Name: Farah Zoghbi
Current job title: PR Account Manager, The Qode
When did you arrive in the UAE?
I first arrived in Dubai in 2002 where I completed my first internship at two flagship properties, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and InterContinental Dubai. The year I spent here got me instantly attached to the city, as it was the perfect blend of Middle Eastern culture with Western influences. I kept coming back every winter break until I graduated from École hôtelière de Lausanne in 2006 and re-launched my career once again in Dubai. Having lived here, on and off, for over 12 years, I have witnessed the ups and downs of the city and it has been an incredible experience to be part of all its accomplishments.
Where did you work prior?
I was freelancing for start-up businesses (business plan development, report writing, strategy, etc) and prior to that I was part of the Marketing Communications team at The Fairmont Dubai.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Coming from Switzerland, I was impressed by the fast pace and number of different media titles in the local market. Over the last few years, it has been great to see the number of international publications that have opened local offices in Dubai, which has further strengthened the quality of PR in the region.
How has your opinion changed now after all these years?
I see more niche media these days. With the dramatic growth of various business segments, the number of industry focused publications has increased dramatically, so we are able to target more publications with our brands, opening up more opportunities and giving businesses greater exposure as they appeal to more media. Online media has also changed the role of the industry, making it even more fast paced and creating even more opportunities to communicate both internally and externally.
Tell us about your new role…
With Dubai making its cultural mark in the region, the hospitality industry has witnessed a boom in the city. All leading hotel chains and food and beverage concepts are racing to be part of this success. With my background in the luxury services industry, I will be focusing on creating unique PR approaches to set these brands apart within such a competitive market.
What challenges are you facing?
As mentioned previously, Dubai is extremely fast paced, so you don’t have the luxury of time. Things need to be done right away or you miss out on great opportunities. Therefore, when working with new concepts, sometimes things are delayed, so you end up losing out on great exposure.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Representing unique brands and being part of its development and success in such a highly competitive market. In the PR and media industry, you also have the chance to work alongside a very diverse group of people, so you become more familiar with different work styles/cultures and ethics.
What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
Its amazing how when I first used to go to supermarkets, over ten years ago, to pick up my magazines, the selection used to be quite limited and the foreign magazines would dominate the locally produced ones. Nowadays, its amazing to see the wide variety and number of publications that are produced locally and also come in so many different languages. I have seen the quality of the media change completely parallel to the growth of the city. As Dubai has positioned itself as a pioneer and leader in the region in so many areas, this has both challenged and enhanced the quality of the media.
Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
Mobile, whatspp or email! My iPhone is always with me so its the easiest way to instantly connect with people.
Describe yourself in five words…
Easy going, honest, fun, dedicated and passionate.
What’s your most overused saying?
I always believe “good or bad; it happens when you least expect it!”… So just live in the moment and never wait for things to happen, because if they’re supposed to, they will.
Five things you can’t live without?
My family, friends, music, gym shoes and iPhone.
If you weren’t a PR, what would you be?
Just like my father, I would be a hotelier. Retiring and running a cute boutique hotel in the middle of the mountains of Lebanon. That would be a dream.