In The Hot Seat – Waseem Yakdi

Team TMN chat with Waseem Yakdi, CEO, Zia Creative Network, who talks about his current role and offers his thoughts on the PR industry in the Middle East.

Name: Waseem Yakdi

Age: 33

Nationality: Syrian

Current job title: CEO, Zia Creative Network

When did you first arrive in Dubai? 2006

Where did you work prior?

Multinational Advertising Agencies, Film production houses and event management companies all over the UAE.

What were your first impressions of the advertising industry in the Middle East?

Since UAE has always grabbed the world’s ATTENTION in the advertising sector, it becomes imperative for us to be updated with THE latest trends and technologies in order to catch up with the growing pace of the industry in the region. Therefore, my aim has always been to fetch creative brains and compliment them with high-end technology in order to create thought-provoking advertising campaigns.

Has your opinion changed much?

Definitely a lot ever since I started my own advertising agency.

Tell us about your current role & what challenges do you face?

I manage our business development, marketing department, creative studio, film director and supervise the advertising and film production work. My major challenge is to achieve the client’s expectations by thoroughly understanding the client’s objectives and transforming the idea into execution that deliverS tangible results. I am able to achieve this through my skillful team and by guiding them in the right direction.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

It’s always been my achievements complimented with client’s satisfaction. These two things always keep me motivated and help me set the highest benchmarks in the field of advertising.

Is traditional media still relevant for effective branding in the region today?

Yes, of course. There is and will always be old school requirements and we still deliver that happily. I believe that Below The Line (BTL) advertising is never going to lose its charm because Old is Gold.

How do you keep up with the latest creative tools and technologies?

Being updated with the latest creative tools and technologies is something I cannot afford to miss, if I do, I will leave a chance for my competitors to take the lead and that is not in my dictionary.

Has cultural differences in the region created a limitation or an advantage to advertising campaigns?

Not at all, creativity has no limits and if you are good enough to spread the message effectively, you can spread it through a book that can be read by everyone irrespective of the cultural diversity.

Describe yourself in five words.

Hard worker, Optimistic, Charismatic, Creative and Ambitious

Who inspires you?


What’s your most overused saying?

Get the work done today, to get another one tomorrow

Five things you can’t live without?

Technology, my professional tools, my creative team, my sport activities and my suits 🙂

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

Working hard to achieve my current position and aiming to make it even better.

What’s your favourite form of media?

ATL and TVCs

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in advertising in the UAE?

Define your abilities and find your route, work hard and you will definitely achieve what you aim for, if you have the passion for it, you will do it well.

Starcom makes new appointment 

Starcom, part of Publicis Media, has appointed Racha Makarem to the role of Regional CEO. With over 15 years of experience in the agency, Racha previously worked as Head of the Analytics and Insights Practice and most recently held the role of Managing Director of the Data Science Practice. In her new role, she will elevate the passion and collaborative spirit of Stardom to drive change while also continuing to build the agency’s deliverables against the increasing demand for data.

“Over the past 15 years, my expertise has been in helping our clients solve complex business problems from the lens of the consumer, mining data and delivering actionable insights,” says Racha. “Previously, as the head of the Publicis Media Data & Science Practice, my role was to build this expertise across our network and client teams, fueling marketing transformation in an age where data is prevalent.  In my role as CEO, I will accelerate this momentum, ensuring that we continue to shape the industry.  My priorities, leading Starcom, the Human Experience Company are; to work closely with our clients to create real solutions that accelerate their growth, to leverage actionable data and technology to deliver marketing transformation, and to invest in our people who will drive the capabilities around data, technology and performance to propel the growth of our clients business in today’s digital economy. We have never faced a more dynamic time to be in our business and I’m excited to be at the helm of Starcom, leading into tomorrow.”

Memac Ogilvy welcomes new Managing Director 

Memac Ogilvy has appointed Philippe Berthelot to the role of Managing Director. With a wealth of experience in delivering award-winning creative campaigns globally, Philippe most recently worked with brands such as Pepsi, Lays, Google and France 24. In his new role, Philippe will lead the agency’s operations and focus on delivering modern marketing solutions to help increase awareness of its brands.

“I’ve always been an experience junkie, always needed a challenge, and always needed to grow in my career – that’s what’s led me across the world from the creative to the account side,” says Philippe Berthelot, Managing Director, Memac Ogilvy UAE. “The truth is, consumers have changed as well. They seem to care less about brands today. That’s why our goal is to create purposeful work that makes brands matter in peoples’ lives. It’s as simple as that.”

ITP Media Group launches B2B beauty brand 

ITP Media Group has launched new B2B magazine, Middle East Beauty. Middle East Beauty will include a monthly magazine, a website and social media platforms. The new brand will target owners and operators of salons, spas and aesthetic medical service providers while connecting industry figures, artists, stylists, spa managers and product manufacturers. The magazine and website will feature exclusive interviews with beauty players across the region as well as product releases, events, innovations and industry trends. The new launch will also see the appointment of Claudia de Brito to the role of Editor. Claudia most recently worked with Caterer Middle East where she held the role of Editor. In her new role, she will oversee all content for the print and digital platforms.

“We are pleased to announce the launch of Middle East Beauty. Changing social dynamics and growing audience of both men and women with high disposable incomes have transformed the Middle East into the fastest growing beauty market in the world,” says Alex Reeve, Managing Director, ITP Business, ITP Customer. “Led by an experienced and creative team, our new launch will provide its readers with an in-depth analysis of this booming industry. ”

Create Media Group makes new appointments 

Digital communications agency, Create Media Group has appointed Sandra Khawand to the role of Account Director. With over four years of experience in the region, Sandra most recently worked with brands such as Dubai Tourism, GoPro and Nestlé. In her new role, she will take the lead on the agency’s new accounts, develop strong and innovative social media strategies while ensuring the progress and growth of each account.

Create Media Group will also see the appointment of Diogo Bernado to the role of Account Manager. With a wealth of experience in paid social media management across the Middle East, Diogo is a digital strategist from Lisbon and has worked with brands such as Emirates, Chanel, Swarovski and Hyundai. In his new role, he will be responsible for driving key social media accounts and delivering creative campaigns, focusing mainly on paid media and social media management.

“Both Sandra and Diogo bring a wealth of global account management experience and we’re really looking forward to seeing the impact they’re going to have both on our culture and our new client accounts,” says Tom Otton, Managing Director, Create Media Group.