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Saudi and Egypt offer ideal stage for UAE’s The Entertainer

The Entertainer app offers deals in many sectors including attractions, such as the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo Visit Dubai
The Entertainer app offers deals in many sectors including attractions, such as the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
  • New CEO Ahmed Gaber sees major potential growth
  • Tech firm’s offer of discounted products boosted by economic climate
  • Food and beverages is most popular sector for redemption

The Entertainer, a Dubai-based tech company that offers thousands of lifestyle product discounts, is focusing on Saudi Arabia and Egypt for expansion as demand rises amid the current cost of living crunch.

New CEO Ahmed Gaber, who was previously general manager of Visa’s operations in North Africa where he was responsible for developing the digital payments industry, said The Entertainer aims to build on the “exceptional growth” already seen in Saudi Arabia.

Following the launch of the Entertainer app in 2013, and with a presence in UAE and other GCC members, Singapore and South Africa, the business offers its six million members access to more than 12,500 buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) offers and discounts from thousands of partners on food and beverages, hotels, holidays, spas, attractions and fitness, packaged as destination-specific products.

Gaber told AGBI that while the UAE remains the key market, Saudi Arabia and Egypt offer major potential for growth.

At the same time, the company is negotiating sales of non-core markets outside the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) for successful exits.

He said the product offering has been restructured into a tiered model so that customers can pick the product that best suits their needs. 

One of the new products, Entertainer Lite, has been “transformational for the business as now anyone can use it free of charge in all our markets globally,” he added, resulting in “exponential growth of our user base” over the past four months.

According to latest figures, The Entertainer app has four million views per month, with $110 million total customer savings in 2021 alone through six million redemptions.

Known for its dining, attractions and leisure, retail, services and travel offers, it boasts a portfolio of 14 consumer products and has more than 10,000 merchant partners globally.

The Entertainer CEO Ahmed Gaber

Food and beverages remain the most popular sector for redemptions, while the addition of delivery offers has been in demand to meet a change in consumer behaviour since the pandemic.  

On expansion plans, Gaber said Saudi Arabia offers huge potential, with a population that exceeds 36 million with a “healthy mix” of nationals and expats while rapidly growing its tourism sector with more than 29 million international visitors recorded in 2022. 

“Saudi’s GDP is expected to grow by 8 percent at the end of 2022 and thus has incredible potential for our B2B business,” said Gaber.

“The market is underserviced from a loyalty and engagement standpoint. Only a few loyalty solution providers operate in Saudi Arabia which presents unique opportunities for the Entertainer. 

“The F&B sector is also rapidly growing, with over $187m invested in startups in the first half of 2022.

“With such a highly competitive market, businesses also need to build loyalty with their customer base, which allows us to grow within the loyalty space.”

On Egypt, Gaber added that he sees demand for businesses to implement loyalty solutions so that they can stay competitive.  

“With every disruption comes new opportunities, and the travel industry is offering high growth possibilities. 

“Egyptian customers are extremely price sensitive after the pandemic and its financial repercussions and, with a lack of competitors this opens up a niche for us to fill.

“Also, the tourism industry in Egypt welcomed five million visitors in the first half of 2022 alone which provides another untapped opportunity.”

Regarding further expansion planned in the future, Gaber said: “On the business to consumer (B2C) front, we will be laser-focused on the Mena region for the foreseeable future.

“For business to business (B2B), we are open for opportunities if they make commercial sense.” 

The Entertainer, in which Bahrain-based GFH Financial Group acquired a 85 percent stake in 2018, offers customised loyalty and rewards opportunities to over 250 businesses globally.

Customers include the likes of Aldar, HSBC, Emirates Skywards, Visa, Mastercard, Dubai Festival City and Al Futtaim Group.

Gaber said the number of partners is continuing to increase despite the impact of the recent coronavirus pandemic.

“Our partners were quick to pivot during the pandemic, seeking new ways to reward their customers and staff,” he said. 

“Some of our largest programmes with Al Futtaim, Aldar and Mastercard were launched in that immediate post-pandemic period.

“This has provided us with a springboard to increase the number of partners we work with and build on the successes we have had in the past.

“We’ve managed to maintain reliable partners and brought on board a few innovative collaborations.”   

Gaber also said that the current cost of living squeeze is increasing demand for BOGOF offers and discounts globally.

“With inflation remaining high for the foreseeable future, we are already seeing a positive impact in our redemptions, with more and more people looking to live smart and save money – essentially doing more, for less,” he explained.

“I believe that our lifestyle app is the perfect solution for people to enjoy more, for less, especially as we face the current economic uncertainty.

“I’m confident in our new strategy as it positions us as a necessary asset in the UAE as we take strategic steps in Saudi Arabia to generate further profitable growth while simultaneously tapping into Egypt’s market.”

Technology is rapidly changing the business, he said, with location services and notifications making it easier to reach customers about the nearest available offers.

“We integrate our clients with various payment providers who offer money transfer, buy now pay later (BNPL) and instant issuance services,” said Gaber.

“These trends have a positive impact on our business as they urge us to continue improving our products and services.” 

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