema Experience’ at the MENALAC Awards for two years running (2019 and 2020). CTRL complements VOX Cinemas’ portfolio of world-class experiences which includes Snow Cinema at Ski Dubai; Sensory Friendly Screenings; OUTDOOR, an open-air concept, and THEATRE, and GOLD, luxury experiences that combine fine food and film. Tickets for Late Shift are now on sale and can be purchased on the VOX Cinemas website (voxcinemas.com), app, or at the ticket counter at any VOX Cinemas. The movie will be shown in English with Arabic subtitles.

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Billionaire Sir Richard Branson Reaches Space in His Own Ship

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Virgin Galactic has announced that VSS Unity successfully reached space, completing the Company’s fourth rocket-powered spaceflight. Yesterday’s flight was the 22nd test flight of VSS Unity and the first test flight with a full crew in the cabin, including the Company’s founder, Sir Richard Branson. The crew fulfilled a number of test objectives related to the cabin and customer experience, including evaluating the commercial customer cabin, the views of Earth from space, the conditions for conducting research, and the effectiveness of the five-day pre-flight training program at Spaceport America.

Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said, “It is a landmark achievement for the company and a historic moment for the new commercial space industry. With each successful mission, we are paving the way for the next generation of astronauts. I want to thank our talented team, including our pilots and crew, whose dedication and commitment made today possible. They are helping open the door for greater access to space – so it can be for the many and not just for the few.”

VSS Unity achieved a speed of Mach 3 after being released from the mothership, VMS Eve. The vehicle reached space, at an altitude of 53.5 miles, before gliding smoothly to a runway landing at Spaceport America. This seminal moment for Virgin Galactic and Sir Richard Branson was witnessed by audiences around the world. It gave a glimpse of the journey Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronauts can expect when the company launches commercial service following the completion of its test flight program.

Sir Richard Branson said: “I have dreamt about this moment since I was a child, but nothing could have prepared me for the view of Earth from space. We are at the vanguard of a new space age. As Virgin’s founder, I was honoured to test the incredible customer experience as part of this remarkable crew of mission specialists and now astronauts. I can’t wait to share this experience with aspiring astronauts around the world.”

Branson continued, “Our mission is to make space more accessible to all. In that spirit, and with today’s successful flight of VSS Unity, I’m thrilled to announce a partnership with Omaze and Space for Humanity to inspire the next generation of dreamers. For so long, we have looked back in wonder at the space pioneers of yesterday. Now, I want the astronauts of tomorrow to look forward and make their own dreams come true.”

The mission specialists in the cabin were Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor; Colin Bennett, Lead Flight Operations Engineer; Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations; and the Company’s founder, Sir Richard Branson. The VSS Unity pilots were Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, while Kelly Latimer and CJ Sturckow piloted VMS Eve.

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Power League Gaming Unveils New Studio for 360º Gaming and eSports Production

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Power League Gaming (PLG) has announced the launch of the region’s first, fully-equipped 10,000 square foot production studio, that has been specifically built to deliver outstanding eSports and gaming content for regional and global audiences. Set to become home for branded content creation, production, and live broadcasts in the Middle East, the PLG studio has been built to host 360º production solutions, features the highest quality technical standards, and also features the latest broadcast hardware and IT infrastructure.

The studio’s facilities enable the PLG team to deliver seamless live eSports broadcasts and pre-recorded content to a global audience, and has seen leading brands such as Adidas, KFC and Lenovo already utilize the space. A unique facility in the MENA region, the studio also features an overlooking café so spectators can view the action in comfort when live broadcasts and events are taking place. “PLG has been at the forefront of the gaming and eSports sector in the MENA region for the past decade and the company is responsible for the region’s most ambitious related activations. It is what has formed our deep understanding of what resonates with Arabic gaming audiences, and what has powered us to launch the region’s first production studio that will play an integral part in production and development of the sector in the MENA region,” said Mathew Pickering, CEO of Power League Gaming.

He added, “The PLG studio has already produced activations such as the KFC MENA Cup (PubG Mobile) and the Adidas Elite 32 (EA Sports FIFA ’21) and has developed content for brands such as Lenovo and NAMSHI, which we continue to be very proud of. Our studio facility and unmatched industry relationships with leading publishers mean that we can offer the latest and most sought-after associations for brands who are seeking to incorporate gaming into their marketing strategies.”

Power League Gaming is the MENA region’s most disruptive full-service gaming, content, and eSports activation company that is made up of passionate gamers, ex-pro eSports athletes, brand strategists, content creators, designers, and educators. For the past decade, the PLG team has shaped the gaming and eSports sector in the MENA region through its offering of a tailored brand experience from a team that is guaranteed to help clients deliver on their marketing objectives—be it shifting perception, brand equity building, or simply growing the audience base, with tangible ROIs to measure the success.

PLG is Arabic First and actively seeks to engage with Arabic audiences. The company consistently produces ground-breaking, disruptive mechanics that successfully connect global brands with a gaming audience and has also designed engaging content platforms that transfer the skills and experiences necessary to develop the region’s next generation of gaming and content leaders.

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