Managing/Publishing Director, Hanif Saddiq

Name: Hanif Saddiq
Age: 29… Ahem. Oh, okay 39
From: Bristol, UK
Current job title: Managing/Publishing Director CRE8 NETWORK

When did you arrive in the UAE?
I arrived in 2002 and originally worked at ITP helping to launch Time Out – more specifically Time Out Abu Dhabi – before moving across many other titles.

Where did you work prior to starting your own company?
I worked for both Specialist Publications and Future Publishing in the UK, prior to joining ITP in Dubai. I then launched CRE8 NETWORK. All previous companies were specialised publishers working across many titles and genres from magazines to newspapers to digital. I was also involved with the launch of 7Days at the very beginning – the 7Days brand and concept was started and developed in my apartment at the time.

You’ve been in Dubai for some time… how has it changed for you?
So many things have changed since arriving in 2002. In regards to publishing and media, the market has grown massively in the last 10 or so years. Definitely a lot more publications have been launched, but I feel one of the biggest and most positive changes is that the market has become more open and a little less governed.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Well, we are going back now! The main thing that stood out was the potential… the UAE had amazing potential and was a largely untapped media market. Coming from an advanced UK market, it was clear to see many areas to improve on.

How has the industry changed over recent years?
Generally, I think it’s more open now and adapting at a faster pace – there’s some great talent in town at the moment.

Tell us about your new magazine…
Our new contract title, DC, is a dedicated publication for Diners Club International cardholders in the UAE. The magazine will be a reflection of the sophisticated lifestyle the cardholders aspire to and live by. Each edition will be hand delivered directly to 15,000 cardholders across the UAE, along with exclusive distribution to selected luxury hotels, resorts and venues across the region.

How do you plan to make DC stand out from the pack?
It’s not just about print these days, it’s about how you communicate the publication across many platforms. I feel it is about engaging interactive content, that brings our print versions alive – where users can watch video, share with social media, scroll through sections, make a purchase and interact and view from multiple devices, such as mobile, tablet and desktop. It’s the future of publishing.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Variety. We are lucky enough to cover many different areas including branding, marketing strategies, product launches, web development, publishing (print and Interactive), celebrity interviews and even corporate film production. Our projects are so varied and keeps us stimulated for more.

What’s the most exciting thing to happen so far?
There are way too many to mention, but working on the new interactive publications for the likes of Ford, Maserati and Diners Club… there’s also plenty more to come, so watch this space.

How do you find the PRs in the region?
Generally speaking, I think PR has come on leaps and bounds over the past decade – when I first arrived it was a totally different ball game to what you see now.

What’s your pet PR peeve?
Receiving non-relevant stories and information to the publication at hand. Also continuous calls from some PRs wishing to know if we have received their press release… five minutes after sending.

What advice can you offer PRs seeking coverage in your magazine?
Very simply, we are interested in stories relating to the high-net-worth target market. We have a high-end user base and we need to satisfy that requirement.

Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
Rarely landline – mobile rules. We just deal directly these days. Even Skype, Whatsapp and Viber have become tools of the trade for communication and I see this expanding even further in the future.

Describe yourself in five words
Dedicated, creative, entrepreneurial, social and even hopefully inspiring in some cases to others who want to start their own company.

What’s your most overused saying?

Not sure. But the word ‘cool’ is quite frequently used…

Five things you can’t live without?

My Mac, family, friends, iPhone and Sport  – football and boxing in particular.

If you weren’t a publisher, what would you be?

Obviously, I would be in Hollywood! 🙂

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