Think Liquorice makes new appointment

Think Liquorice has welcomed Raaziqa Hassen to the role of Senior Brand Manager. With experience in the PR industry, Raaziqa previously worked with Press Room in South Africa as Senior PR Account Manager, where she worked across international brands such as H&M, Red Bull and Billabong. In her new role, she will lead the team on accounts and projects, working closely with clients through a strategic and creative approach.

“I’m excited to welcome another member to the team,” says Zahirah Variawa, Managing Director, Think Liquorice. “Raaziqa brings great experience to Think Liquorice, that I know our clients and future clients will benefit from.”

Sony Music welcomes Brand Partnerships Associate

Sony Music Entertainment Middle East has appointed Kevin Harvey to the role of Brand Partnerships Associate. With over four years of experience in advertising in the Middle East region, Kevin was most recently an Account Executive at MullenLowe in Dubai where he worked across a range of brands including Red Bull and Majid Al Futtaim. In his new role, he will be joining the Brand Partnerships team to provide brands with expertise in creative music solutions through music consultancy, concept development and campaign execution. Kevin will be reporting to Anna George, Brand Partnerships and Licensing Manager for Sony Music in Dubai.

In The Hot Seat – Hussein M. Dajani

Hussein M. Dajani, Chief Operating Officer at Hug Digital tells Team TMN about the challenges he faces working in the digital industry in the Middle East and the rewards of effective management…


Name: Hussein M. Dajani                   

Age: 36                                          

From: Beirut, Lebanon               

Current Job Title: Chief Operating Officer – Hug Digital

When did you first arrive in Dubai?
My journey in Dubai started in 2004, when I was a Senior Account Executive with Leo Burnett, working on the Dubai Holding group of companies. Leo Burnett gave me an amazing opportunity to interact with and understand the people behind Dubai’s amazing success.

Where did you work prior?
I have over 15 years of experience with multinational agencies such as JWT, Leo Burnett, and TBWA. I’ve also worked on the client side for Virgin Mobile as well as Red Bull, across the Middle East and Africa region.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
I was still young and easily impressed when I moved here. Back then, outdoor billboards were considered an innovation and moving from Saudi to Dubai felt like jumping 20 years into the future in a time machine. I remember when 7Days newspaper came out and its size was innovative by comparison to the other big, bulky newspapers on offer. That was the golden era for the media industry over here. 

Has your opinion changed much?
Yes, very much so and for various reasons. One being, I have changed but also, consumers’ behaviors have changed, media consumption has changed. Yet the media industry didn’t evolve with these changes and so now it is starting to pay the price.

Tell us about your current role
When I first joined Hug Digital, I was in charge of uplifting the agency’s social offerings across the region. Six months down the line, I was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the agency, where I now report directly to the Chairman and CEO. I’m responsible for maintaining relationships with clients, expanding the agency to new markets and elevating offerings from digital, innovation, research, social, and content. It’s like wearing many hats at the same time.

What challenges do you face?
The biggest challenge I face is finding the right talents, recruiting them and retaining them. The new generation is so different from my generation when we started working. They don’t have the “mojo” for work and they aren’t ready, nor do they want to go the extra mile.

Another challenge faced by the whole region – financial, political and economical instability. When Saudi suffers, the whole region does, and so far Saudi is witnessing the biggest hit as a result of overall negative market sentiments.

A third challenge I face is convincing clients to go digital, regardless.

Lastly, staying updated with the latest trends, innovations and breakthrough’s happening in digital, which is one fast-paced industry, is a challenge. But you’re either ahead of the game or you’re a follower. 

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing staff happy at work and witnessing the agency grow. Managing the reputation of an agency isn’t an easy task, but it is definitely rewarding when you hear positive news, even from strangers. That’s when you know that you are doing the right thing.

On March 25, 2016 we celebrated the sixth anniversary of Hug Digital. We are now in four markets (Dubai, Cairo, Jeddah, and Trivandrum), employ 13 different nationalities and have a local, regional and multinational roster of clients. It is really rewarding to be part of something small that is growing by the day. 

Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
What’s a landline? Work calls are either on mobile, Skype, Gtalk or Whatsapp.

Describe yourself in five words…
I can do so in two: Happily Dissatisfied.

What can’t you live without?
My wife, my mobiles, water and my Apple TV.

If you could have one work wish granted, what would it be?
More transparency, ethics and honesty in the industry. I would like the communication industry to return to its glory days. 

What is your favourite form of media?
Digital all the way. Unfortunately, TV to me has just become decor, radio is for passing time when in the car and not on the phone and print, oh dear, CO2. I honestly can’t remember the last time I held a newspaper or a magazine.

The Red Bulletin to launch

International men’s active lifestyle magazine, The Red Bulletin is set to launch in the United Arab Emirates in April 2016. Covering sports, culture, arts, music and lifestyle features, the magazine offers a range of global content as well as national interests, with a visual storytelling approach to journalism. The Red Bulletin will begin with an initial print run of 12,500 copies, and will be under BPA audit from its launch. Priced at AED 15, the monthly publication will be available from retail outlets, sports retailers, Virgin stores, Vox Cinemas, Red Bull events, universities, hotels and airline lounges, as well as bars, clubs and other selected partners.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Red Bull Media House and Awesome Media to provide a fresh, new publication to the UAE and beyond,” says Chris Haill, Publishing Director and Partner, Awesome Media UK. “The magazine fits the ethos of the UAE, offering aspirational editorial and visual storytelling from a worldwide brand. Already distributed in 11 countries, we feel the ‘gives you wings’ approach of Red Bull perfectly fits the UAE way to life, culture and business.”

Effie MENA Awards announces 2015 jury panel

The Effie MENA Awards 2015 is set to launch on November 18, 2015 at the Pavilion, Armani Hotel in Dubai. The seventh edition of the awards will be judged by a panel including a total of 13 international, as well as 90 regional judges, all at a senior corporate level from a variety of industry sectors such as publishing, luxury retail and banking. The panel will be judging entries to celebrate and reward creativity in marketing.

Members of the 2015 judging panel include Ian Armstrong, Advertising General Manager, Jaguar Land Rover – London;  Christopher Saldana, Director Marketing Services EEMEA, Mondelez Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa and Vikram Krishna, Head Group Marketing and Customer Experience, Emirates NBD. The final deadline for submission to this year’s awards is September 27, 2015 and previous winners in the scheme include Nissan Middle East, Henkel, PEPSICO and Red Bull.

“As organisers of the annual Effie MENA Awards, we are both honoured and delighted to have such distinguished figures participating as judges in this year’s programme,” says Alexandre Hawari, Co-CEO, Mediaquest Corp. “The quality of our panel means that the winners of this year’s Effie will have the kudos of knowing that their work has been deemed the best by prominent leaders in their respective fields.”