Should dress codes be strictly enforced?

After the heelgate debacle at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, we ask, is it appropriate for event planners to turn away guests due to them not strictly adhering to a specified dress code?

“NO” says Mehdi Mabrouk, Journalist, Mediaquest Corp

MedhiMabrook“Nobody should have the right to dictate what you should wear, even if it’s just for one night”

Certain dress codes are quite restrictive and unpractical, from heels to colours or even the entire theme of an event. As an event planner or even a host, you want people to attend your function, have fun and talk about it. So turning away guests if they do not follow a set dress code is a risky business. Unless they are explained item-by-item, in social functions, dress codes can be vague and interpreted differently by each person, depending on their background and sense of style. For example, summer chic can mean one thing to one person, and something completely different to someone else.

Dress standards are also different for men and women. At a formal or gala event, men are expected to wear a suit or tuxedo and the only difference between male guests are the colours of their ties and the style of their cufflinks. Women, on the other hand, are told that they can go with the traditional little black dress and a pair of stylish ballerinas; but in reality, they are expected to rock their best gown with their highest pair of Louboutins, and to be honest, this is just not fair. In the end, everyone should be able to enjoy an event without constantly thinking about how they look and how the rest of the guests, or the organisers to be more precise, perceive them.

But there are many other factors to why a dress code can sometimes be a bad idea. As a journalist, I get invited to a lot of events after working hours and I do not always have the time to change beforehand. In my opinion, hosting an event at 7pm is not a smart idea when people tend to finish work around 6pm. Traffic jams, fatigue and strict dress codes are only a few of the reasons why people tend to bail on certain events that take place at this hour. As a host, you want your guests to come as they are and express their identity through their style. But dress codes are about uniformity, which can alienate certain people because they feel like they do not fit into the glamorous image our society is enforcing. Not everyone is a model and not everyone looks good in a three-piece suit.

Style is about being able to express yourself through clothes and accessories; it is about showing your uniqueness and standing out. Nobody should have the right to dictate what you should wear, even if it’s just for one night.

Allowing everyone to wear comfortable and appropriate clothes is something event planners should seriously think about, because after all, the more creative the outfits, the more publicity the event will get. 

“YES” says Ellie Rebecca Keene, PR & Communications Manager, Pragma

EllieKeene“The dress code is put in place for a reason and that reason should be respected”

Working in the nightlife industry, I can see both sides of this argument. But let’s take one issue out of the equation before I explain why I agree – there has to be some leeway if someone genuinely can’t comply with the rules – if they had a medical condition, for example. Obviously door staff need to have a certain amount of flexibility rather than just seeing things in black and white, and dress codes need to offer a certain level of practicality so that they don’t alienate our audience – we don’t want to annoy our guests before they’ve even left the queue at the door. There were some older ladies involved in ‘Heel- gate’ in Cannes this year who were wearing fashionable flat shoes, this is acceptable in my opinion – turning up in Havaianas, however, is not!

Generally speaking, the dress code is put in place for a reason and that reason should be respected. The purpose of a dress code is to set a venue or event up with a general feel or theme. An event organiser has decided this for a purpose, whether it is to keep the event formal or have a themed night, such as Ahlan’s recent White Party, for example. It’s important for guests to feel comfortable of course, but going to a formal event and standing with someone in flip flops and a pair of shorts would make me feel uncomfortable for them.

No matter what the venue – a club, a restaurant, a boat – it’s just an empty shell with some pretty lights and fashionable décor. It’s the guests who provide the ambiance – so if they turn up less than engaged with what you’re trying to achieve, it has a knock on effect on the night as a whole. As organisers we put a huge amount of effort into every last detail, not to mention a large amount of money into great quality hospitality for our guests. If you do RSVP, it’s surely a sign of respect to abide by the rules.

Why PR matters to entrepreneurs

Catherine Granger, Dubai-based entrepreneur and owner of Trajan Consulting, LKJ International (a luxury brands marketing agency) and the newly launched So Soulier shoe label, offers her thoughts on why PR is paramount to Entrepreneurs…

“I have started using a PR firm to market everything I do in business and this is translating into an increased bottom line”

Remember the time when you owned a company, found some paying customers, sold your product and then continued quietly on your way? Yes? Well those days are gone – long gone!

As someone who owns several businesses, I have watched over recent years as the importance of good public relations – whatever your brand – has soared. Not only does your name and logo have to be instantly recognisable, you have to be part of the zeitgeist, you need to be included in the conversation – and you need to be visible on a mind-boggling array of platforms.

I have started using a PR firm to market everything I do in business and this is translating into an increased bottom line. For example, I have designed and launched a shoe label, So Soulier, and it is not enough to find some nice shops willing to sell them – I know that people need to see them and talk about them on Twitter, on Facebook, in magazines and so on. Social media and savvier consumers have created a weird business world where commerce has merged with entertainment. And those who don’t embrace this fact will get left behind.

A common complaint I hear in Dubai is that PR companies charge the earth and often don’t deliver, and for a small enterprise that can be a real worry. My response to this is: do your research and shop around. You also have to understand what good PR actually feels like, looks like and sounds like. Business owners need to educate themselves about this brave new world and not just stick their heads in a spreadsheet and hope this horrible promotional stuff will go away, because it won’t. Besides, public relations can be fun if you do it right, and your audience will respond to that enjoyment.

One more thing I will say is that my appreciation of a well put-together press release has certainly grown. I am much more aware of a bore-you-to-death one too – in fact, I scrutinise what other companies are doing on this front and it’s quite revealing.

This is a 360-degree view, reality meets entertainment, everyone’s a media persona era – and there is no going back. Good old Oscar Wilde didn’t know how right he was going to be when he said: “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” In my opinion, this pretty much sums up today’s business landscape.

Mighty Mughlai

In the mood for some extravagant North Indian cuisine? Team TMN has found just the place…

What: Amala tasting menu

Where: Amala, Zabeel Saray, Dubai 

When: Every night from 6pm to 1am

The promise: “Every evening Amala serves an exceptional a la carte menu where guests can choose from an abundant array of indulgent dishes freshly prepared from an open style kitchen.”

Did it deliver? There are few entrances more grandiose than that of the Zabeel Saray – the opulent hotel oozes high-octane glamour from every fibre in its structure. In Amala – luxurious space dedicated to cuisine from North India – the chandeliers and intricately tiled floor offer a more subtle nod to the glamour, creating an atmosphere that is altogether more relaxed. Soft lighting adds to the ambience, making the cavernous space seem less imposing and, somehow, warm.

Once we were shown our seats, Team TMN were immediately immersed in Amala’s main event – the food. Hailing from the North of India, Mughlai food is influenced by flavours from Persia and Turkey, and is notoriously rich and creamy, often incorporating exotic spices and dried fruit. As the concept of the set-price menu was explained to us, we were asked if we would like to select the dishes we sampled, or leave this in the capable hands of Amala’s head chef. Opting to try the chef’s selection of food, we tucked in. The selection of starters we were presented with were delectable introductions to the cuisine – salads were refreshing and crisp, and smaller hot places were tasty and well-spiced. The tandoori that followed was even better, with meat cooked until tender and full of flavor – the lamb chops were a definite winner with us, with meat so beautifully cooked that it fell from the bone.

Following the selection from the tandoor grill, we were presented with three types of bread to accompany the curry dishes. The naans were soft and pillowy, proving an exceptional accompaniment to the standout dish on Amala’s menu; butter chicken. Amala’s version is rich without being overwhelming, well spiced and completely delicious. Other curries – notably the Goan prawn curry and the jalfrazi, – were also fabulously flavourful and incredibly moreish.

By the time we were presented with a small selection of deserts, even the most sweet-toothed of Team TMN found it difficult to find the room to properly sample them following such generous mains.

The Verdict; Amala is the perfect restaurant for someone who loves Indian cuisine and is looking to sample a variety of dishes. The restaurant’s grand yet casual feel makes it a relaxing venue and the value for money the menu represents is exceptional. For AED 325, the selection of dishes and quality of ingredients is hard to beat. The sharing style in which food is brought to the table makes it the kind of menu perfect for a large group yet it is equally welcoming for a romantic meal.

Emma Procter, Co-founder, Blowfish Media

Name: Emma Procter

Age: 39

From: UK

Current job title: Co-Founder, Blowfish Media

When did you arrive in the UAE? At the end of 2008 just as the property market here crashed. I refuse to be blamed for this though.

Where did you work prior?
For several years I was a freelance journalist and marketing professional in London, mainly working with health and fitness publications. Before that I worked at the Messenger local newspaper in Manchester, part of Newsquest Group.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Chaotic, but full of potential. Coming from such an established media scene in England, I was amazed at all these brand new magazines, newspapers and radio stations popping up overnight. There was a feeling of too much too fast with bonkers publications covering everything from dentistry to sewage works, but there was money to be made and it was kind of fun. There was an overall lack of quality journalism though, but it seemed not to matter.

Have these impressions changed much?
Yes, the industry has matured as the country has gone through a few growing pains and I think media firms have had to adapt to a more discerning audience. The only thing that surprises me is still just how bad some journalism here can be, but that might take more time. Online media is showing some encouraging signs, but I’d like to see more quirky, independent sites.

Tell us about your new company Blowfish Media…
I decided to launch a full service media agency with a very talented German photographer Sebastian Tontsch because we kept hearing complaints from businesses about a lack of professionalism in copywriting, photography and public relations. It is actually quite surprising what a skill shortage there is in these areas in the UAE. So we brought together some top class people from a range of disciplines – including graphic design and translation – and we are trying to raise the bar.

What challenges do you face?
Trying to educate some clients about the value of doing things in the right way and, of course, dealing with the ups and downs of starting a new enterprise. You have to learn things as you go and focus on the bigger picture.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
That fantastic moment when a client realises you really do care about their product or brand and when they see the results, whether it’s a campaign or just a photoshoot, and are blown away. We have had some very nice emails.

What’s the most exciting thing to happen so far?
Some of our photos have gone viral in the fine art photography scene and have been nominated for awards. Plus, one of our public relations clients is now being considered for her very own BBC documentary because of our promotional work – I can’t say who yet, though.

What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
Right now it’s a mixed bag. Newspapers like 7Days for me are doing it right in terms of tone, content and pushing the boundaries a little. Some of the well-established titles have become editorially lazy in my opinion and I’d like to see them being given a run for their money. I never buy glossy magazines here, which I guess says a lot. Although I’m a sucker for OK! Middle East.

What sets you apart from other media professionals?
I’m a writer first and a media person second. I agonise over the quality of written English in everything we do because nothing destroys a brand more than sloppy language – and I have seen some mind blowing mistakes on huge projects here. And when I think about the budgets they must have had…

Work calls via landline, mobile or both? Both. We are a wonderfully approachable unless you’re selling credit cards. 

What’s your most overused saying?  “You create your own reality” – it’s true though. 

Five things you can’t live without? My dogs, my phone, my friends, my books, and Jamie Oliver’s recipe website.

If you weren’t with Blowfish Media, what would you be doing? Living on a Greek island in an old, whitewashed villa writing my masterpiece and tending to my dogs, chickens and vegetable garden.


Team TMN sit down with Andrew Burgess, Middle East Director, TINT to find out more about the global technology platform, following its successful Middle East launch…

Tell us a bit about TINT…?
TINT is a global technology platform that collects, moderates and curates social content from across the world and displays it anywhere. Using TINT, organisations can harness and filter the wealth of user-generated content created about their brand and category every day and display it across websites, mobile apps, digital advertising, TV, digital billboards and jumbotrons.

Where did the concept for TINT originate?
TINT started as a “calculated” accident. Our team previously worked on a product similar to TINT, but in the consumer space, and it failed. Why? We didn’t listen to our users’ real problems, blinded by the dream to hit “virility” and gain fame.

We have flipped that mentality 180 degrees, now focusing on listening to our customers, solving real problems, and improving our platform constantly. We are on your Team.

What makes TINT technology unique?
TINT is the fastest and most customisable social hub solution that empowers marketing teams to create brand experiences with no IT needed. We’re trusted by over 45,000 brands for a reason.

Who is TINT’s target audience?
Anyone!! Brand managers, hotels, agencies, eCommerce platforms, events/hospitality industry, publishers – you name it we could TINT it!!

Why did you bring TINT to the Middle East?
Dubai is the ideal gateway to help us establish a more customer-facing relationship with global clients we already have. Dubai’s ambition to develop as a smart city makes it the perfect environment to foster entrepreneurial and technology-inspired companies, like TINT, to grow.

What challenges did you face establishing TINT in Dubai?
We have not really faced much of a challenge – we haven’t just jumped in feet first and hoped for the best, we’ve forged strong relationships with key regional brands but during those initial steps we have listened to them every step of the way; TINT’s employees and customers depend on each other to grow to the next level.

How is TINT beneficial to brand owners in Dubai?
Use of social media, the creation of user-generated content and the power of word-of-mouth are all rapidly growing. TINT enables brands to harness and filter the wealth of content being created about their brand and category and display it anywhere. For marketers, TINT collects and filters social buzz about a brand and its category and helps organisations to amplify and display it in real-time, increasing audience engagement. This turns social content into a word-of-mouth marketing tool to reach new audiences, build brands and sell products and services.

What does the future hold for TINT?
The signage industry is super huge, currently we are forging strong partnerships with key stakeholders in this industry – imagine being able to merge dynamic content to any sign/screen in the world? This is why we have created TINTmix.

We understand that social media content is only a subset of a larger content strategy. Custom images, pre-recorded videos or live-streams, and other dynamic web content can be easily combined into one simple, engaging experience for audiences. What took long development time and timely back and forth conversations between multiple teams for small changes can now all be done with TINTmix.

Want to know more about TINT? Contact Andrew on or follow him on Twitter/Instagram @Glos365

Surena Chande joins BBC Good Food

BBC Good Food magazine, part of CPI Media Group, has welcomed Surena Chande to the role of Assistant Editor. Bringing over two years of experience in writing and editing to her new role, Surena will be responsible for planning and conceptualising content, writing, editing and proofing a range of articles as well as weekly newsletters and uploading website content.

“I’m thrilled to now be a part of the wonderful BBC Good Food team at CPI Media and look forward to the exciting upcoming challenges that this role will bring,” says Surena.

Ruth Bradley welcomes Elodie Le Bihan

Elodie Le Bihan has joined Ruth Bradley Consulting as an Account Manager. Having recently worked as PR Coordinator at Louis Vuitton, Elodie brings over three years of experience in PR and marketing to her new role. As Account Manager, she will be looking after Ruth Bradley Consulting clients such as Robert Wan, Hautletic and Baraboux.

“After working with Louis Vuitton in the Middle East and Paris, I now have the privilege to continue my journey with Ruth Bradley Consulting and join her on her quest for excellence,” says Elodie. “I’m very excited to be a part of this award-winning team and help grow the portfolio of clients.”

Ruth Bradley, Founder and Managing Director, Ruth Bradley Consulting, adds “2015/16 holds very exciting projects and acquisitions for Ruth Bradley Consulting, and I’m delighted to have Elodie on board to share in our journey. Her impressive pedigree will bring valuable insight and experience to the existing team, and help take our clients to the next level in their PR strategies regionally.”

ShortList welcomes Amany Saghir

ShortList UAE, an Arab Publishing Partners publication, has welcomed Amany Saghir to the role of Advertising Manager. Having previously worked as Advertising Manager at Cosmopolitan, Amany has over two years of experience in advertising as well as a Bachelor of Business Administration.

In her new role with ShortList UAE, Amany will be responsible for finding and selling creative solutions to clients both online and in print. She will also deal with ShortList’s international offices, as well as media agencies.


Alsayegh Media welcomes Michal Gasior

Emirati communications firm Alsayegh Media has welcomed Michal Gasior to the role of Digital Director. With over 12 years of international industry experience, Michal most recently worked as Digital Director at Agency 222 in Doha. In his new role with Alsayegh Media, he will lead key digital disciplines and offerings, driving digital strategies and recommending innovative approaches for the firm’s diverse client base.

“It’s a pleasure to be joining the Alsayegh Media team and such a talented, passionate group who strive to excel in everything they do,” says Michal. “I aim to hit the ground running and ensure we continue to raise the bar in producing creative, engaging and highly effective digital projects for our clients.”

Leila Almaeena, Managing Director, Alsayegh Media, adds “I am pleased to welcome Michal to our growing team. He brings with him a wealth of experience and his addition will not only strengthen a major area of our business – but meet the increased demand for innovative digital solutions.”