Name: Sarah Freeman
Current Job Title: Art Editor/Photojournalist, Destination of the World News
When did you first arrive in Dubai?
I first arrived in Dubai in October 2008, having previously worked on magazines in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK.
Where did you work prior?
Before joining Destination of the World News I was at ITP Publishing for four years, working across various titles – I was Art Director for Good Housekeeping magazine, VIVA and Emirates Home.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Compared to the likes of London and New York, the media industry in the UAE seems very small; but this is a real advantage when you first move here as it’s less daunting and easier to establish connections and forge relationships.
Has your opinion changed much?
I’ve had a career break of 15 months, most of which I spent travelling in Central and South America, so I have only returned to Dubai recently. It’s still very much an evolving industry, which is both exciting and frustrating at times. As a lover of all things print, I am very happy this area is still very much thriving and growing in this part of the world.
Tell us about your role at Destination of the World News …
My job at DOTWN is very much a hybrid role. I’m taking charge of the creative direction of the brand, its various extensions and writing for the magazine, but principally introducing a photojournalist element to the magazine, which has been missing. The idea is to develop more original photography and I will be responsible for executing photo essay stories, mainly abroad, but also locally in the UAE.
What challenges do you face?
One of the key challenges is finding newly emerging luxury destinations, which is harder than it sounds. Also marrying global travel trends with the travel habits of people living in the GCC. The challenge I have as a photographer is to continually strive to capture, in some cases, a new and original interpretation of a familiar destination, such as the Maldives, and to marry the aesthetics of a luxury destination with story-telling, in one photo essay.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s early days, so you may have to ask me that in six months time! But right now, what’s exciting is to have the creative freedom to take and develop an already established brand, using my travel photography experience to elevate and enhance the product.
What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
I think it’s hugely varied. I would like to see more local content and less syndicated material in some of the international brands here. There are some really inspirational homegrown publications, which are pushing boundaries and delivering very original, engaging content.
How do you find PRs in the region?
Much like the previous answer, I find PRs in the region to be a real mixed bag. Some have a wealth of experience and are very on the ball, others seem to be inexperienced and a bit out of their depth.
What’s your pet PR peeve?
A PR that calls you if you haven’t responded to their email within about an hour!
What advice can you offer PRs seeking coverage your magazine?
Understand our product and our distribution channels. We are very much ‘ultra-luxury’ focused, so our market is niche. Our magazine is found in first/business class lounges and 5* hotels. We are very much active on all platforms – online/social media, as well as our print publication. So the idea is for content to be utilised across multiple channels.
Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
Describe yourself in five words…
Creative, energetic, loyal, determined and intuitive.
What’s your most overused saying?
“Shy bairns get nowt.” It’s a saying that originates from the North East of England, where I was born. It more or less translates as “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Five things you can’t live without?
Tea, a firm mattress, camera, hand cream and hiking boots.
If you weren’t a journalist, what would you be?
A conservationist. I’m passionate about the environment, love the great outdoors and almost went down the science route, but ended up following my calling to the arts (which I’m very happy about)!