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Pokemon Go… is it Pokemon Gone?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Pokemon Go, the “augmented reality” game, took the world by storm when it was launched in July 2016. A bemused global public was deluged with images of people all over the world running about chasing air with their smartphones, in what seemed to be extremely odd behaviour. It was funny, it was fun, and it became the craze of the summer.

Pokemon Go was the first game to really bring Virtual Reality mainstream - before this point VR games had really been a niche market. Players used their smartphones to locate and capture virtual creatures via GPS. It was the craze that launched a thousand newspaper articles, memes, and social media updates. Some said this was the future of online gaming.

Fast-forward a few months, and where has Pokemon Gone? Its fall from popularity was precipitous. By mid-August, analysts were noting the game was on a downward trend. Though Pokemon Go was downloaded more than 500 million times and overall was one of the most popular apps of the year, by mid-September revenues were down (from 16 million dollars per day to 2 million).

Pokemon

Niantic Labs, the game’s developer, responded by introducing a new “buddy” system which allowed users to win game currency, releasing an Apple Watch app and a wearable gadget that lights up when the player is near a new Pokemon.

However, the game was criticised for not including enough “deep” elements to keep players interested once they had played the game extensively. There was controversy over health and safety concerns, with the authorities in various countries warning of public nuisances caused by people playing the game and placing themselves in harm’s way on public streets, for example.

Arguably, a more serious controversy was the issue of “Pokemon tracking” apps, developed by third party developers. These apps proved very popular with users, because they made it easier to find the Pokemon characters. But at the same time, they gave user information to all sorts of third-party providers who could use it for advertising or other purposes – which contravened user security. However, Niantic obliged these developers to shut down their apps; the flip side of this move was that it reduced the enjoyment factor for many players.

So where to now for Pokemon Go? The answer probably lies in expanding to new markets, while at the same time working on “deepening” the gaming experience for existing players. A “social” element might work, involving players being able to compete or collaborate with each other. The Pokemon brand is so strong that with a properly-devised strategy for acquiring new users and re-engaging existing users, it could possibly regain its place at the top of the digital charts.

Did you know that in Mayan civilisation, chocolate was so valuable it was used as currency? The Mayans believed the cocoa bean was worth more than gold dust, and restricted its cultivation so as not to “devalue” their money.

The Mayans were conquered by the Aztecs, who in turn were conquered by the Spanish, and thus chocolate spread to Europe and the rest of the world. In its earliest forms, chocolate was not sweet - in fact it was quite bitter. It was only when the Spanish began adding sugar to it that the taste we know as modern chocolate was born.

In parts of Latin America, chocolate is still used widely as an ingredient in savoury dishes. So, combining chocolate with ingredients that are not “sweet” isn’t new. However, it has to be said that there are some weird and wacky combinations out there. In honour of Chocolate Covered Anything Day on December 16th here are some of the weirdest chocolate-covered snacks we’ve found:

Choclate Onion Food

Chocolate covered onions: Muellers Chocolate in Philadelphia sells these delicacies, which have become world famous. Tourists flock to the store to pick up one of the chocolate covered raw onions.

Chocolate covered pickles: Believe it or not, the internet is full of recipes for chocolate-covered gherkins. Aficionados cite the sweetness of the chocolate and the sourness of the pickle, which combine to produce an interesting set of flavours.

Chocolate covered insects: No, it’s not your worst nightmare, it’s merely a trip to Fortnum and Mason, London’s upscale emporium. The food hall stocks scorpions covered in chocolate. This one’s only for the brave.

Chocolate covered roses: Say it with flowers, they say. It’s even better if the flowers are covered in chocolate, making them edible.

Chocolate covered beef jerky: Colorado chocolatiers “The Chocolate Therapist” have come up with an unusual product: beef jerky dipped in chocolate. It’s certainly a quirky combination of flavours but apparently quite popular.

On the other hand, some combinations are more run of the mill and work well as everyday snacks:

Chocolate covered popcorn: It’s a twist on the caramel flavoured popcorn readily available in UAE cinemas. Popped kernels are dipped in chocolate for a sweet treat.

Chocolate covered Wasabi peas: Strangely, the combination of spicy wasabi seasoning and sweet chocolate actually works.

Chocolate covered seaweed: It’s all the rage in Korea, apparently. Japanese and Koreans are fans of this snack, which combines chocolatey goodness with the health benefits of seaweed. Your daily dose of minerals, vitamins and iodine wrapped in a delicious coating? Why not?

Chocolate covered carrots: Carrots are healthy, and part of your five-a-day plan. But cover them in chocolate and they become a decadent crunchy treat.

Chocolate covered chilli peppers: Bringing chocolate back to its Latin American roots, this is a time-honoured if mouth-singeing combination.

The top 5 gadgets bought online

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The 21st century has made geeks of us all. It used to be only the nerds and aficionados who were interested the latest tech gizmos. Not anymore. In fact, it’s now a battle to keep up. But fret not – you can keep ahead of the gadget revolution with our list of the top 5 gadgets bought online (in alphabetic order).

Even better, you can power up your UAE Exchange gocash prepaid card to purchase online while keeping your financial details secure and budgeting your purchases. You can even hand the card to your family without worrying about them breaking the bank – because you have full control. So, keep up with the very latest must-have gadgets with our handy guide here:

Apple iPAD Pro: This smaller version of last year’s Pro comes in at 9.7 inches, but still keeps the best features of its bigger brother, including support for the Apple Pencil. The TrueTone screen is flawless, and the powerful processor is impressive. In addition, it comes with the Smart Connector, which fits the Smart Keyboard.

Amazon Kindle Oasis: The debate about whether the e-reader has had its day rumbles on, but Amazon is unperturbed, launching the Kindle Oasis as the Bentley of e-readers. It’s lightweight, with a high-resolution screen and a choice of leather covers. The interface is slick and easy to use, which means all your reading material is to hand wherever you are.

5Gadgets

DJI Phantom 4: Drones are the quintessential gadget of the year, and this particular model might be the best of the lot. The latest update from DJI, it’s a quadcopter camera drone that is so easy to use it makes anyone an expert. Its smart technology means it can dodge obstacles in its way, and it shoots spectacular 4K footage. Whether you’re just out to take some pretty pictures, or a professional looking for that extra edge, this is the drone for you.

Fitbit Flex 2: The Flex 2 finally gives fitness fans a swim-proof tracker. Like the original, it has LED lights that tell you your progress, and it can be worn as a pendant. This new gadget is 30% smaller than the original. Like the original Flex, it tracks steps, distance, calories burned, and active minutes. However, it goes beyond the original in adding automatic sleep tracking, automatic exercise recognition and swim tracking. An essential tool for fitness fans everywhere.

HTC Vive: The top gadget for virtual reality on the market, the Vive enables you to play games as you move around your room in “room-scale VR”. It’s an exhilarating experience, unlike any other available. At the moment, the range of games for Viva is a little limited, but nevertheless it’s the future for home entertainment.

So whether you’re a fully-fledged geek or a technophobe, don’t fret about not being on-trend; there’s a must-have gadget to suit everyone. Happy shopping!

2016 has been a superb year for PlayStation gamers. From high-quality superhero romps to fighting games and mind-boggling puzzlers, this year's calendar has never been more exciting for gamers. While we all wait for the launch of PlayStation VR, here are 10 of the top PlayStation games keeping game aficionados busy:

1. Uncharted 4
This action-adventure video game hits all the right notes with stunning visuals, massive set pieces and storytelling. According to The Guardian, Uncharted 4 is in the category of games that “everyone should experience”.
Developed by Naughty Dog

2. Dishonored 2
Applauded for its new characters, locations and mythical settings, Dishonored 2 is an action-adventure stealth video game that has been nominated for several awards this year. Superb art direction meets refined stealth-based gameplay for hours of immersive fun.
Developed by Arkane Studios

3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This open-world action role-playing video game is now in its third iteration since 2015. Winner of multiple Game of the Year awards, The Witcher is being lauded for its narrative, beautifully rendered characters, world designs, combat and visuals.
Developed by CD Projekt RED

4. The Witness
Non-verbal cues take centre stage in this beautiful 3D puzzle video game. Players are tasked with exploring an open world on an island populated with natural and manmade structures. The game is winning kudos for its beautifully structured puzzle gameplay, immersive audio, big themes and well-executed ideas.
Developed by Thekla, Inc.

5. Doom
Doom has come a very long way from the pixelated cult classic first released in 1993. The 2016 reboot delivers an intense first-person shooter critically acclaimed for its brilliant Glory Kill mechanics, solid multiplayer capabilities, graphics and gameplay. The game became the second-best-selling video game in the UK and US in its first week post release.
Developed by idSoftware

The 10 PlayStation Games that got us hooked in 2016

6. Ratchet and Clank
By now, Ratchet and Clank have a history of travelling the universe and saving it from evildoers. The lovable duo is at it again in this reboot, which has been remastered for today’s audiences. Get ready for over the top weapons, full-out action and healthy dose of science fiction as you save the day!
Developed by Insomniac Games

7.Titanfall 2
In 2014, Titanfall took the gaming world by storm, combining nimble first person shooter action with heavy mech battles. Titanfall 2 continues the themes that made the first so memorable with a smart, action-packed and superbly-paced offering. The multiplayer has an additional Bounty Hunter mode that has reviewers fawning!
Developed by Respawn Entertainment

8. Battlefield 1
Battlefield 1 brings the first Great War (WWI) to savage life. The sheer scale and intercontinental scope of the massive conflict are given the airing they deserve. An emotionally charged and often sombre single-player mode serves as effective training for the expansive multiplayer fields where the game really comes into its own. Battlefield 1 offers hours of exhilarating and intelligent team gameplay while successfully capturing the sheer havoc and scale of WWI.
Developed by EA DICE

9. Dark Souls 3
An action role-playing video game, Dark Souls 3 became publisher Bandai Namco’s fastest selling game in their history. Praised for its visuals and dark atmospheric world, the newest chapter in the Dark Souls journey also benefits from one of the best combat systems in the industry.
Developed by FromSoftware

10. FIFA 17
In 1993, Electronic Art’s FIFA Football game became the first to get an association license from FIFA. 23 years later, FIFA 17 is still wowing audiences across the world with a brand new graphics engine, scintillating on-pitch action, and stunning animations. FIFA 17 also boasts a story mode, with players starting off as potential superstar Alex Hunter, and guiding his career through trials and matches until he makes it.
Developed by EA Canada

Enjoy gaming! And remember that the prepaid Sony PlayStation co-branded UAE Exchange gocash card is designed for gamers to safely spend online while controlling their budget and safeguarding their financial details.

Empowering women is the hallmark of a prosperous, forward-looking country, and also good for society as a whole. A popular research by the United Nations (UN) has shown that countries where women form an integral part of the social and economic discourse have faster economic growth, better health, and higher education rates.

For this reason, the empowerment of women is key to the development of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The country’s leadership has placed gender equality as one of the pillars of UAE Vision 2021.

Happy UAE National day

With this in mind, on the occasion of the 45th UAE National Day, here’s a look at some inspirational Emirati women (listed alphabetically) who are waving the national flag high on the world stage.

Elham Al Qasimi:

In 2010, Elham became the first Arab woman and the first UAE national to reach the North Pole, having embarked on an unsupported polar expedition – with no food drops, no re-supplies and no visits to towns or settlements.

Lubna Khalid Al Qasimi:

The current UAE Minister for Tolerance, Lubna is the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the UAE. A member of the Sharjah royal family, she is President of Zayed University, and was listed this year by Forbes as the 43rd most powerful woman in the world. She has championed UAE’s cause of free trade and openness across the world in her roles as Minister of State for International Cooperation, and Minister of Economics and Planning of the United Arab Emirates.

Mariam Al Mansouri:

Mariam is the first UAE national female fighter pilot, and was one of the very first women to join the country’s air force academy. She leads UAE mission airstrikes against terror groups, and has flown over Syria in an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Nada Al Bedwawi:

Nada competed in the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in the women’s 50 metre freestyle swimming event, thus becoming the first female Olympic swimmer from the UAE to do so. She was the country’s flag bearer at the Olympic Parade of Nations during the opening ceremony.

Reem Al Marzouqi:

Engineer Reem is the first citizen of the UAE to be granted a patent in the United States of America. She received it for her invention of a car that can be driven without hands - the car is entirely foot controlled, and its system is the first of its kind.

Supporting women empowerment, global remittance brand UAE Exchange is also a champion of the cause. Earlier this year, the brand launched a branch staffed entirely by women. The outlet, at the Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA), is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the Middle East by any exchange house and is also in line with the vision of the UAE Federal Government in bringing gender equality.

From the above examples of strong Emirati women, who are making a difference both in the country and on the global stage, each of us should draw inspiration and support women empowerment and inclusion in our own ways.

So, tell us which other Emiratis have inspired or influenced you?

The culture of gaming is deeply entrenched today in our lifestyle. Unlike yester years, there isn’t a stereotypical profile for gamers. Anyone could be a gamer today. The gaming genre has spread its roots far and wide catering to every interest area. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 32% of gamers are between the age of 18-35 years and 29% of them are under 18 years and 39% are 36 years and above. In parallel, the gender gap has been slimming as well due to the increase of female gamers in recent years (48% of gamers are females according to ESA). In terms of choices, action and shooting games still trump the top choices followed by sports, role-playing and other genres. Gaming is so engrained into every household these days that on a lighter note it is said that even grandmas know to play the Angry Birds!

According to Newzoo, the market intelligence firm, global gaming market will grow with a CAGR of +6.6% towards 2019, eventually reaching $118.6 billion with mobile gaming at $52.5 billion. It is noted to be one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world with millions of tech companies worldwide pouring investments into the same. Moving from arcades to living rooms, gamers now play and compete against each other through the internet and cloud technology.

Heres why the next gamer could be your boss your nephew or even your mom

Most games require you to have an online account for upgrades or new game purchases. The plight of such gamers is the absence of a bank account deterring them from accessing the latest games and products offered. Keeping this challenge in mind, UAE Exchange has partnered with Sony PlayStation for co-branding its popular multi-currency pre-paid card, gocash. This means you don’t need a credit or a debit card to buy your favourite game. All you need to do is simply load the gocash card with money and enjoy a one-stop payment method which can carry six currencies at a time including US dollars (USD).

Get your game on! Visit your nearest UAE Exchange branch to get your gocash card today!

Do you enjoy exhilarating plunges, splashes and gravity defying thrills? Then gear up for your adventurous day-out in Dubai. Dash into the action packed, record breaking theme parks mentioned below to create unforgettable breath-taking moments this weekend.

IMG Worlds of Adventure

If you are a cartoon and marvel comic fan, then the world's largest indoor theme park, IMG Worlds of Adventure is a treat for you.

Located on Mohammad Bin Zayed Road just beyond Global Village, you can join the Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain America and the Hulk as they take to the skies to battle evil Ultro. Blasting off into a thrilling roller coaster ride across the lost valley filled with pre-historic dinosaurs through the Dubai desert would leave the dare-devil in you thrilled beyond words. However if you are looking for some light hearted adventure, you can help the Powerpuff girls, and Ben10 on their city saving missions. After so much of live action, if you’d like to lay back, there are 12 movie screens where you could watch a nice flick.

Wild Wadi Waterpark

If you love sliding into splashy water rides surrounded by Arabian folklore, then Wild Wadi Waterpark is a place you must visit. Located near the Burj Al Arab, there is never a dull moment in this largest water park of the Middle-east. After getting drenched at the 59 feet waterfall, be ready to get tossed by three tornados at Tantrum Alley, and glide down 120 metre tandem slides at an astonishing speed of 80km/h at Jumeirah Sceirah. You can also experience the ultimate surf experience at the flow rides in Wild Wadi.

Theme park in Dubai

Aquaventure Waterpark

If you are a marine life lover, then this Aquaventure water park at the Atlantis on Palm Jumeirah Island will be your paradise. Swim with Dolphins, cuddle sea lions, feed cownose rays and also shoot down the 27.5 metre near-vertical plunge and enjoy an electrifying ride with the sharks. You can also battle with the king of the sea at the Tower of Poseidon rides and get driven to frenzy at the mysterious Tower of Neptune rides. Now if you want some inner peace, sail down the soothing river ride that’s the longest in this region.

Ski Dubai

How about some ice skiing, snowboarding, sledging and playing with the penguins in Dubai? Yes, the city of superlatives, Dubai, has it all. Part of the Mall of the Emirates, one of the largest shopping malls in the world, this indoor ski centre is sure to satisfy your winter sport cravings. You can ride the Snow Bullet and soar as high as 16 meters above the ground, while racing your family and friends along the 150 meter long zip line.

Lego Land

If your children are Lego toy fanatics, then you’ll have to head to Lego Land, the massive interactive theme park on Sheikh Zayed Road opposite Palm Jebel Ali, where children can ride, race, build, explore and shop Legos to their heart's content. Again this is the first theme park in the Middle-East to be based on the block-building toy range, Lego. If you are not a big fan of Legos, you can visit Riverland, the themed district on the shores of the beautiful man-made river at Lego Land.

So are you ready for the adventure? Tell us where you’d like to go!

Five ways to fight Monday blues!

Monday, 07 November 2016

Returning to work on Monday morning after a fun weekend could be really hard. With meetings, deadlines and more work lined up, anxiety, sadness and stress could overwhelm you. So how do you beat the Monday blues and be more productive?

Here are five ways to get more work done and get back to your productive self on Mondays.

Have a great breakfast

Good food makes everything better. So before you get ready to tackle work, ensure you have a sumptuous breakfast. Now you can be assured that it’s not you that’s cranky!

Dress to impress

Ensure you dress to impress yourself and feel good about the way you look. This is a clear confidence booster that will sail you smoothly through turbulent waters all day.

Monday blues

Arrive early and catch up

Come to work atleast 30 minutes earlier on Monday mornings. Catch up with colleagues and ease your stress over friendly banter. Then check emails and review any to-do lists you may have.

Schedule to take on the biggie

Schedule the most challenging task to be completed first. This will make you feel more accomplished as you start your week.

Prep before the weekend
There are some preps you could do on Friday, which will help you ward off the Monday blues easily. Before you leave for your weekend, make a list of what needs to be done the following week. This way, everything is better organised and ready to go, when you return, Monday morning.

How will you fight the Monday blues? Tell us!

Does thinking about your life after 60, send fluttering butterflies down your tummy?

As an expat in your 30s, you get anxious when random pop-ups on health, family, finances, property and homeland begin clouding your mind. Regardless of whether you want to be a raring entrepreneur post retirement or would like to stay laid back exploring the world, here are two bouncers you’ve got to have on your side, to enjoy your retired life. They are none other than wealth and health!

Wondering how to get them to be your pals? Follow the tips below.

plan for retirement

Visualise how you’d like to live after retiring

Spend some time to figure out how and where you’d like to spend your retired life. How would you like to keep yourself engaged and fulfilled? How much travelling you’d like to do? Would you be working part-time to support yourself?

Be realistic about your aspirations.

Calculate the money needed

Based on the answer to the above questions, figure out how much money you’ll need to support your retired life style. Take the help of retirement calculators from Global Eye or Bloomberg that’s available online to tentatively come up with a figure. It helps to calculate based on the worst-case scenario.

Meet a certified financial planner

Do you have the time, knowledge or expertise to weigh and decide on investment options and financial goals? If the answer is no, then a certified financial planner should be your new best friend. Spend a lot of time with the planner to help him understand your goals, income, taxes and retirement aspirations. Apart from suggesting an apt investment portfolio, your financial planner would also manage your investments by closely monitoring and analysing the financial markets.

Start investing today

When do you begin investing for your retirement? The sooner the better. The earlier you begin, the less you’ll have to pay.

Usually employers in UAE offer International Pension and Savings Plans (IPPs and ISPs), enhanced End of Service Benefit (ESB) or End of Service Gratuity or Provident Scheme payment. Ensure you contribute to any pension scheme your employer offers. Remember to back up your pension income with a customised stock portfolio that matches your risk and investment goals. Plan your portfolio in consultation with your financial planner.

Stay engaged and healthy

The happiest retirees spend their retirement fruitfully engaged. They are either entrepreneurs or consultants or help around with the family. Hence figure out what you’d like to pursue after retiring.

A recent study from HSBC, The Future of Retirement 2016, polled more than 1,000 UAE residents and found that almost half the working age population believe that poor health will make saving for their retirement more difficult. Hence it’s important you maintain good health. Eat right, sleep well, play often, exercise at least three times a week and maintain strong social/ familial bonds for great mental and physical shape.

With the above tips in mind, be prepared for a hassle -free retirement life!

Are you travelling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to seal a business deal? Don’t bust this opportunity by being ignorant of their cultural and business etiquettes.

UAE’s multi-cultural environment, hospitable business setting and the efficient labour market makes this country a conducive trading and investment hub of the middle-east region. However observing cultural protocol is key to your business success with Emirati partners or stakeholders. If you are unaware of the cultural nuances, you’d run the risk of being branded rude or non-serious. That’s definitely something you want to avoid!

Hence, follow these effective business etiquette tips to crack the deal.

Blog on Business Etiquettes in UAE

Greet with care

When entering the room, greet the senior most person first. Then greet all the others with “assalamu alaikum” which means “peace be upon you” and return their greeting with “wa alaikum assalam,” meaning “peace be upon you, too.” This will surely earn you brownie points!

If you are uncomfortable with the pronunciation, try using online tools for language translation.

Wait for the hand shake

While greeting, it is better that you wait for your host to initiate the hand shake. Once your host extends his hand, then put out your right hand for a brief but firm shake. Holding hands among men while leading you into the office is quite common.

Dress modestly

Darker shades of suit are considered to be appropriate for business meetings. The culture of UAE requires both men and woman to dress modestly. Clothes that reveal the knees, arms and shoulders are generally not tolerated. And if you are a non-Muslim, you are not expected to wear a hijab, except when you visit religious sites.

Build relationship

Business deals are all about the rapport and trust factor. Hence genuinely build a relationship by enquiring politely about the well-being of your host’s family without prying too much. Remember that money, health, religion, politics are taboo topics that may land you in trouble.

Negotiate patiently

Business meetings in UAE happen in a relaxed style. Hence don’t be offended if your business partners arrive a bit late to the meeting. While seated ensure that the sole of your shoe does not face upwards. Negotiate patiently as the decision-making process may take some time. If you are invited to coffee or shisha in a majli, just go for it, as it could be a great way to close a deal!

Dine without declining

Refusing the food offered is not considered good manners and may lead to misunderstandings. Hence if you are a vegetarian or are advised to avoid certain food due to medical reasons, let your host know about it politely. If alcohol is not offered, it’s wise not to ask for the same. Remember to compliment your host’s food and hospitality.

Finally, do not schedule any business meeting on a Friday, as it is when weekend begins for UAE.

Any other tips on business etiquettes you have in mind? Let us know!

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