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Microsoft and Amazon Drop Out of Game Developers Conference

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Following in the footsteps of several other major tech firms including Sony and Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Epic have said that they will no longer be attending this year’s Game Developers Conference due to the growing health risks posed by COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus. “After a close review of guidance by global health authorities and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve made the difficult decision to withdraw from participating at Game Developers Conference 2020 in San Francisco,” Microsoft wrote on its Game Stack Blog.

Instead, Microsoft will host live-streamed versions of “the majority” of its planned GDC panels, including panels covering its next-generation Xbox Series X hardware, Project xCloud streaming, and game development sessions from its various Xbox Game Studios teams. The streams will be shown on its website from March 16 through 18, the first three days of GDC.

“Regrettably, uncertainty around health concerns has made it unviable to send our employees, and so we have made the difficult decision to withdraw attendance,” Epic wrote in a tweet. Like Microsoft, it said that it would disseminate Epic news through “other channels.” In addition to multiple panels, Epic was set to hold its annual “State of Unreal” briefing at GDC, which is usually home to major announcements.

In addition to its GDC panels, Microsoft has traditionally hosted a separate ID@Xbox event in San Francisco during the show at which press are able to play new indie games coming to Xbox, as well as interview developers. Microsoft has confirmed that it is canceling this event and will announce “alternative plans” for sharing this information in the “short term.”

This puts Microsoft, Amazon, and Epic on a growing list of gaming and tech companies who are skipping Game Developers Conference, which takes place in downtown San Francisco from March 16 through 20, amid the rising number of diagnosed coronavirus cases worldwide. Last week, both Facebook and Sony announced they would be pulling out over concerns about the spread of the virus. On Monday, Electronic Arts sent out a note to employees saying it was limiting its presence at the conference and telling employees not to travel to San Francisco where the event is held.

Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services has also pulled out of the 2020 show in response to “continued concerns over COVID-19.” In its place, Amazon is planning a “global online event” in May that will show what its AWS Game Tech team was originally going to debut in person along with some extras. You’ll hear more about it in the weeks ahead, Amazon said.

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Events

HUAWEI XMAGE Awards Celebrate Photographers From MEA

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Huawei announced the 57 winners of the XMAGE Awards 2023. The competition, which spotlights photos taken with Huawei devices, named three Grand Prize winners, 17 Best-in-Category winners, 34 Runner-up winners, and three Honorable Mentions.

This year’s winners were selected from more than 600,000 entries received between April 7 and August 15 from participants from nearly 100 countries. After China, the five countries with the highest number of entries were Malaysia, Türkiye, Poland, the Philippines, and the UAE. The most popular phone models used were the HUAWEI P60 Pro, HUAWEI P40 Pro, and HUAWEI Mate 40 Pro.

Out of the 17 Best-in-Category winners in the Global XMAGE Awards, one hails from Egypt. Sadek Khafagy won the award in the Outdoor category for his work titled “Reflection.” His image captures the striking beauty of the unique rock formations of The Wave in Arizona. After a rainy day, water pools in this area reflect the oranges and yellows of the layered rock walls and bright blue sky. Khafagy’s photograph masterfully depicts this vista in perfect symmetry.

A number of photographers from the MEA region have won special awards from the Huawei community. The UAE, being one of the countries with the most submissions, bagged 10 out of the 15 MEA XMAGE Awards dolled out in 2023. Their images told rich visual stories from breathtaking landscapes, glistening architecture, and the diverse culture of the UAE. Talented photographers from Saudi Arabia and South Africa also earned Special Awards. The special awards had gold, silver and bronze winners in several categories ranging from Portraits and Art&Fashion to Hello Life and Outdoor.

Gold Winners: In the Art&Fashion category, the image “Art-Chitecture” captures a unique architectural design with excellent composition that almost makes it look like a flower. The portrait “Drying Up” is a monochrome shot of a man drying hotel towels, full of a sense of story. And “Water Drop” in the Hello Life category was a creatively inverted macro shot of a water droplet against a surreally colourful background.

Silver Winners: In Hello Life, “Golden Summertime” encapsulated the radiance of summer in a vivid splash of golden sunset colours. The portrait “Behind the Mask” shows an Emirati girl with her eyes conveying deep emotion behind her traditional face mask, a poetic image that celebrates cultural heritage. The joyful “Best Buddies” image depicts the silhouette of children at the beach against the colourful hues of the evening sky, representing the innocence and sincerity of childhood friendship.

The expressive portrait “Innocent Beauty” masterfully uses chiaroscuro lighting to accentuate the doe-eyed gaze of a young girl. In the Outdoor category, the “Skyscrapers” feature tiny window cleaners rappelling down the gleaming facade of a soaring skyscraper. This photo contrasts immense architecture with small human figures.

Bronze Winners: The serene “The Kite Runner” captures a solitary young boy silhouetted against a misty dawn sky as he tries to fly his kite. The cinematic “Life Sun” depicts the blazing sun casting dramatic rays through the immense desert landscape of Al-Ula. Another spectacular shot titled “Kyrgyzstan Postcard View” documents the culmination of a rewarding 9-hour mountain trek, showcasing the cascading valleys and jagged peaks revealing themselves in a breathtaking panorama.

The “The Last Light” is an atmospheric landscape taken at dusk, the fading sun casting the mountainous terrain in an ethereal glow. The “Night Under the Galaxy’s Lights” places an SUV in the middle, framed by the dazzling sweep of the Milky Way and some light-painting trickery. The image titled “There is No Love Like Snail Love” playfully highlights nature’s wonder through two spiralled gastropods tenderly exploring each other’s shells. And the portrait of a farmer carrying a woven basket on his head demonstrates excellent cultural storytelling.

Through unique perspectives, artistry, and storytelling, these 15 photographers from the Middle East and Africa have proven themselves at the forefront of their field.

“Dragon Clouds” by Domcar Calinawan Lagto from the Philippines, “Airshow” by Piotr Cebula from Poland, and “Fearless Eagle” by Dou Chuanli from China were awarded the Grand Prizes. Each Grand Prize winner will receive 10,000 USD (before tax) from the XMAGE creation fund, to support their photography and to encourage them to continue using Huawei devices in the future.

The 17 Best-in-Category winners and the 34 Runner-up winners were selected from each category, and will each receive $1500 and $1000, respectively.

The HUAWEI XMAGE Awards showcase how the XMAGE brand has inspired users’ creativity in mobile photography. Mobile imaging is a powerful lens for capturing life’s precious moments and as a tool for stimulating visual ideas. The HUAWEI XMAGE Awards has come a long way since its launch in 2017. The contest has inspired individuals to create magnificent photographs with their phones. It has also become a platform for showcasing wonderful images that provide glimpses into photographers’ perspectives on the world and their daily lives. Today, the XMAGE Awards has emerged as a prominent global photography event, igniting a wave of enthusiasm among individuals to express their emotions, exude confidence, and unleash their creativity through mobile photography.

The full list of award winners is available here: https://consumer.huawei.com/en/campaign/xmage

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Artificial Intelligence

The 43rd Edition of GITEX GLOBAL to Take Place From 16th to 20th October 2023

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The surge in international demand has rallied the world’s largest tech and start-up event to scale even higher and bigger in 2023, spearheading a global tech takeover across two Dubai mega venues next month. The 43rd edition of GITEX GLOBAL will take place from 16-20 October 2023, the blockbuster tech showpiece once again reaching full capacity at the Dubai World Trade Centre as it prepares to host more than 6,000 exhibitors, while Expand North Star, the world’s largest start-up event hosted by Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, will kick-off its largest ever edition from 15-18 October 2023 at the new Dubai Harbour venue, featuring 1,800 start-ups from 100-plus countries at the Middle East’s biggest iconic superyacht hub.

GITEX GLOBAL and Expand North Star will comprise a combined 41 halls spanning 2.7 million sq. ft of exhibition space – a 35 per cent increase over the previous year – converging the best minds and most visionary companies to scrutinise, challenge, define, and empower the digital agendas of the world. GITEX GLOBAL will present the year’s largest AI showcase and summit, its record growth fuelled by the AI innovation wave currently gripping the globe’s imagination, as 3,500 AI-infused exhibitors reveal how this next big technology shift is transforming lives, governments, businesses, and society.

Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President, Events Management, DWTC

The AI boom has also added another layer of complexity to protecting digital assets and critical IP infrastructure, with the elevated GITEX Cyber Valley taking the fight directly to the dark cyber-criminal underworld, gathering leading info-sec brands and global experts at the year’s biggest cyber security showcase. Amplifying this growth, the launch shows GITEX Impact and Future Urbanism Expo promise to be the epicentre of ground-shaking shifts in climate technology while advancing sustainable cities, and co-creating a net zero future ahead of the UN climate change summit, COP28.

“The intense demand for involvement in GITEX from the global tech and start-up community is an acknowledgement of the strong impetus to learn, exchange, debate and challenge the recent developments in the tech sphere,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President of Events Management at DWTC, the organiser of GITEX GLOBAL and Expand North Star. “From AI, and cyber to the mounting interest in clean tech, GITEX converges public and private sector leaders from more than 170 countries to explore the new unknown paradigms of the future digital economy.”

Steven Yi, President, Huawei MIddle East and Central Asia

Expand North Star hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy will scale to a record size in 2023, featuring 1,800 start-ups start-up exhibitors this year to connect, inspire, and extend engagements in one of the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystems. More than 1,000 investors from 70 countries with $1 trillion under management will also converge at the new Dubai Harbour venue, as they look to ramp up the momentum in start-up investment after a year of tepid achievements.

Saeed Al Gergawi, Vice President of the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, said, “Expand North Star is set to drive the next era of digital entrepreneurship and inspire the next generation of innovators and thinkers. This landmark event will serve as a strategic catalyst to expand the future of Dubai’s digital economy, creating an unrivalled platform to gather key stakeholders from the global start-up community here in the emirate.”

GITEX GLOBAL 2023 welcomes the biggest tech names delving into the latest trends, risks, challenges, and opportunities that are redefining entire industries, spearheaded by returning titans including Dell Technologies, e&, Google, Huawei, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and Tonomus. Among the debut exhibitors supercharging their international growth strategies and forging new connections are Salesforce, Broadcom, Beyon, and Deloitte.

Saeed Al Gergawi, Vice President of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy

Steven Yi, President of Huawei Middle East & Central Asia said: “At Huawei, GITEX GLOBAL continues to hold great importance to our business year after year.  This year, our theme, ‘Accelerate Intelligence,’ demonstrates our commitment to delve into the transformative power of AI, networks, and cloud technologies. Together, we will explore how these converging forces are reshaping our world and how we can unleash the full capabilities of AI-powered solutions to reshape industries worldwide with cyber security, privacy protection and safeguarding our customer’s digital transformation journey remaining our top priorities.”

More information is available at www.gitex.com and www.expandnorthstar.com

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Events

Here’s How to Watch HONOR’s IFA 2023 Keynote

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HONOR is all set to kick off the IFA keynote event through its “Unfold Tomorrow” event on the convention stage at IFA 2023 on 1 September 2023. The keynote live stream is set to start at 10 am CEST (12 pm, UAE time) live from Berlin, Germany.

You will be able to watch the HONOR IFA 2023 Keynote live at the following links:

Website: https://www.hihonor.com/global/events/honor-ifa/
X: https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1BdGYyqWmWBGX
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsHkd0pRHx0

At IFA 2023, HONOR will also showcase a concept phone that will break boundaries across tech and fashion. The device will be unveiled exclusively at the event in Berlin. The company will also launch the new HONOR Magic V2 at the event.

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