Hassan Fattah steps down at The National

The National Editor-in-Chief, Hassan Fattah, has stepped down after five years at the newspaper. Deputy Editor, Bob Cowan, has taken on the role of Acting Editor-in-Chief until a permanent replacement has been announced. Hassan joins GEMS Education as Communications Chief, which operates schools in 19 countries.

“It has been a privilege editing what has developed into a distinct, robust and rigorous voice on national and regional affairs,” Fattah said, in an interview with The National. “As I move on to the next stage of my career, I will always look back with fondness and pride on my time at The National.”

House of comms appoints new Account Director

House of comms announces its newest recruit, Joanna Agnew, who joins as Account Director to support a wave of recent client wins. Joining from DABO & CO, where she previously headed up accounts such as BMW Group Middle East and JW Marriott Marquis Dubai/Marriott International, Joanna brings to the table a wealth of local, regional and international experience.

“I’m really excited to be joining the company at such an exciting time in its development,” says Joanna. “I’m looking forward to working with the team to create strategic and targeted campaigns that deliver real results for clients across the region.”

Abby Wilks, founding partner of house of comms, adds: “It has been a fantastic first year for the business, during which we’ve focused on organic growth, building a strong and solid client base and, above all, delivering excellent results for all of our retained and project clients. Joanna is the perfect new addition and we very much look forward to having her as part of our senior management team.”

New Regional Investment Director for UM

Universal McCann (UM), has announced the appointment of Ziad Chalhoub as its new Regional Investment Director. He will be based at UM’s Hive H.Q. in Tecom and will report to Rizk Naifeh, Executive Vice-President of MCN Media. Chalhoub’s remit will see him overseeing all media trading in the GCC and the Levant for UM’s and Magna brands. Ziad has worked on the region’s largest multinational accounts for blue-chip brands including PepsiCo, Du, Kingdom Holding and Beiersdorf, among others.


“In a fragmenting and evolving media marketplace, UM is more than ever committed to securing its market-leading position and competitive edge by recruiting the very best talent that the region has to offer,” said Rizk Naifeh, Executive Vice-President of MCN Media. “Ziad’s appointment is tangible proof of UM’s continual quest for excellence and he will be a valued member of the UM team.”

Fashion Forward Season 2

Founder and CEO of Fashion Forward (FFWD), Bong Guerrero, takes time out to fill us in on what we can expect from FFWD season two…

For anyone who missed out on FFWD season one, can you offer a brief overview to what the event is about?

FFWD is a platform for emerging and established designers from, or based in, the Middle East. The event comprises of catwalk presentations from the finest couture and ready-to-wear designers from around the region over four days. We had an incredibly successful inaugural season in April of this year where we showcased 18 catwalk presentations from 21 designers, and held talks and panel discussions with some of the most important and influential designers, editors and buyers from this region. We also had the pleasure of hosting Steven Kolb, CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, for his first trip to the Middle East. He was our keynote speaker, addressing our guests and designers on the benefits of a trade body to regulate and nurture the fashion industry, just as the CFDA does in America.

Season Two runs from October 15-18th and is an official event for Eid In Dubai, so we encourage all who missed out in April, and of course all of those who did join us, to return this Eid Al Adha to help celebrate and support our regional designers.

How was FFWD conceptualised? 

We believe that, considering the talent available, this region hasn’t had the recognition it deserves on the global fashion stage. We spent a lot of time to considering the best and most sustainable way to change this, so FFWD had been a few years in the making. We felt that April this year was the right time to launch, as all the ‘ingredients’ for success were just right. This has been further highlighted in recent months with the announcement of the Dubai Design District (d3) who are strongly supporting Fashion Forward with the ‘d3 Fashion Talks’.

The event is very much regionally focused with designers from Lebanon, Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the wider UAE – whilst also having an international outlook, attracting members of the global fashion community here to Dubai to see what we have to offer.

Large scale fashion events have been largely unsuccessful to date in the UAE. Why do you think that is?

It is not for me to comment on past events. What we wanted to ensure when launching FFWD was that the timing was right and judging from the success of season one and the phenomenal interest from buyers, designers and media for season two and beyond, we hope that we have found the correct formula for FFWD.

What elements have you incorporated into FFWD to ensure the event stays popular season in, season out?

First and foremost we choose the right mix of designers. We want to represent the region effectively, but we also need to make sure we choose designers who are ready to participate and show a full collection twice a year every year. We have various criteria for our designers to meet, but of course we always start with talent. We aim to make stars of our designers here in the region, by giving them a unifying platform. From there, we will have a strong and sustainable base as our industry grows, and we can make the Middle East a credible destination for the international community to consider on their calendar each season.

But we are realistic in our plans and know that you can’t grow an industry overnight. So, with the correct foundations, and including a strong roster of industry discussions and talks to foster debate, we can grow and adapt every season, learning from the successes of the other fashion capitals, and ensure we are keeping our own regional identity.

What would you consider as your biggest achievement in FFWD season one?

There were so many successes to come from season one, notably attendance, with over 12,000 visitors enjoying the event. We also had over 300 press outlets attending and covering us from around the world across various media. Also in attendance were over 40 regional buyers, representing some of the most successful stores across the GCC, this translated directly to our designers receiving substantial orders and considerably boosted their commercial success.

This invaluable international and regional exposure also means over 85 per cent of season one designers are returning to show at season two.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what is new and exciting for season two?

New for this season, and building on our series of talks in the inaugural season, we have the d3 Fashion talks – supported by Dubai Design District. Fostering discussion and nurturing the growing regional fashion industry is an integral part of FFWD’s vision and so as part of the d3 Fashion Talks, influential industry leaders will speak on a range of topics throughout the event.

Also new is The Garden – a dedicated space for regional accessories designers to showcase their jewellery, handbag, t-shirt and homeware collections to guests and buyers throughout the event. We had a hugely successful pop-up store in season one, and so from that we have expanded greatly to accommodate over 50 designers who will set up booths in The Garden where people can shop for unique pieces of Middle Eastern design.

How can brands get involved in FFWD?

For designers looking to get involved, please visit our website www.fashionforward.ae. All the information on the event itself and season two is there plus our contact details and we would love to hear from regional designers who are interested in FFWD.

Who can attend FFWD?

Fashion forward is predominantly a trade event, and we want to encourage the regional fashion community to join us in supporting and celebrating our regional talent. Our catwalk presentations are reserved for industry professionals but we encourage all interested in the event to register for tickets at www.fashionforward.ae. With the d3 Fashion Talks, The Garden and our hugely popular Fashion Gallery and Fashion Cafes, there is plenty for all guests to enjoy throughout the four days.

What are your plans for the future?

We want to grow steadily each season, learning and adapting as we go, in keeping with our designers and the regional landscape. So immediately we are concentrating on making season two a great success and then before we know it season three will be upon us!

To Thai for

With no time for weekends, let alone holidays, Team TMN were in danger of burning out fast. So when invited to experience a little Thai hospitality at the all-new Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi, we could hardly refuse. Boasting state-of-the-art business facilities, this five-star haven seemed the perfect solution to our problems… relaxation, while keeping our laptops within arm’s reach.

What: Dusit Thani, Abu Dhabi

Where: Muroor Street, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

When: Officially launched on September 16, 2013

The promise: “A hotel mixing Thai influences and modern lifestyle accouterments, beautifully designed for savvy business travellers.”

Did it deliver: A simple 60-minute drive from TMN HQ lead us directly to the imposing 40-story Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi. Sleek, chic and brimming with class, from the moment we stepped inside the impressive hotel lobby we knew this weekend away was just what the doctor ordered. The vast reception had a pleasantly calming vibe, and we couldn’t help but stare in awe of the impressive 37-floor atrium – which, we were told, is the third highest in the world. A swift and efficient check-in saw no time wasted loitering in the lobby. We were escorted to our rooms laden with luxuries including floor-to-ceiling windows, a substantial bathtub – uniquely positioned for TV viewing – and surround sound in the over-sized ensuite. Solid-wood workstations and complimentary WiFi provided the perfect finishing touches to ensure our team trip was as much productive as it was pleasurable.

Feeling deprived of vitamin D, Team TMN dived straight out to catch some sun at the relaxing rooftop pool, where we wiled away much of our day. After a pit stop to relax in the Jacuzzi and steam room we parted ways to prepare for dinner in the signature restaurant – Benjarong.

Having worked up quite the appetite from our strenuous afternoon of relaxing, the chef’s four-course taster menu of traditional Thai cuisine couldn’t have been any more tempting. Starting with the spicy tom yum soup and a delectable platter including fish cakes with sweet chili sauce, papaya salad and tofu veggie cups it wasn’t long before we were loosening our restrictive attire to allow for the main course to arrive. While the Thai green chili with rice and the Pad Thai were standout favorites for mains the coconut ice cream with rich fried banana couldn’t be resisted for dessert. After a post-dinner wander to try and walk off our expanding waistlines, Team TMN parted ways to sleep off our thoroughly satisfying food comas.

As morning arrived, little could have coaxed us out of our oh-so-comfy beds – except a delicious buffet breakfast followed by the promise of an authentic Thai massage. The serene sanctuary of Namm Spa with its white airy decor, offered the perfect end to a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Our work-torn bodies emerged stretched, relaxed & ready to face a new week.

The Verdict: Centrally located next to the Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium, the Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi provides the perfect business trip base, while managing to stay equally appealing for a relaxing staycation. Team TMN escaped the hustle and bustle of Dubai, returning two days later as better version of ourselves – rejuvenated, refreshed and raring to get back to work.

Hype Editor, Lesley Wright

Name: Lesley Wright

Age: Old enough to know better

From: Glasgow via London

Current job title: Editor, Hype Magazine

When did you arrive in the UAE? Friday, September 13, 2013

Where did you work prior? I was self-employed as a Marketing & PR consultant, but previous to that I spent nine years as the Editor of DJ Magazine, based in London, which is considered by many as the leading club culture and DJ magazine in the world.

Had you been to Dubai before accepting your new role? No, it’s my first time in the city. I landed here just three weeks after accepting the job so it was a pretty quick – and hectic – turnaround.

What are your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East? Vibrant, healthy and forward thinking with room for continued growth. It’s a far cry to the state of play back in the UK.

Tell us about your new role… To hit the ground running with Motivate Publishing’s new weekly music and nightlife title, Hype. The magazine is free every Wednesday and we’re currently publishing 20,000 copies each week. You’ll also find Hype in the seat pocket on Emirates flights.

What challenges are you facing? None at work, really. Everyone that I’ve spoken to on the club scene has been very helpful and is delighted that Dubai and the UAE will have a music and clubbing magazine they can call their own. Away from work, I’d say training for the London Marathon in this heat might prove challenging. I’m used to running in sleet and snow during the winter.

How do you plan to make your mark? By creating a magazine with substance that’s engaging for the reader and enticing for advertisers. Overall, creating a magazine that local artists and DJs are proud to be featured in.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? The music. It takes the stress out of everything.

What’s the most exciting thing to happen so far? That will be this coming weekend with Stanton Warriors and Bicep playing for Audio Tonic, at 360°, and James Zabiela playing for Plus Minus Sessions, at Nasimi Beach. It’s going to be epic.

How do you find the PRs in the region? I’m still getting to know who’s who and what’s what on that front, but I have to say that a few have already gone that extra mile for Hype.

What’s your pet PR peeve? Receiving press releases that leave off vital information. It’s happened twice in the past week.

What advice can you offer PRs seeking coverage in your magazine? Get in touch nice and early so that coverage can be properly planned and thought-out. Trust me, it’s a win-win situation.

Work calls via landline, mobile or both? I’m always on the go, so my mobile is best, although it may take a few more days to get the line connected.

Describe yourself in five words… Always seeking the next challenge.

What’s your most overused saying? Do you know what I mean?

Five things you can’t live without? Music. That’s about it, really.

If you weren’t a journalist, what would you be? On a stage somewhere, acting maybe.


Email Lesley at Lesley@motivate.ae or drop her a call on +971 (0)4 427 3062 / +971 (0)52 737 0711

Has Facebook had its day?

In August this year, 13-year-old New Yorker Ruby Karp posted a blog on Mashable, with the title: “I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook”. Just under two months and 52,000 shares later, media industry experts have been forced to consider the notion that without teens, Facebook’s future is limited. Teens aside, there are even more pressing questions for business users to consider when targeting the consumer (or business) markets. With the ever-increasing presence of unsolicited advertising, the universally unpopular timeline ‘upgrade’, privacy concerns and now paid messaging, the question we ask is this: Has Facebook had its day?

“YES” says
Joe Akkawi, Managing Partner at Paz Marketing

JoeAkkawismall“While I’m not advocating that people walk away from Facebook, it’s quite evident they no longer reign supreme on the social media front”

There’s no denying that Facebook continues to grow despite the numerous challenges and issues it has faced. Can we comfortably say though that Facebook remains the behemoth it was one or two years ago? Recent numbers and studies show other social networking platforms overtaking Facebook in a multitude of areas, primarily user acquisition and business growth. Kuwait as a prime example has shown that Instagram is now the preferred platform of choice for businesses to grow and sell their products – all the way from high-end products to selling Sheep for Eid (http://instagram.com/sheeps_sell).

Facebook’s move to monetise Instagram also demonstrates the heat that the platform is facing in terms of generating solid revenue from its own channels. It is also a clear indicator that they are looking for other business streams.

Facebook has come under major scrutiny surrounding its privacy concerns, affecting work productivity and the psychological effect on its users. A recent study from the University of Michigan found that the use of Facebook leads to declines in moment-to-moment happiness and overall life satisfaction in college-aged adults. Additionally, small businesses can easily become disheartened when comparing themselves to global brands running campaigns at a level that takes a tremendous amount of strategy, resources (both internal and external) and expertise. Platforms like Instagram can alleviate such issues.

On a purely business front, a 2012 Forrester study analysed 77,000 online transactions over a two-week period and found that less than 1 per cent of transactions could be traced to social media compared with 40 per cent from organic or paid search (which Google dominates). It also highlights the fact that the number of U.S. retailers with Facebook-enabled checkouts plummeted from 63 per cent in Q4 2011 to just 6 per cent in Q4 2012. That’s a 57 per cent drop in transactions.

While I’m not advocating that people walk away from Facebook, it’s quite evident they no longer reign supreme on the social media front. Other platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ have proved resilient and are showing tremendous growth coupled with solid numbers on customer acquisition. Just because some businesses are successful on Facebook, it doesn’t mean it’s the only – and correct – channel for you.

Contact Joe Akkawi at joe.akkawi@pazmarketing.com or follow him @joeakkawi


“NO” says Tahani Karrar-Lewsley, CEO & Executive Editor at Menar Media

tahaniksmall“Facebook now connects more than 1.15 billion people each month, and they are already thinking about connecting the next five billion”

Facebook has become an indispensable part of our lives. Those who suggest the world’s largest social networking site has had its day, just need to look at the numbers. Yes, inevitably some people close their accounts, but many more people join. Often those who leave sooner or later realise how disconnected they have become and quickly return.

Just six months ago the latest industry statistics showed Facebook took lead position compared to YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and others with just under one billion people signed on. The latest figures put total Facebook users at 1.15 billion, up 15 per cent – or 150 million users – in just six months. This is a clear sign that this social network is not dead and indicates it is on a rapid growth phase.

For almost ten years, Facebook has been on a mission to make the world more open and connected. This mission was reiterated by Mark Zuckerberg himself in August, when he announced Facebook now connects more than 1.15 billion people each month, and they are already thinking about connecting the next five billion. This is despite the vast majority of these remaining people in the world not even having access to the Internet.

Today, only 2.7 billion people are online – a little more than one third of the world. This figure is growing by less than 9 per cent each year – a remarkably slow growth spurt considering how early we are in the Internet’s development. Even though projections show most people will get smartphones in the next decade, most people still won’t have data access because the cost of data remains extremely high.

But that can be bypassed as industry players make Internet access more affordable by making data delivery more efficient and helping businesses boost Internet access by developing a new model to get people online.

Another vote of confidence is Facebook’s increased development in mobile platforms, adding better functionality, apps and ads. This is particularly important for the Middle East, as recent Google research has ranked the UAE number one in global smartphone penetration, at 73.8 per cent.

Contact Tahani Karrar-Lewsley at info@menarmedia.com or follow her @menarmedia

Bloomberg Businessweek launches today

After much anticipation, the English language edition of Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East hits the newsstands today. The fortnightly publication – which is a regional edition of the popular US publication – aims to provide insightful news and analysis critical to regional business leaders, exploring everything from global economics, technology and finance to travel, fashion and lifestyle pursuits.

“We’re aiming to set a new benchmark for business publications in the Middle East with the launch of Businessweek,” says Aaron Greenwood, Managing Editor, Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East. “We’ve worked hard to combine the cutting edge look and feel of the US edition with a very strong focus on local issues. About 80 per cent of our content is produced locally, so it really is a unique proposition. Our expectations are very high for the magazine. Hopefully, readers will embrace it as a truly regional publication.”