New Op-Ed Columnist joins Arab News

Saudi Arabian daily newspaper, Arab News has welcomed Yasar Yakis to the role of Op-Ed Columnist. Previously Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Yasar is recognised as a founding member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party and most recently worked at Oxford University as Senior Associate Member. In his new role, he will write a weekly column on Turkish, Arab, regional and international affairs that will be featured on Arab News’s print and online editions.

“Yakis joins the newspaper’s growing pool of influential columnists,” says Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief, Arab News. “Mr Yakis brings a broad global knowledge, many years of experience as Turkey’s chief diplomat, as well as a deep understanding of Arab affairs. We are thrilled that he has joined our pool of expert opinion writers.”

New PR Manager at Fairmont the Palm

Dubai-based five-star resort, Fairmont the Palm has appointed Jenna Saunders to the role of PR Manager. With over six years of experience, Jenna previously worked with Jumeirah Zabeel Saray as Communications Executive and most recently with TOH PR as PR Account Manager. In her new role, she will manage all PR activities and work across Fairmont’s portfolio of F&B, lifestyle and luxury clients.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Fairmont The Palm,” says Jenna. “I look forward to working with the team and contributing towards making this yet another outstanding year for Fairmont The Palm across the region.”

Sept PR welcomes new Account Manager

Dubai-based lifestyle and communications agency, Sept PR has appointed Karima Karmouzi to the role of Account Manager. With over ten years of experience in marketing and PR, Karima previously worked as Marketing and PR Manager in the UK, Morocco and Oman. In her new role, she will focus on developing strong PR and communications strategies across GCC networks and secure top tier Arab media opportunities for client campaigns.

“Sept PR has an outstanding reputation in the market and looks after an exciting portfolio of clients,” says Karima. “We’re seeing a shift in the PR landscape which incorporates a consolidated digital element to campaigns so it’s exciting to be a part of an agency that recognises this and drives this forward.”

ARN launches new Arabic radio stations

Dubai-based radio network, Arabian Radio Network (ARN) launches Al Khaleejiya Classic and Al Arabiya Cassette in the UAE. With a focus on serving its Arabic audience, Al Khaleejiya Classic will play 80’s and 90’s GCC music tracks, while Al Arabiya Cassette will broadcast 60’s to 90’s Arabic hits from across the region for local and expat Arabs. The new digital-only radio stations will also be available as an extension of local radio stations, Al Khaleejiya 100.9 and Al Arabiya 99 mobile apps to its audience across the UAE.

“ARN serves a wide audience of over 190 nationalities, in the world’s most cosmopolitan city, Dubai,” says Mahmoud Al Rasheed, General Manager, ARN. “This launch follows our first phase of digital brands launched last year and we are proud to launch these two digital stations to meet audience and advertiser demand and position ARN for further growth in the digital broadcasting industry in the coming years.”

Caterer Middle East welcomes new Editor

ITP Media Group has promoted Claudia de Brito to the role of Editor of F&B management title, Caterer Middle East. Previously Group Deputy Editor of Etihad Airways’ inflight magazine, Claudia will now oversee and generate editorial content for the monthly publication as well as contribute to the publishing house’s dedicated hospitality industry web portal,

In all honesty…

Tanaz Dizadji, Founder and CEO of insydo talks to TMN about biased content and how ‘undercover’ reviews make for honest opinions…

“Press releases are like the tip of an iceberg and honest opinions come from exploring beneath the surface of every business.”

People are savvy and know the difference between impartial content and everything else out there and this was the main reason I decided to launch an authentic digital guide for residents and tourists of the city. To accomplish this, we felt we needed to spend a year in ‘stealth mode’ before officially launching, testing numerous businesses undercover, completely off the marketing community’s radar.

Undercover reviews across several categories result in a trust-worthy opinion on Dubai’s top businesses and services. I believe Dubai is craving honest and independent content and to produce completely impartial and unbiased content, freebies are an absolute no-no. This will ensure that the reviewer does not get influenced by any external factors and voices his/her true opinion on the product or service experienced. Working incognito to assess every featured business – whether that is a dining spot or the services of a painter, allows for authentic opinions based on the same treatment that any regular customer would receive and this is an aspect that should never be compromised, no matter what.

People respond strongly to unbiased recommendations because they trust them. Giving readers and users an all-round holistic review that highlights the good and bad aspects of an experience as well as tips on how to get the most out of a each business, allows them to filter their search and identify a place, product or service that best suits their needs.

Another key factor for fair reviews, particularly when your scope includes different categories of businesses, is to ensure that each one is judged in comparison with other contenders in the same field and supported by relevant KPIs (key performance indicators). After all, you can’t compare a food truck to a fine-dining restaurant. By determining the right KPIs for each category, the reviewer is able to assess every business in a fair manner and benchmark it against the competition.

Testing out every business is a vigorous process that requires time and attention to detail, so it is challenging, especially if one does not rely on press releases for reviews. Press releases are like the tip of an iceberg and honest opinions come from exploring beneath the surface of every business.

A question that I get asked the most is, “How do you decide what to include amongst the city’s best?” In a city as dynamic and diverse as Dubai, sifting through a mountain of choice is no easy task. It is physically impossible to list every business or service in the city – we’ve only got emoji-heart-eyes for the top contenders. Impressions matter most when shortlisting businesses and services for an anonymous first-hand review. It is essential to always stay informed – whether through traditional media, word-of-mouth recommendations, social listening, search volume data and most importantly, consumer feedback, comments and rating. Many of the city’s favourites tend to fly under the radar, in spite of high quality standards and a fiercely loyal customer base. Dubai is an ever-changing city with people that are strongly influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations, which should play a key role in how you explore.

So, how does a business make the cut? Hunting down the top contenders in every field, without the influence of marketers, brand managers and PRs, requires a lot of filtering. While I am open to PRs and marketers pitching their businesses and clients for reviews, I don’t guarantee acceptance to every business. There should be a vetting process and only businesses that make the cut are tested out incognito. Even in cases where featured businesses wish to secure more exposure through our platform, the original review is never tampered with. Once a business has been selected, anonymously tested and featured, brands are allowed to add digital content to their existing page. This feature gives brands the opportunity to market themselves without influencing the authenticity of the review.

I believe in giving the residents of Dubai a complete picture of what to expect and a true reflection of what people love most about the city, and I think the best way to do that is to put an end to freebies and half-honest opinions.

D-Connector makes new appointment

Dubai-based media company, D-Connector has appointed Priya Mehta to the role of Media Account Manager. With over 17 years of experience in sales, advertising and media, Priya previously worked with SAGA Digital as Marketing Manager and most recently with Trinity Media as Sales and Marketing Manager. In her new role, she will manage all sales for all outdoor media advertising for D-Connector across the UAE.

“Having worked in the media industry for more than 17 years, I believe my new company, D-Connector is unique and is my stepping stone for a successful career,” says Priya. “I sturdily believe D-Connector is all set to transform the era of advertising which I have never seen or experienced in the past.”

New Senior Correspondent at Khaleej Times

UAE-based newspaper, Khaleej Times has appointed Sarwat Nasir to the role of Senior Correspondent. With over four years of experience in journalism, Sarwat previously worked with 7DAYS as News Reporter where she produced videos and reported to the news desk with a focus on human interest, education and general stories. In her new role, she will report to the news desk with breaking and exclusive stories as well as produce videos with a focus on different topics for Khaleej Times.

“I am very excited to work with Khaleej Times and bring in breaking stories, as well as produce digital content,” says Sarwat.