Introducing the World's First UEFA Champions League Concept Store, in Abu Dhabi
Football’s most iconic club tournament, the UEFA Champions League, is to have its first-ever concept store where football lovers can enjoy a shopping and dining experience inspired by Europe’s most prestigious sporting stage. The only catch is that you will have to travel to Abu Dhabi for the pleasure.
UAE retailer Marka will soon host the world’s first UEFA Champions League Experience, an immersive concept store and fast-casual dining destination showcasing the very best of the competition.
UEFA and Marka, the first public joint stock company in the UAE to focus on the fast-growing retail market, said the first UEFA Champions League Experience will open in Yas Mall on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
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The inaugural store, designed as a dynamic stage at which to experience the thrill and rush of the Champions League is scheduled to open in May 2015 with plans confirmed for expansion across the Middle East from 2015 and beyond. Whether this comes to Europe anytime soon remains to be seen.
Khaled Almheiri, vice-chairman of Marka, said: “The UEFA Champions League is the most popular club football competition in the world and enjoys a cult following across the Middle East. The UEFA Champions League Experience will be the ideal destination for all football fans to come and enjoy the best of European football and their favourite teams—under one roof. Marka is delighted to be partnering with UEFA to bring the UEFA Champions League Experience first to the UAE and then to the wider region.”
Inspired by the atmosphere, energy and passion of UEFA Champions League football, the 17,000-square-foot destination retail concept will feature a unique combined retail and restaurant offering. Fans will be able to purchase merchandise from top teams including Real Madrid CF, FC Bayern München, FC Barcelona, and Chelsea FC, from dedicated shop-in-shops.
Memorabilia signed by football legends such as Lionel Messi, Steven Gerrard and Cristiano Ronaldo will be on display and available for purchase, complete with a museum where fans can learn more about their favorite teams and players. A wide range of official UEFA Champions League licensed products will also be available.
Guy-Laurent Epstein, Marketing Director of UEFA Events SA, commented: “We are very pleased to announce this exciting new concept, where for the first time in the Middle East, fans will be able to gather and enjoy the best of what the UEFA Champions League stands for and represents. We are glad to offer our fans this exciting, innovative concept and look forward to launching the first of many stores in association with Marka.”
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”