Fashion Weekend

Team TMN chat with Zahirah Variawa, Managing Director of Think Liquorice, to discuss this week’s Fashion Weekend event at Souk Madinat Jumeirah…

Tell us a bit about Fashion Weekend?
Fashion Weekend is a concept created by Souk Madinat Jumeirah to celebrate fashion in Dubai against the backdrop of the Souk and showcase what the venue has to offer.

Tell us about the concept behind Fashion Weekend
Souk Madinat Jumeirah has historically been viewed as a destination to visit by tourists or guests from out of town. By working with the management team we were looking for a way to change that perception and showcase the establishment’s many other offerings to not just tourists but with a focus on residents as well. Fashion Weekend is only one of the initiatives that will allow people to see the diverse range of shopping and dining available. We also hope to grow this concept each year alongside the retail spread of the Souk. Fashion Weekend, along with other projects planned for the upcoming months, will open up the Souk to residents through collaborations and events to allow Dubai’s community to rediscover what is on offer. 

What makes this event unique?
Unlike traditional fashion shows, Fashion Weekend takes place in the walkways of the Souk, as opposed to a catwalk. There will be interesting elements that bring the show to life and emphasise key components of the Souk Madinat Jumeirah brand.

Models will be interacting with the live entertainment and the guests as well. The show’s format is designed to make the clothing, as well as the event, a pop up feature during the day. Our focus is not to repeat the standard fashion show format, but rather offer a snapshot show that is fun, interactive and enjoyable without taking away from the other activities you may have planned at the Souk or in the city over the weekend.

How will Fashion Weekend be marketed differently from previous events at Souk Madinat Jumeirah?
The event marketing is focused primarily online. Thursday’s showing is aimed at press, bloggers and invited guests, but still open to the public. Souk Madinat Jumeirah receives great interaction globally across it’s social media pages and we wanted to use these events to build on that. Live feeds, video content and interactive posts before, during and after the event will be the key drivers. Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a lifestyle brand, and with that we want the events to be inclusive and enjoyable for all ages and nationalities.

It’s difficult to compare the marketing of Fashion Weekend to the marketing of previous events as it’s the first time the Souk brand is branching out and hosting events like this under it’s own banner. 

Do you think it’s more difficult marketing Souk Madinat Jumeirah to UAE residents than it is to tourists and, if so, how?
I don’t believe it’s more difficult, it is just different. Tourists generally go looking for iconic locations ­–  everything from the Arabesque architecture, style and traditional stores as well as the retail offerings within the souk. Residents are familiar with the Madinat but, given the many other choices available across the UAE market for shopping and dining, we need to work at reminding them of what’s on offer; and look to create unique experiences such as Fashion Weekend.

Can anyone attend Fashion Weekend?
Yes, it’s an informal ‘pop-up’ show in the walkway outside Costa.

How can media companies get involved in Fashion Weekend?
Easily! We love collaborating and are always open to ideas and partnerships to help build on this concept and others. To get involved, even in next week’s event, just drop the team an email at

Could you tell us more about who/what we can expect to see at Fashion Weekend?
Interactive runway shows with warm and friendly models working the walkways, live entertainment with a DJ and sax player as well as a free-to-attend fashion workshop with Kelly Lundberg talking about this season’s trends and how to travel smart while looking fabulous. 

Are you planning to make this an annual event?
Yes. We’re starting small and intend to build on the concept each year.

What can media visitors expect to gain from Fashion Weekend?
Fashion Weekend will allow media and influencers to rediscover the Souk through the medium of fashion. They will not only get a good overview of the retail offering on the models and the runway, but by traveling through the walkways of the food, fashion, gift and signature stores. Through exercises like these we want to open up the souk to the media and remind them that it still is one of the most beautiful shoot locations, event locations and able to offer a unique mix of culture, shopping, dining, entertaining and more. It’s one of the only theatres in the city and the entire team are keen to welcome the media to consider and utilise these spaces. Coupled with the showcase of fashion, it will make for a short and sweet but enjoyable Thursday afternoon out of the office! The media show takes place at 12pm on the Thursday, May 19. 

How do you think Fashion Weekend can/will be developed in the future?
As an agency we always strive to build on everything we do. A concept like Fashion Weekend has endless possibilities for growth, extending into and including the food and beverage sectors, as well as expanding the fashion workshop into an exhibition, panel discussion or series of events – the sky is really the limit. The concept is very malleable at this stage and as we work through the first few seasons I hope it will develop into a calendar highlight and take on a personality of its own.


Team TMN caught up with Nitin Reen, CEO and Co-Founder of Vaniday Middle East, to find out more about the newly launched online booking platform….

Tell us a bit about Vaniday?
The cornerstone of the Vaniday philosophy is that looking and feeling your best should be accessible to every person, at any given moment, wherever they are in the world. With Vaniday, customers are able to discover new services and professionals, book appointments and get inspired. Salons can showcase their work, connect with new and existing clients, and grow their business.

Where did the concept for Vaniday originate?
Although, it is one of the largest and most profitable industries in the world, the beauty & wellness sector is one of the few industries that has not yet fully transitioned from offline to online. It is so simple nowadays to book a plane ticket, or book a car service to your door online. We identified a gap in the market and thus, Vaniday was born.

What makes Vaniday unique as a service?
First of all, we have an unprecedented number of high-end, well-established venues on the site that feature exclusive offers to our users. We are available online via the website, as well as both an Android and an IPhone app, and our customer service team are highly-trained and ensure that booking and paying for services is both easy and convenient for salons and clients alike. Also, unlike salons and spas, which have strict opening hours, Vaniday is available 24/7, 365 days of the year.

How have you marketed Vaniday since its launch?

We have used a combination of offline and online marketing channels.  On the offline side, we have tried initiatives ranging from flyering and hosting events, to radio campaigns and billboards on Sheikh Zayed Road. On the online side, we have had a good amount of success through SEM and Facebook focusing on both the web and app fronts. It’s important to note that we don’t view any initiative in isolation and we try to tie everything in together – so if we have an offline initiative such as radio mentions or a competition, then we link it in to Facebook advertising to have a complimentary and symmetrical marketing offering.

How do you feel social media has helped your company grow?

Social media is important for any business, but of even greater importance for a company that exists in the digital world (such as ours) – and greater still for a company centered around the beauty industry. Social media is very useful to us in order to drive customer engagement – It helps us get to know our customers/supporters and allows them to get to know us. Through SoM, we can get an idea of who our customers are, what they appreciate and what they want.

Who is Vaniday’s target audience?
Anyone with a busy lifestyle who loves indulging in hair, beauty and spa treatments. More than a third of our users are males and most of our users are professionals who want to be able to book salon and spa visits quickly and conveniently, without worrying about where to go or what appointment is available.

Why did you decide to launch Vaniday in the UAE?
Given the hectic lifestyle in the UAE, we felt that many people needed a service that could save them time when they wanted to book a salon or spa visit. The Middle East in general, and the UAE specifically, is one of the fastest growing beauty markets in the world. This, along with the fact that the UAE has one of the highest smartphone penetrations in the world and a growing propensity to transact online, made the foray into the UAE market a very simple one.

How can businesses/PR companies get involved with Vaniday?
There are many ways in which external agencies can get involved. As a young but rapidly expanding company, we are open to fresh ideas and progressive thinking and we are always on the lookout for exciting collaborations! All people need to do is get in touch.

For any salon or spa that would like to be listed on Vaniday, its management can get in touch and we can negotiate how they can become salon partners.

Did you face any challenges in establishing the website in the UAE?
The main challenge at the beginning was hiring a great team. Our goal was to be lean which demanded the highest standards of efficiency and we were quite lucky in finding amazing talent. Every member of our team is a rockstar in his/her focus area. We wanted to bring people in who are truly passionate about our company and have strived to cultivate an environment where people feel that this is their company and they take pride in all of its achievements. We were fortunate to achieve this objective and today, everybody in our team lives and loves Vaniday.

What does the future hold for Vaniday?
We are currently experiencing very rapid growth. We have been active for less than a year and are already in numerous countries all around the globe. We are constantly working on expanding our existing markets as well as new ones. In regards to the Middle East, this trend also holds true. This is a region whose market behaviour is very conducive to our business model and we are planning to capitalize on this to the benefit of our current and potential customers.

MEPRA Academy

Team TMN chat with Alex Malouf, Vice-Chair, MEPRA, to find out more about MEPRA’s newly launched academy, and the courses currently on offer…

Tell us a bit about the MEPRA Academy?
The MEPRA Academy is an initiative to bridge the skills gap in the Middle East region for the public relations and communications industries. We often had people working in the industry, or others who were looking to become communicators, approach us and ask what options there were for short courses that would help them to better understand certain areas of the industry, such as social media. To fill this gap, we decided to partner with several training providers and established trainers, both in the region and back in the United Kingdom, to establish the MEPRA Academy and offer a range of one-day courses that would meet the needs of professionals in our industry or those who want to know more about certain areas of our work.

Where did the concept originate?
We wanted to create an educational resource that would support our industry in this region and help PR and communications professionals, or those learning about our profession, to gain more theory and practice about skills that will allow them to either carry out their job or give them the ability to grow into new, up-and-coming communications roles such as public affairs and internal communications.

What kind of courses does the MEPRA Academy offer?
We offer one-day courses in public relations and communications essentials such as media relations, planning, measurement and evaluation, internal communications and employee engagement and social media. We also offer a two-day course in executive communications leadership for communications professionals who lead their own departments or are in a management role. The courses are delivered by trainers from the PR Academy who have worked with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and who have delivered training to Middle Eastern audiences beforehand.

Why did you decide that now was the right time to open the academy?
MEPRA has run training programmes beforehand, but we wanted to create a structured approach to training for our members and non-members in the region. One issue that the communications industry has long contended with is how to support the development of professionals in the region. There are few options out there in terms of training, especially considering how fast our profession is evolving. The courses offered through the Academy will continue to evolve, and our aim is to provide a platform where our members can support their own development and progress in their career.

Who is the Academy aimed at?
The Academy is aimed at anyone and everyone working in, or looking to enter, the public relations and communications industry across the Middle East region.

What kind of changes are you hoping to instigate?
We want communicators and public relations professionals to engage in continuous learning, we want to be able to support them in this process, and we want to be able to deliver an education to our members and non-members alike that we can guarantee in terms of quality. We also want to support the notion that communications should have a seat at the board, and in order to do that we need to ensure that we are working towards best practices in this region. We are running other educational and certain initiatives in the region, and we’re also look at rolling out other development programmes for our members in 2016 to support lifelong learning.

Why should established PR professionals register for the MEPRA Academy?
Our industry is always changing. As an example, who could have foreseen the disruption that digital or social media would have brought to what we do?

There’s so much happening that we cannot stop still, no matter how many years of experience one may have. Having said that, we do have a two-day workshop designed for those with several years of management experience. The two-day executive communications leadership course supports professionals with tools to better engage their senior management and build a more effective communications structure for their organisation…

What courses are upcoming?
We have a range of one-day courses being offered, focusing on several key areas. We’re continually asking our members for feedback on what courses they’d like to see, and where they’d like these courses to be held. The MEPRA Academy will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the PR industry in the region.

How do people secure a place on a MEPRA Academy course?
All they need to do is to go to, and choose which course they’d like to attend.

Generation 3D

Dominic Wright, Business Development Director of Generation 3D Printing, tells Team TMN more about the new printing consultancy and how they hope to inspire more creativity in marketing… 

Tell us a bit about Generation 3D…
We are a 3D printing consultancy. We design and create 3D printed models and unique objects, using the most innovative technology coupled with talented designers to create products that have a real wow factor. We were born out of the F1 industry in the UK, 3D printing parts for the cars and now we want to bring large-scale 3D printing to the Middle East.

Are you the first 3D printing company operating in the UAE?
We aren’t the first to set up, however to our knowledge we are the only company working on the scale that we are and in the markets we are looking to work in. We are looking to work on large-scale creative projects and instillations, as this is where our large printers and experienced creative team add the most value.

Did you face any challenges in establishing Generation 3D in Dubai?
In a word, yes. The 3D printing market is extremely young here, making it very exciting to work in, but also challenging. There aren’t yet the support networks in place for larger scale printing, which has meant at times we have had to carry that burden. For instance – my business partner and I had to manage the operation of forklifting our 700kg printer through a second story window entirely by ourselves. Thankfully that went to plan!

In a nutshell, how does the 3D printing process work?
It uses a 3D CAD image from the computer, then slices that file into thousands of layers. A printer then builds up a solid object from that image. It lays down a very thin layer of material (usually around 0.1mm), then another layer of color ink and binder (glue essentially). The printer then goes back and forth repeating this process, layer by layer until a solid object is created.
This gives us the unique opportunity to take design constraints away from individual manufacturing or building and allows us to make one-off, unique items very quickly.

Who is Generation 3D’s target audience?
Anyone who has a creative idea or the need to make a unique object/model. Primarily we are focusing on the B2B market, working with other companies around their 3D printing needs. We work mostly with Architects, designers, developers, marketing/advertising agencies and medical industries. We feel introducing it to businesses first will help lead the way to wider adoption. Next year we will be opening an e-commerce store for the whole Middle East to enjoy!

How is Generation 3D beneficial to communications professionals?
We help people to communicate their ideas clearly. They say an image represents a thousand words, well add a few zeros and you have the impact of a 3D model that you can see, touch and explore.

Harvard Business School did a study on sales and marketing and found that a marketing stunt is 50% more successful when having something physical to interact with, and a sales pitch keeps people engaged for three times longer. We want to help all organizations wow clients or colleagues internally with the power of 3D printing, by creating something unique.

How expensive is 3D printing?
It’s much cheaper than people think. Buying a printer is costly, but to have a one off, or unique product created and made by someone like Generation 3D, it works out about one fifth of the price of normal manufacturing or having the same product made by hand. 

What does the future hold for Generation 3D?
The future is a world of opportunity for us and everyone else in 3D printing. As the awareness grows so will the uptake.

The very first 3D printed buildings are currently being tested and Dubai is set to install one in its ‘Museum of the Future’. Airplanes are installing the first 3D printed parts. We hope to be a pioneer in the world of 3D printing and help this amazing technology change the world for the better. We feel we are at the start of the next industrial revolution and it’s only a matter of time before 3D printing is disrupting all industries.

The Creative Design Conference 2015

Team TMN sit down with Douglas Okasaki, Secretary and Treasurer for the Society for News Design – and Senior Designer for Gulf News – to find out more about the 2015 Creative Design Conference, to be held in Dubai on October 23 – 25, 2015. 

Tell us a bit about The Creative Design Conference 2015?
The Creative Design Conference is a masterclass in design possibilities available to the publishing industry. It’s an opportunity for professionals and students to learn and follow trends across all publication platforms: print, online, tablets and mobile. The event is organised by the Society for News Design – a non-profit organisation that aims to enhance communication around the world through excellence in visual journalism, with around 1,500 members worldwide.

Parallel with the conference, we also have three great workshops on offer: Infographic with Fernando Baptista from National Geographic Magazine (USA); Arabic Layout with Osama Aljawish from Al Shabiba (Oman) and Arabic Calligraphy with Dr. Salman Alhajri, professor of Art and Design, at The Department of Art Education at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman.  

Tell us about the concept behind The Creative Design Conference …
We want to gather creative individuals in the region and encourage them to share experiences. The Middle East has huge creative design potential, especially in Dubai’s hugely multi-cultural environment. The concept of sharing talent in the region is quite a new one, and the highly competitive environment that is the publishing industry can make people afraid that sharing their ideas will lead to others copying, manipulating or innovating them to their advantage. Keeping talent a secret seems to be the norm over here, but we believe that creative people can make a difference. The Creative Design Conference aims to bring and mix local and international professionals to share in their creativity, resulting in greater creative impact all-round. 

What made you decide to bring The Creative Design Conference to Dubai?
The publishing industry in this region is vibrant. Dubai is a strong reference point for general media in the Middle East, and all platforms here have an immense opportunity to grow, both in print and digital. We also recognise the constant need for members of the media to learn more and update skills by participating in conferences and workshops.

How do you think news design differs in Dubai from elsewhere in the world?
The multi-cultural characteristics in Dubai are everywhere. This makes subjects, interests and experiences in the city much more diverse. For example in Sports news, we have to accommodate fans of cricket, golf, soccer, horse racing and so on. For main news stories especially, we have a considerable number of communities in Dubai to listen to, and consider, when designing newspaper layouts.

The country’s ongoing development and construction projects mean that so much is being developed here, and all of this information must be addressed and presented in a clear and legible way.

Can anyone attend The Creative Design Conference 2015?
Yes! We mix themes that embrace general design topics such as layout, infographics, illustrations, interactivity and design management. Nowadays if you are in the publishing industry you can’t forget its design aspect, especially in Dubai where the consumer/readers/users have a high visual education and good taste. The event is open for professionals as well as students.

How can media companies get involved in The Creative Design Conference?
Simple – we have our website,, with links for suggestions and inquiries. If you want to be more involved with Society for News Design ( then your contribution is more than welcome. We have additional regional design competitions, workshops and even exhibitions, run by the organisation, from time-to-time.

Could you tell us more about who we can expect to see at The Creative Design Conference this year?
We would like to cover all platforms for creatives from print to online.  I still feel that our region needs to develop more in Interactive online coverage in particular. To remedy this we have invited Al Jazeera (Qatar) Interactive producer Mohammed Haddad; the Al Jazeera team is producing a high quality of interactive journalism online with a mix of graphic elements, video, pictures and really interesting work that can bring some inspiration for our regional online websites.

Not only is the technical aspect for the creative professional life covered, but the inspirational –  Liz Prado has experience working as a graphic designer while simultaneously developing her carrier as a painter/artist, she will talk about how to combine what you are and what you want to be.

Dani Blizzard and Lois-Rose Knowles from Digitalgurus, a high profile creative recruitment from UAE and UK, will talk about what professional profiles are in demand in the region and their advice on staying up to date on professional life.

The speakers and topics for the conference were carefully selected, with the regional publishing industry in mind.

What can we expect to gain from The Creative Design Conference 2015?
Inspiration. This is what we want our attendees to gain. And I believe they will.

 How do you think the Creative Design Conference will develop in the future?
The conference follows trends in the industry and more importantly, the people. Technology is nothing if you don’t have great ideas and creative minds behind projects. We still believe in the huge potential of professionals. The main focus of this conference is to bring in great minds to discuss their experiences and share their knowledge and skills for participants to acquire, practice and be more creative.


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

Signé Society

Team TMN catches up with Roshin Rahman, Editor-in-Chief at luxury publishing house Ad Maiora Media, to find out more about the new Signé Society, launched in partnership with Signé Magazine.

What is the concept behind Signé Society?
Signé society is the brainchild of Signé magazine, created to translate the magazine’s philosophy – Craftsmanship, heritage and a unique experience of the luxury industry – into tangible experiences.

What made you decide to launch Signé Society in Dubai?
This is an interesting story – we used to gather over a cigar/dinner with friends and, sometimes, even a few readers who would like to know more about Signé magazine. These gatherings had been happening for a while before it occurred to us that it would be really great to do similar things on a more organised basis, involving the brands/personalities who were the topics of our discussion. From those gatherings and conversations, Signé society was born. 

What will the society offer in addition to Signé Magazine?
Our objective is to offer members an insight into the world of luxury, by providing in-depth knowledge as part of unique and exclusive experiences for the gentlemen in the region. 

How will you make Signé Society stand apart from similar member organisations?
Unlike many traditional members-only organisations, there is no membership fee – the selection of members is based purely on their level of knowledge of the luxury industry and passion for the finer things in life. This means that we are all likeminded. The launch event was a success because of this, with members from different backgrounds meeting for the first time and getting along well together.

Upon joining Signé society, members are provided with slippers bearing a Signé society monogram and these must be worn to all events. We believe this to be a very stylish and elegant way of showing unity within the organisation.

How will Signé Society events be organised?
Signé society events will be highly exclusive, comprising of a maximum of 20 selected members. The criteria for the members who will attend these events will be their areas of interest – some men may like events involving watches and fashion, for example, whereas others may prefer those with a focus on art.

Will the events be covered in Signé Magazine/online?
Yes, of course. The events will be covered both in print and online, as part of Signé magazine. Our launch event has been published in the magazine’s June edition alongside a beautiful video, to give viewers a better insight into the atmosphere at our society events.

How can PRs get involved with these events?
PRs will be welcome to get involved with the brands they represent and discuss potential involvement of their clients, so long as said brands are in line with Signé Society’s values.

Are there any advertising/promotional opportunities?
Yes, we are open to these kinds of discussions, as long as they add value to our members’ experiences and make them even more unique and personal. 

Are there any future plans for Signé Society?
I believe the future will tell us. At the moment, we are concentrating on organising exclusive and one-of-a-kind events for our members and bringing Signé magazine’s philosophy alive through these.

Are there any further brand extension plans for Signé Magazine?
We have a few in the pipeline and will definitely discuss in the near future!

Luxury Lifestyle Awards 2015

With the eighth annual Luxury Lifestyle Awards coming to Dubai on May 21, we sat down with Alexander Chetchikov, Owner and Founder of the awards, to found out what we can expect from this years event…

When are the Luxury Lifestyle Awards 2015 and where will they be held?
The eighth annual Luxury Lifestyle Awards Middle East will be held for the first time in Dubai, U.A.E on May 21st at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and we anticipate 300 guests.

Tell us about the concept behind the Awards…
The Luxury Lifestyle Awards are international awards presented to companies in the luxury sector, for their initiatives and outstanding achievements. The awards are given following an impartial, independent and large-scale evaluation of companies. Participants are evaluated by an expert jury, which includes the first persons of international companies in the luxury sector, independent experts and business analysts, as well as chief editors of targeted mass media. We believe that receiving an award will boost a company’s profile in the eyes of the professional community.

This will be the first time that the Awards are held in Dubai. What makes the UAE the best place to hold such an event?
The Middle East market is one of the fastest growing and most promising markets in the world of luxury. Dubai is the most expensive city in the Middle East – making it the gem of the Middle East, combining luxury, opulence and lavishness with a high regard for leisure and business-related extravagance. We are pleased to hold the awards in Dubai and we hope that our project will help luxury brands, represented here, to become famous globally.

What makes brands eligible to enter?
All brands and companies who are doing business in the luxury sphere and are either globally recognised, new and local, or want to enter another market, can register for participation. After receiving their registration, our analytical department will vet them according to the criteria of the category they have registered for. If they match said criteria, we will invite them to participate in the Luxury Lifestyle Awards.

Can you give us some details about the awards/categories themselves?
Companies and luxury brands from across the Middle East region were invited to register and participate for various categories: residential real estate, luxury restaurants, luxury hotels, boutique hotels, national brands, luxury spas and wellness centers, luxury jewelry brands, luxury design studios, fashion designers and private banks. Participants were selected in the following categories according to an evaluation criteria, and each category has its own, unique criteria.

Who judges the entries for the Luxury Lifestyle Awards?
The Honoured Jury of the Luxury Lifestyle Awards is a professional honourary committee comprised of leaders who have a wealth of knowledge on the luxury market, and deliver unparalleled service and passion to each of the particular branches of the industry they work for. Each member is selected for his/her global expert opinion, valuable practical experience on their local and international luxury market. The Honored Jury consists of three jury sets: International (professionals from worldwide), Middle East (professionals from Middle East countries) and Main Jury (owners and CEO of the nominated companies).

 What has been your advertising strategy for the UAE?
In a rapidly growing global luxury market, we understand that we should put digital at the centre of our advertising strategy in order to attract new clients and retain existing ones. Our focus is on online promotion by building conversations with clients and engaging them. We are present on different social media networks – LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube – and for each of them we generate unique content relevant to that media channel.

How do you think the Luxury Lifestyle Awards will develop in the future?
Future upcoming events will be in Dubai and the Luxury Lifestyle Awards Europe 2015 will be held in Milan, Italy, at the end of September 2015. In the next year we want to enter into the US and Asian markets, by engaging all spheres of the luxury sector.

Valleywood Dubai 2015

With the first-ever Valleywood Dubai taking place on May 14, Team TMN caught up with Dimitri Papadimitriou, Head of LiquidThread MENA, the content division of Starcom MediaVest Group and organisers of Valleywood Dubai, to find out what we can expect from the event…

What is the concept behind Valleywood Dubai 2015?
The concept was born out of the ever-merging and converging worlds of Silicon Valley and Hollywood – hence the name Valleywood. By this, we mean that the way content is created and distributed has changed and the entertainment, technology and content creation arenas can no longer work nor grow separately; Valleywood Dubai looks at the confluence and complementarity of these worlds. TV and branded content producers are not only determining entertainment and technology trends, but also, constantly monitoring and measuring consumer habits to anticipate and create the content that consumers will find relevant. Today, they have at their disposal the technology that will help them with precision marketing and addressable content creation.

Valleywood already takes place in LA and London. Why bring the event to Dubai?
Valleywood Los Angeles and London enjoyed massive success. The decision to bring this experience to Dubai was only the next logical step. Dubai is in a unique position in that it sits at the intersection of global trendsetting and regional powerhouses. Bringing Valleywood to this city next was a natural step. The region has a lot to offer and explore and we are looking at Valleywood Dubai as a platform that will connect our clients and partners with both regional and global content creators, broadcasters, established and emerging tech players, startups, investors and publishers.

What will be unique about Valleywood Dubai 2015, compared to its global counterparts?
Valleywood is the first-of-its-kind conference anywhere in the world, so it already sets itself aside from other counterparts. What will be unique about the MENA edition is the local perspective that it will take. There will be international participants as the technology and entertainment worlds are increasingly global, but there will also be a strong focus on the local content scene.

Do you have any plans for ways to follow up from Valleywood Dubai 2015?
Valleywood is meant to challenge attendees to go beyond the boundaries of traditional thinking and explore avenues inside and outside of their industry for a new age of storytelling and precision marketing. That in itself will open new doors for collaboration between players that have, conventionally, stayed apart. We are expecting Valleywood Dubai to be the conversation starter between these players, even more so in light of LiquidThread unveiling its new capabilities and solutions – centering on addressable media and data-driven content. That’s how we’re hoping to build on Valleywood going forward.

 Do you feel that the industry in MENA should be doing more to use tech and content creators for new forms of brand storytelling?
The region’s content creators have been doing great work in and around storytelling – just look at the Peeta Planet series. What we could see more of are the tech partnerships helping propel those stories, as well as other partnerships and collaboration between brands, agencies, content producers, startups and publishers. That’s the very premise on which we’re holding Valleywood.

 Do you feel the content creating world is changing in MENA?
Yes, and this is driven by the maturing of the content market. It started out a few years ago with small groups of people making cool stuff to watch, and that have now evolved into proper content producers – and into fully-fledged entertainment companies, in some cases. If you look at the likes of Sa7i, Telfaz11 and UTURN, they have become increasingly structured in their content production by working with agencies and clients to create world-class work. And now, they are also tapping into tech tools that will hone this content structure. It is a very interesting success model to explore in our business.

Could you tell us more about who we can expect to see at Valleywood Dubai 2015?
You should expect to see a diversified lineup of international and regional players in the entertainment, content creation, entrepreneurship, tech and publishing industries. The likes of Google, Facebook, Vice, Fremantle Media, UTurn Entertainment and Endemol will be taking part.

What can we expect to take away from Valleywood Dubai2015?
We want attendees to leave with a look into the future of content and technology and to be inspired by what they have seen. They will draw on the expertise and learnings of industry veterans, experts and emerging talents who are creating and scaling content that is personal and relevant to people. We also hope that Valleywood starts a broader conversation around content and tech.


Saffron magazine

Team TMN sits down with Madhu Arora, Publisher of Saffron Magazine, to find out more about Saffron Media Works’ latest publication, ahead of its launch next month…

So we hear Saffron will be one of the newest additions to the print magazine offerings in UAE. When will it launch?
The magazine officially launches on May 1st, however there will be a launch party on April 29th.

What is the concept behind Saffron?
Conceptually, Saffron is a holistic South-Asian and Arab centric publication that is designed to entertain, inform and empower.

 What made you decide to launch Saffron?
A market survey that we did last year revealed the absolute paucity of home grown publications. Local magazines are very, very few and far between. Most magazines on the shelf are properties that have been imported and then tweaked to suit local sensibilities. We felt that there is a definite need for a magazine made in Dubai, for Dubai.

What are the main features of the magazine?
The magazine, we like to believe, has pretty much taken most sensibilities in to consideration. It is not a niche or interest-specific publication.

Will Saffron be available online, or exclusively as a print publication?
Initially, just the print version will be available. The online will follow in a bit. However, the magazine will have a very strong social media presence to keep its readers both informed and engaged.

Who is Saffron’s target audience?
The target is fairly broad but mainly directed at the South Asian and Arab readers. Asians, specifically Indians rank the highest within UAE’s population followed by Arabs. We want to cater to the mass population in the region through our magazine and have devised our content strategy accordingly.

Will you be working with a dedicated editorial team, or are there opportunities for freelancers?
Currently we have a happy blend of both, leaning more towards the dedication of the editorial team. Freelancers are welcome to contribute to the magazine as well.

How can PR’s get involved?
PR professionals will have a lot of opportunities to work with the magazine. The official launch event will offer a great interaction opportunity for PRs to meet the editorial team. We are very open to receiving any information that they might have.

Are there any future plans for Saffron, once it has been launched?
There are absolutely tons. The challenge in-house at the moment is actually to prioritise.