Five Minute Focus – Dubai Lynx 2018

With Dubai Lynx coming up, Team TMN sits down with Thea Skelton Festival Director at Dubai Lynx, to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…

When is Dubai Lynx 2018 and where will it be held?

Dubai Lynx 2018 will take place at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena, Dubai from March 11-13 with the Dubai Lynx Awards Ceremony to be held on March 14.

Tell us about the concept behind Dubai Lynx…

Dubai Lynx is the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s annual event for the creative communications industry. The Festival brings people together to learn, network, be inspired and celebrate the brilliant creativity that comes from the region.

As a sister Festival to the globally renowned Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity, Dubai Lynx is part of an influential network and its premium global standards makes it well respected as one of the most credible awards and festival in the creative sphere within the region.

How will Dubai Lynx 2018 be different compared to the previous years? Tell us about the new aspects…

This year we have a new focus on healthcare, including a specific ‘Healthcare award’ andCreativity in Healthcare Communications Stage’. We are also expanding our startup offering with a dedicated ‘Startup Stage’, designed to unite start-ups, brand partners and agencies along with ‘The Business of Creativity Stage’, which will explore the business and management of creativity and offer advice and guidance on the practical aspects of business in the creative sector.

What are the challenges you face to make each year’s event different and meaningful?

The biggest challenge we face is raising the bar even higher each year. We bring a mixture of big name celebrities, industry legends, fresh faces and ideas to the stage along with experimental formats, and it’s really important for us to continue to do this and provide attendees with the best experience possible.

Can you tell us more about the awards/categories themselves?

The Dubai Lynx Awards celebrates the best creative work in MENA and have been doing so for the past 11 years. They’re all about recognising, nurturing and setting the standard for brilliant creative work in the region’s creative communications industry each year.

Do you have any feedback or tips for submissions, to help them stand out?

Feedback from our jury usually includes reminders to keep your submissions concise and provide clear examples of what the campaign achieved. If you’re considering entering but need some help, we have a team of experts who manage each award category from the very beginning of the process right through to coordinating the winners picking up their awards on stage. Their knowledge is encyclopedic and you can ask their advice or assistance at any time by emailing

Who will be judging the entries for the Dubai Lynx Awards and Competitions?

The juries at Dubai Lynx represent the full breadth of the creative, design and digital communities. With over 2,600 entries from across 22 countries last year the breadth of experience and the global remit of the jury members is essential in ensuring that the benchmarks are set to the highest standards possible. The full jury line up will be announced in the coming months.

Who will be speaking at the event?

All kinds of creatively-minded people come together at Dubai Lynx. Each year we see a selection of top brand leaders, award-winning creatives, start-up founders, innovators, broadcasters, directors, marketers, artists, musicians from across the region and across the broader global creative community.

The line-up for the Dubai Lynx Festival 2018 will be confirmed closer to the Festival but to get a flavour of the event, take a look at who spoke at last year’s event through the website.

What will be the key topics of discussion at the event?

There is no specific theme, but all sessions have creativity in some form at their heart. Themes vary each year based on what the industry puts forward to discuss, ranging from creativity that drives inclusivity and modern storytelling to using technology as an enabler of creative communications.

What has been your advertising strategy in the region?

Dubai Lynx is a joint venture between Cannes Lions, the International Festival of Creativity and Motivate, with the support of Choueiri Group, Dubai Media City (DMC) and in association with the UAE Chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA). These are fantastic partners with exceptional teams who help us share the Dubai Lynx message.

Is Dubai Lynx open for anyone to attend? What is the registration process?

Of course, anyone can attend and we encourage those with a passion for creativity and innovation to come and be inspired. Each year, the Festival attracts thousands of delegates from across the region and further afield including, advertisers, brands, fintech, governments, healthcare providers, innovators, media agencies and owners, production companies, startups and technology companies.

Passes can be purchased by visiting the website.

What is the reaction you expect, following the event?

We exist to recognise and celebrate the best of MENA’s creativity. The Awards Ceremony is always an incredible event as it demonstrates the quality and variety of regional creativity, which is showcased by the Festival. The connections made at Dubai Lynx propel people, brands and businesses, which is what drives us to make it better each year.

What kind of changes are you hoping to promote and encourage with this event?

We introduced an ‘Innovation Award’ last year to support and strengthen the efforts of the MENA region in becoming a global innovation and technology hub. This has grown and developed at a phenomenal rate with some of our Startup Alley participants taking their companies globally. This year we’ve launched a ‘Healthcare Award’ in consultation with the local industry. There’s a thriving scene of specialist healthcare agencies across MENA who are producing some truly innovative and pioneering work in a challenging sector. We envision that this area will grow in the coming years and it will be exciting to see how Dubai Lynx can help life-changing creativity in the region to flourish.

Five Minute Focus – PRCA x TMN Training

With the launch of the ‘PRCA x TMN Training’ by Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and The Media Network (TMN), Team TMN sit down with Leanne Foy, General Manager at PRCA MENA to talk about the initiative and what to expect…

Tell us about the concept behind the ‘PRCA x TMN Training’…

The concept behind PRCA x TMN training is to provide a platform for continuous professional development. We strive to deliver excellent training that develops talent in the region by offering online training through our live or on demand 90-minute interactive webinars, half day, face-to-face and bespoke training as well as our global CPD program. By developing talent, we will keep the industry up to date with emerging trends and best practices. This results in increasing industry standards, talent retention and more effective practices.

Who is your target audience and how can they get involved?

PRCA has training courses at introductory, intermediate and advance levels. We are targeting those that work in PR and communications looking to enhance their professional development.

What is the approximate cost per session?

Our face-to-face half day training courses are priced at AED 695 for members and AED 1,295 for non-members. The online training webinars are priced at AED 295 for members and AED 395 for non-members.

Can you give us some more details about the trainers?

All of our trainers are industry professionals and have completed a PRCA trainer’s accreditation, where they have been observed on delivering a training session. All trainers are part of our quality assurance plan and are observed every six months as part of our quality promise.

Why should agencies participate in the training session?

Training and development is a proven technique in retaining talent. It demonstrates staff investment, and will train staff in key areas of the business.

What kind of changes are you hoping to promote and encourage with this training?

One of the PRCA’s main objectives is to increase the standards in the industry. Training and professional development is one way we are actively doing this. Our training incorporates best practice and develops talent.

Why did you feel the need to launch the PRCA x TMN Training in the region?

The PRCA has an extremely successful and comprehensive professional development program, with certified training to an industry standard. PRCA MENA has adopted this in the region after consulting with our members and identifying a lack of industry accredited training. It is vital that we develop and retain talent in our industry and by partnering with TMN it will extend our reach.

How does this training course differ from other courses in the region?

PRCA MENA training courses are certified by the most dynamic industry body for PR and communications. All of our training courses whether they are online or face-to-face contribute to our global CPD program. We offer a variety of training across key skills, writing, digital, creative, crisis, public affairs, winning new business, personal skills and finance and profitability, at introductory, intermediate and advance levels.

What has been your advertising strategy in the region?

We’re promoting our training courses through our networks of members and non-members as well as through content such as our newsletter.

What is the reaction you expect from participants, following the training sessions?

We expect our participants to be extremely satisfied with their courses – we require very high levels of feedback for all trainers.

What benefits are participants expected to gain from the sessions?

Increased knowledge in the subject field, alongside areas of best practice and techniques to use in their day to day work. All sessions have a set of learning outcomes relevant for each course.

What does the future hold for the PRCA x TMN Training?

We will continue to work with our members to identify skills gaps and develop training courses that meet their needs.

Five Minute Focus – Marcomms360

With Marrcomms360 coming up, Team TMN sit down with Austyn Allison, Editor at Campaign Middle East, to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…

When is the Marcomms360 conference and where will it be held?

The conference will be taking place all day on October 4, at the Steigenberger Hotel in Business Bay, Dubai.

Tell us about the concept behind the conference…

The conference is a partnership between Campaign Middle East and Haymarket, which publishes Campaign out of the UK and it is based loosely on Haymarket/Campaign UK’s very successful PR360 events, which have been running annually for a number of years now. The UK event is focused on public relations, but we have expanded our scope for a couple of reasons. One is that the marketing community here is smaller and it would be a little too exclusive to only talk to PR professionals. But the other reason is that the industry is also changing, and all of us – I include journalists, PR agencies, advertising shops and media buyers – are treading on one another’s toes and plying our trades in much the same area. So we are looking at marketing as a whole, which means that while we are keen to encourage as many PR professionals as possible to come along, we also expect to see people from advertising, client-side, media agencies and elsewhere in the audience and on the stage, discussing the challenges and opportunities the marketing and communications community faces as a whole.

Who is your target audience and how can they get involved?

Our target audience is basically anyone involved in marketing and communications. From interns to CEOs, PR agencies to media buyers, advertising creatives to journalists. We are all working to get messages across on different platforms and often we are working together or working in areas that might once have been the territory of those with other job titles. If you are a content producer or a client handler, register and come along and there will be something to interest you.

What is the registration process?

The registration process is simple. Go to, and you will be directed to where you can buy tickets online.

Why did you feel the need to launch the conference in the region?

Haymarket’s PR360 has been very successful in the UK and we felt it was time to bring something similar to the Middle East. There are already excellent conferences on creativity run by the likes of Dubai Lynx and on technology, and innovation run by some of the agencies. Bodies such as the PRCA and MEPRA do a sterling job of bringing the PR community together, as does The Media Network. But we wanted an event that would look outside the silos we work in, and look at how integrated marketing and communications in the region works. This is why we are looking at topics like how to put together pitches and how to work in an integrated way with other agencies, among other topics. The industry used to be a pretty basic jigsaw with only a few large, simple pieces (strained metaphor alert!). But in recent years someone has come along and chopped those up into smaller pieces that can be put together in any number of ways. We want those pieces to talk to one another and make sure the picture they make up is the one the clients sees on his box.

Do you foresee any challenges in launching this conference?

There are challenges in launching any conference. Getting the right speakers, making sure that attendees are alike enough to get along but different enough that they learn from each other during the networking sessions. And I have to admit that as a mere Editor, more at home with a messy desk and a Word document, the logistics fill me with dread. But luckily we have not one but two experienced teams on the case: Haymarket and Campaign Middle East’s parent company Motivate (which runs events from the Gulf Business Awards to Party in the Park) have some ridiculously good people who have been soldiering away behind the scenes for at least six months now, making sure everything goes smoothly. As a result, we have a stellar speaker line-up, with some familiar faces and some fresh surprises, we have a great venue; and we have a programme that will offer something for everyone without trying to tell you what you already know.

What kind of changes are you hoping to promote and encourage with this conference?

I think we are trying to encourage conversation more than change. But in a way that is change in itself. If, as a result of the conference, PR agencies talk more to media buyers, who talk more to brand strategists who talk more to social creators… and so on down the line, then I think we will have done our job. Five years ago people talked about breaking down silos. Those silos are gone and the point of Marcomms360 is to lead the conversation about what comes next.

What has been your advertising strategy in the region?

We have been using digital and social a lot to reach relevant people in a cost-effective way. And we have been using that oft-underestimated method of simple word-of-mouth, calling up our contacts and industry friends and telling them why they should get along to the event. As Editor of Campaign, I write about marketing and advertising on a daily basis, but I’m glad I’m surrounded by people who can actually do it.

Can anyone attend the event?

Absolutely. And anyone who is thinking about it should head along to to find out more. There will be more for those who are directly involved in PR, marketing and communications, but some sessions (fake news, I’m looking at you) are going to be interesting for all.

What does the future hold for Marcomms360 in the region?

We certainly hope to make this event an annual one. It’s a great way to expand the brand of Campaign Middle East, and also to bring the marketing and communications community together to tackle some of the existential questions we are all facing.


Five Minute Focus – TMN Legal Initiative

With the launch of the ‘TMN Legal Initiative by The Media Network (TMN) and Al Tamimi & Company, Team TMN sit down with Fiona Robertson, Senior Associate at Al Tamimi & Company to talk about the new initiative and what to expect…

Tell us about the concept behind the ‘TMN Legal Initiative’…

It became evident when TMN and Al Tamimi did a presentation on legal issues around content creation, that a lot of smaller agencies were not using well-written and up-to-date contracts for their client services. For smaller companies and particularly those in startup mode, securing quality contracts does not get the priority that it deserves and this is often due solely to the cost. So TMN approached us about the possibility of assisting new small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the media industry to obtain quality contracts by allowing four SMEs to band together and share the cost of doing one contract between them.

Who is your target audience?

We are specifically targeting PR, marketing and communications agencies with a maximum of ten employees that have been in operation for less than five years.

What is the approximate cost for a consultation per agency through this initiative?

We have set the cost at AED 4,200 per agency. For this, they get a consultation on a one-to-one basis and then we will draft a contract that all four companies can use as their template.

Why should agencies get involved in the programme?

This is a unique opportunity to get access to our lawyers who specialise in this area for a fraction of the usual cost. We are doing this because we believe that the smaller agencies are leading the way with iconic work and truly targeted initiatives for their clients but they don’t always have the cashflow (yet) to employ our services. We want to help them. In addition, we believe that an industry that is strongly focused on doing business ethically and legally is going to assist all of us in the long term.

How would the programme grow from client servicing?

We are already doing a programme of exciting presentations with TMN and we are keen to keep that going – send your ideas to TMN and they will pass them on to us. Ideally, we hope that our chosen four companies take off to become massive success stories – and keep us as their lawyers!

What is the registration process?

TMN will be taking the applications directly and they will then be passing them on to us. You can email if you would like to be considered, but please serious applications only. Payment must be received before your place is secured and a meeting set up.

What kind of legal changes are you hoping to promote and encourage with this initiative?

We are hoping that the industry learns to see media lawyers as trusted facilitators who can help them manage their business towards growth. Working with lawyers early in transactions can assist in clarifying and managing the relationship between clients and suppliers. Clarity in relationships, which is best done with contracts, means that your business (and your staff) will be able to clearly understand your responsibilities – which means less arguments, less payment delays and more repeat business!

Why did you feel the need to launch this initiative in the region?

Although we are lawyers, we are industry lawyers, who feel very much a part of the media business. Plus I do think that newly created SMEs need all the help and support they can get.

Do you foresee any challenges in launching this initiative?

Juggling the needs of four entities will be tricky. People have a tendency to think that we simply ‘replace all’ in contracts but in fact this is not the case. Each business has its own particular way of operating – and very different areas of importance. Some are very wedded to a particular approval process with clients whilst others don’t want to be too specific with approvals. I am already having nightmares about how to juggle contract termination ideas from four different companies!

What does the future hold for the TMN Legal Initiative?

I am hoping to choose one key contract a year and do it again, but let’s take one step at a time!

Five Minute Focus – MENA Effie Awards 2017

With the MENA Effie Awards coming up, Team TMN sits down with Alexandre Hawari, Co-CEO at Mediaquest, to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…

When is the MENA Effie Awards 2017 and where will it be held?

The MENA Effie Awards will take place on November 15, 2017 at The Pavilion, Armani Hotel, Dubai.

Tell us about the concept behind the Awards…

Effie Worldwide stands for effectiveness in marketing communications, spotlighting marketing ideas that work and encouraging thoughtful dialogue about the drivers of marketing effectiveness. The Effie network works with some of the top research and media organisations worldwide to bring its audience relevant and first-class insights into effective marketing strategy.

Launched in 1968, the Effie Awards program honours the most effective advertising efforts and is known by advertisers and agencies globally as the pre-eminent award in the industry. The Effie Awards celebrates effectiveness worldwide, by continually raising the bar through the Global Effies and the Positive Change Effies, as well as regional programs in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East / North Africa, North America, Latin America and more than 40 national Effie programs.

As a Co-CEO at Mediaquest Corp., why did you feel the need to launch the Effie Awards in the region?

The region is transforming and we needed to acknowledge and celebrate the people and companies that are helping in this transformation. Hence, in 2009, we joined forces with the world-renowned Effie Worldwide to become the GEMAS Effie MENA Awards, which are now called MENA Effie Awards.

Today, the Effie Awards are known by advertisers and agencies globally as the pre-eminent award in the industry that recognises any and all forms of marketing communication that contribute to a brand’s success.

What are the challenges you face to make each year’s MENA Effie Awards different and meaningful?

The one factor that makes the MENA Effie Awards stand out as an award program is our transparency and credibility of the awards, which is something that is of utmost importance to us and we need to ensure it is well respected.

We work with some of the top research and media organisations worldwide to bring the audience relevant and first-class insights into effective marketing strategy.

Can you give us some details about the nomination process?

Simply log on to our website, for full details on how to submit your entry.

Do you have any feedback or tips for submissions, to help them stand out?

The most fundamental question judges ask of an Effie submission is, ‘How persuasively have the authors made their case?’ – followed closely by ‘What were they trying to achieve and how ambitious were they in the first place?’

Entrants need to review and understand the criteria on which the questions are based in order to be able to answer the fundamental questions judges ask. There are some common mistakes that entrants make, such as the following, which need to be avoided.

  • Results/data not referenced
  • Case study needs
  • Agency name or logos published on the entry form or on the creative materials
  • Including results or competitive work/logos on the creative reel
  • Failing to follow the formatting requirements
  • Missing translation

Judges read so many cases at one go, so they are looking for a case to be coherent and also to ensure that entrants have managed to state their objectives, ideas and key performance indicators (KPIs) clearly for them to be able to judge. Most importantly, for the results, judges look for direct correlations between real objectives and results and to check that they are properly sourced.

The more precise and relevant the documentation, the stronger the case, and the higher chances entrants have to win.

Who will be judging the entries for the MENA Effie Awards?

Being an Effie judge is one of the toughest jobs because as a judge you are not only raising the bar for the industry by the winners you select, but you are at the same time sending a message to the industry on different levels about marketing effectiveness. Due to this very reason, the judges who are on the panel are marketing veterans from the industry, chief marketing officers, vice presidents, marketing directors/managers, corporate communications and brand managers. The MENA Effie Awards are also focused on enhancing learning in our industry and what better way to do that than to have the industry as part of the jury panel?

Can you tell us more about the awards/categories themselves?

The categories are decided based on the judges’ feedback and depending on how the market is transforming. Based on that, the categories are divided into three segments, Product and Services categories – these categories speak to the overall industry, while Specialty categories are designed to address a specific business situation or challenge and then you have Shopper Marketing, which is for integrated campaigns that were specifically designed to engage a target shopper.

What has been your advertising strategy in the region?

The event targets the marketing and advertising industry in the MENA region. It was extremely complicated to find a cost-effective way to reach this sector, so we relied on many different approaches, such as direct marketing and advertisement in print media, as well as regular above-the-line advertisements, digital advertisements and social media campaigns.

What is the reaction you expect, following the event?

The Effie Effectiveness Index identifies and ranks the marketing communications industry’s most effective agencies, advertisers and brands by analysing finalist, and winner data from Effie Worldwide competitions. The greatest result following the MENA Effie Awards would be how the MENA region brands and agencies stand out and make their names along with the global players and for more great work coming out of the region.

FP7, an agency from the MENA region, has been making its name in the global index for two years in a row and doing better than its global offices.

Can anyone attend the awards ceremony?

The event is open to the marketing and advertising industry across the region, as well as agencies who work along with the clients on their marketing campaigns.

What does the future hold for the MENA Effie Awards in the region?

As an awards program, the MENA Effie Awards have already made its mark in the industry as the Oscars for the marketing industry.

What we now aim for is MENA Effie to become a network for the marketing industry through programs, insights, videos and white papers on effective marketing and other key educational and learning tools focusing on sharing insights on the principles of effective advertising and marketing communications.

Five Minute Focus – ArabNet Digital Summit

With the ArabNet Digital Summit coming up, Team TMN sits down with Rana Yaacoub, Media and Partner Manager at ArabNet, to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…

Tell us about ArabNet Digital Summit…

The ArabNet Digital Summit is the region’s most influential conference for digital business and innovation and will be hosting it’s fifth edition to bring together 80 top speakers, 50 exhibitors, over 1200 attendees, and more than 50 key talks and sessions. The summit will involve discussions on the latest in the fields of media, marketing, e-commerce, financial technology, internet of things, big data, investing in technology, and digital business transformation across four separate forums, AdTech, Smart Economy, Digital Commerce, and Innovation and Investment. The event will also feature 18 of MENA’s most promising startups competing at the ArabNet Startup Championship, as well as leading investors from across the world discussing the state of the industry.

When did the summit launch in the region?

The first ArabNet Digital Summit to took place in Dubai in 2013, while ArabNet conferences launched across the region with Beirut in 2010, Riyadh in 2012 and Kuwait in 2016.

When and where will this year’s event take place?

The ArabNet Digital Summit will take place on May 16-17 at the Madinat Jumeirah Conference and Events Center, Dubai.

How will this ArabNet Digital Summit 2017 be different as compared to the previous years’? Please tell us about the four forums…

This year’s summit will include four forums that will cover different tracks within the economy, digital, media and advertising as well as innovation and investment fields. The forums will be categorised into;

  • Smart Economy Forum: This full track explores the smart economy covering smart cities, smart governments, the future of cars and transportation, and the digital enterprise as well as the blockchain and machine learning technologies driving this transformation.
  • Digital Commerce Forum: This forum explores the emerging trends and opportunities in e-commerce, e-retail and payments in the MENA region. It also dives into the digital transformations taking place in the banking sector, and the fintech innovations that are changing the financial services industry.
  • AdTech Forum: This forum features two full tracks covering the latest trends in digital media and advertising, including the AdTech Showcase, which is a convergence of new advertising and media technologies from around the world to improve the impact and efficiency of campaigns, and help publishers maximise revenues.
  • Innovation and Investment Forum: This forum features a full track for investors, with high-level discussions that includes, limited partners (LPs), private equity investors and family offices — to help the corporate community understand how they can invest in or collaborate with startups to stay ahead of disruption.

Also included will be the ArabNet Startup Championship, with pitches from 18 of the most promising startups from across the MENA region, handpicked through local pitching rounds and winners given the opportunity to go global.

What was the idea behind introducing four forums under one summit?

The regional market is changing. Audiences today prefer content and networking opportunities that are more specialised, which is why this year, we have shifted and spread the summit across four separate and specialised forums, which are the AdTech, Smart Economy, Digital Commerce, and Innovation and Investment.

What is the concept behind the AdTech Forum?

The concept of the AdTech Forum is based on analytics, content distribution, programmatic, native, bots and automation, which are all technologies that are reshaping how publishers, agencies and brands do business. The focus of the forum will be on topics such as measurement and attribution, content strategies in a world of distraction, ephemeral content; strategies and best practices, technologies changing the consumer journey and showcase of AdTech technologies.

What will be the key topics of discussion at the AdTech forum?

The main topics of discussions at the event will be, New technologies in online advertising, Influencer marketing: Popularity vs impact, Online brand strategies, Consumer experiences: Marketing and commerce

Who will be speaking/participating at the same?

The top regional and international speakers that will be participating in this year’s event will include:

  • John Stoneman, General Manager at Triplelift, Europe.
  • Lauren Maillian, Entrepreneur, Global Marketer, Startup Advisor, Speaker, TV Personality and Author.
  • Sarah Cunningham, Marketing Manager and Head of Demand Generation at AdRoll.
  • Sebastian Schindler, Global Insights Lead at InSKin Media.
  • Scott Lamb, Vice President of International at BuzzFeed.
  • Tim Wolfs, Chief Digital Officer at Altavia Group.
  • Liely Bullock, Enterprise Partnerships Manager – EMEA at Statiq.

The full list of speakers can be found on ArabNet’s official website.

Can industry professionals of the region participate as speakers at the event? What is the procedure to apply?

ArabNet has a track record of bringing together globally renowned speakers to discuss cutting-edge topics in web and mobile, through interactive panel formats, talks, and workshops. We are always on the search for innovative experts who can share their work and research. For speakers interested in showcasing a case study or research, whether on social media, at the Digital Summit or any future event, they may apply on the website.

Is the forum open for anyone to attend? What is the registration process?

ArabNet Digital Summit is an exclusive event, with two registration categories. The investors and corporates participation fee varies according to the registration time.

Young professionals, students and entrepreneurs can request an invitation and attend for free. The reason we chose to launch such an initiative this year is to support new entrepreneurs and young professionals who are in the process of establishing their business, but have no means to afford a ticket.

Who’s next for the top spot at Vogue?

Following the breaking news surrounding Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz’s departure from her position as Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Arabia, all questions point to who is next in line for the top spot. TMN lists out seven worthy contenders for the throne…

  1. Sofia Guellaty: Previously Editor-in-Chief of Arabia, also part of Nervora Publishing, Sofia has extensive experience in luxury fashion titles and is well known for discovering and honing creative Middle Eastern talent.
  1. Manuel Arnaut: Currently Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Digest Middle East, Manuel’s flair for fashion and style and association with one of Condé Nast International’s most reputed titles makes him a strong – and – likely candidate for the role.
  1. Rhea Saran: Previously Associate Editor and Features Editor of GQ India, Rhea was appointed as Editor-in-Chief of Condé Nast Traveller Middle East in September 2013. Renowned fashion journalist, Suzy Menkes may know something that we don’t… Rhea featured not once, but twice on Suzy’s Instagram over the past month.
  1. Ritu Upadhyay: Middle East Correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily for over 10 years, Ritu is well-versed with the Middle East and global fashion landscape, as well as the business and retail side of the industry.
  1. Louise Nichol: Editor-in-Chief of luxury women’s glossy, Harper’s Bazaar Middle East – which runs neck-to-neck with Vogue Arabia – Louise is an obvious choice and a more than able candidate for the role.
  1. Esther Quek: Previously Fashion and Beauty Director at APP for Rake Middle East, Revolution Middle East and Condé Nast Traveller Middle East and currently Editor-in-Chief of Citizen K Arabia, Esther is a well-known personality on the national and international luxury fashion scene.
  1. Alison Tay: Currently Editor-in-Chief of Grazia Middle East, Alison is a regular on the FROW at all the major fashion weeks. With decades of experience in fashion writing, styling and presenting, she’s an obvious candidate for the role.

Five Minute Focus – Top CEO Conference and Awards

With the Top CEO Conference and Awards coming up, Team TMN sit down with Julien Hawari, Co-CEO at Mediaquest Corp., to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…

Tell us about the Top CEO Conference and Awards…

The Top CEO Conference is a very unique concept – It brings together people from across the region to discuss the important issues that are making an impact today. This year’s theme is ‘Adapting to disruption: New Roles, new realities’. Regionally, low oil prices have had a huge impact on businesses and governments, leading to a tremendous number of changes, including new laws, regulations and taxes, plus a more open market. In addition, businesses and governments in the region have had to adapt to the introduction and impact of new technology and the fourth Industrial revolution. Attracting businessmen and women from the region, as well as key government officials and top academics, the Top CEO Conference discusses all of these topics and more, to help find solutions and drive businesses forward. Meanwhile, the Top CEO Awards celebrate the region’s best business leaders.

When did the Top CEO Conference and Awards launch in the Middle East?

The Top CEO Conference and Awards were launched almost four years ago, the result of a very simple premise, which was that the region was transforming and we needed to acknowledge and celebrate the people and companies that are helping in this transformation, creating growth and enabling good corporate governance and transparency in the region.

What were the challenges you faced when you first launched the event?

The first event was quite a challenge, because we did it in order to change things, to bring transparency to the awards and bring in-depth conversations to the conference. It took a lot of energy to ensure that our message was clear and the execution, perfect.

As a Co-CEO at Mediaquest Corp., why did you feel the need to launch Top CEO in the region?

The idea of starting the awards came more than four years ago, following a conversation with a friend. He mentioned how the GCC and Middle East are transforming and said the future is about the people, companies and CEOs that are creating value for shareholders and growing the regional business landscape by creating jobs, and also ensuring more corporate governance as well as more transparency. Along with the team behind TRENDS media, we created an awards ceremony that was very unique. There is no opt-in or opt-out, all publicly listed companies are evaluated and there is no fee for this evaluation. The Top CEO Awards were launched to put forward and celebrate the companies and their CEOs who are taking the region to the next level. The awards are based on hard facts and the listing is arrived at using a formula that was developed by us in collaboration with INSEAD Business School. We also worked with Hawkamah to find out how best to measure some of the corporate governance transparency criteria. One of the Big Four auditors help ensure that we have the same level of rigor and transparency on our side.

When and where will this year’s event take place?

The event will take place from April 10 – 11, 2017 in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia.

Why did you choose Saudi Arabia?

For the past two years, Saudi Arabia has been going through a magnificent transformation, economic regulation and a complete uplift of the economy that is helping make the fantastic Vision 2030 a reality. Saudi Arabia is also the largest market in the region, so it makes sense for a conversation that looks into the future of the region to be held there.

How will 2017’s conference be different, compared to the previous years’?

The conference this year takes the best of the previous years and builds on it. We have a very strong conversation that will discuss not just the challenges the region is facing, but also the opportunities being created, from the consequences of slow growth, to adapting to the new technology that is transforming business. Other additions this year include round-table sessions, as well as private sessions and meetings that will take place on April 10. These sessions will help the region formulate some answers to the question of what is going on globally in the world of business and how this impacts business in the region. These sessions will also look into anti-dumping and anti-trust laws.

For the media industry, one of the most important conversations that we will have at the Top CEO Conference looks at the need for the region to put in place some regulations to create a more level playing field, in terms of competition between global digital players and the regional ecosystem.

What has been your advertising strategy in the Middle East?

The Top CEO event is very particular. It reaches a very specific audience in the region, CEOs, board members, C-level executives and managing directors. It was extremely complicated to find a cost-effective way to reach this entire population – we relied on many different approaches such as, direct marketing and direct shipment, thanks to the help of our partner DHL, TV advertisements on several TV channels across the region, advertisement on print media, as well as regular above-the-line advertisements, digital advertisements and social media campaigns.

Please elaborate on the topics of discussion.

As mentioned, this year’s discussion is on adapting to disruption, what businesses and governments need to do in an age of complexity, where every single part of business is being disrupted by new challenges and how this should be done while maintaining and growing the customer base.

Can you tell us about the speakers at the event? Will it feature speakers from the media/communications/advertising industries?

There will be more than 40 different speakers at the Top CEO Conference and Awards. What makes the list very special this year is that all of the speakers, both from the region and abroad, will address fundamental disruptions that are impacting the market and share ideas on how best to adapt to these changes. They will also touch upon digital disruption and the fourth industrial revolution, as well as some other, more fundamental issues impacting the region and how all of these are modifying the way business is being conducted. The full list of speakers and agenda is on our website,

How will Top CEO benefit businesses and professionals in the media industry? Why would you recommend that leaders from the industry attend the event?

One of the topics being addressed at Top CEO Conference, which is particularly important for the media industry, is how to regulate the media industry, especially in light of global events impacting the region. Is it time for the region to implement the equivalent of anti-dumping laws? Are global players selling at a fair price or have they amortised most of the infrastructure and selling at discounted prices in the region? These are fundamental questions that the region needs to address. China has put a Chinese twist on different media, Europe has looked into more legislation and taxation. So the region perhaps needs to consider a mix of both. This is an important conversation that needs to take place, and naturally, it is important that the media and communication industry are part of the conversation.

Who is your target audience?

The target audience for the Top CEO Conference and Awards comprises of decision makers, CEOs, C-Level management and managing directors, people who have important business in this part of the world and look into ways to improve the overall economies in the region.

What is the reaction you expect, following the event?

The greatest result following the Top CEO Conference and Awards would be that important conversations essential for the future of the region take place between industry players, with a focus on improving each region at the heart.

Can anyone attend the conference and awards ceremony?

The conference is open to all decision makers from across the region.

What is the registration process?

Simply log on to our website, for full registration details, the full agenda and speaker biographies.

What should the press and media expect at the event? How can they get involved?

Media and press are welcome to the Top CEO Conference and Awards. They are an important part of the conversation and the event is a great opportunity for them to meet decision makers and speak with them on the future of the region. Media and press can log on to to register.

Five Minute Focus – PR Pressure

Team TMN sits down with Sarah Mohamed, Founder and Director at Secret PR to find out more about the second edition of PR Pressure…

 Tell us a bit about PR Pressure and when it will be held.

Launched in May 2016, PR Pressure is a series of conferences that address the challenges faced in the industry. Topics for the conference are chosen by the target audience to ensure that they’re relevant and up to date. Our aim is to bring media and communications professionals together to share their experiences and help the industry come up with pragmatic solutions for the region. The second edition of PR Pressure will take place on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at the Metropolitan Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road.

What is the concept behind the conference?

PR Pressure is a place where everyone’s voice is heard. There are many existing conferences around the region that discuss similar topics and issues, however, speakers are usually redundant and many times, the smaller agencies are under-represented. We cannot grow without acknowledging different professional levels and this serves as a platform for students, freelancers, juniors and seniors to voice themselves.

Did you face any challenges when you launched the event last year?

I think our biggest challenge last year was setting the foundations for PR Pressure. Standing out from other similar platforms and creating a solid brand for PR Pressure was a priority. The team and I had to work on organising the event while also managing our existing clients, it was quite tough to manage our time internally while still maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Why do you think the Middle East PR industry needs a platform like PR Pressure?

PR Pressure is not just for the suits and ties, it is a casual open discussion where one can ask a question and not feel like they’re the only one who’s not in the know. I feel that the industry needed a platform like this, with a unique environment unlike other such events.

How will 2017’s PR Pressure be different from the first one that was held last year?

Aside from the different topics, we’ve decided to include more people on each panel to better capture the various sectors of our industry. Last year’s attendees requested for more in-house and media insight and that’s something we’ve worked to achieve for this year. Unlike last year’s conference, the sessions in March will also have live English and Arabic interpretation to allow more people to get involved despite our language barriers.

 What will be the topics of discussion at the second edition of the conference?

The topics for the conference are selected keeping in mind the common challenges faced and suggestions from our PR and media circles. There exists a level of uncertainty about the legal aspects of our industry and so this year, one of the sessions, ‘Maintaining proper form’ will feature lawyers who will shed light on the same. The conference will also address other topics such as complexities of the Arabic language and challenges it presents for copywriters as well as the future of PR in the ever-growing digital realm.

Tell us about your target audience.

Our target audience includes media, marketing and communications professionals as well as students who are looking to specialise in these fields. We have partnered with MEPRA and the PRCA this year to try and get more in-house representatives involved. In the future we would like to welcome more attendees from the client side as well – although I’d have to make sure our primary target is open to that first!

What is the reaction you expect following the event?

I am confident that our attendees will love PR Pressure but the real reaction I hope to achieve is proactive change. I want people to take what they learned at PR Pressure and implement it − that is when we will know that PR Pressure was a true success.

Tell us about the key speakers participating at PR Pressure.

We try our best to ensure that we accurately represent the industry in the region and give the audience a greater variety when it comes to speakers. This year we are lucky to have panellists from local, regional and international companies as well as freelancers, journalists, lawyers, consultants and government agencies. The speakers include industry professionals from companies such as Tactics, The Qode, IHC, Al Roeya Newspaper, Digital Ink, Cicero & Bernay, Procter & Gamble, Cedar White Bradley Group, MCG Associates and the Dubai Sports Council.

How does one register to attend the event?

People can register by filling out a form on our website and for group registrations, you can send through delegate and company names to

 What does the future hold for PR Pressure?

Most of the audience and participants of last year’s event said that they wanted more PR Pressures, so we are looking at either increasing the frequency of our conferences or creating other smaller get-togethers through the year. While we haven’t yet thought about expanding into more countries within the region, it is something that we could consider in the future. For now, I would like to focus more on the UAE as there is still so much to be done.


With the launch of the new industry event series, ‘Let’s Talk!’, TMN sits down with Mohammed El-Batta, Managing Director, Fekra Communications to find out more about what the industry can expect from the upcoming events…

Tell us a bit about Fekra Communications and your new event series.

Fekra Communications is a marketing communications consultancy offering communications and creative services to clients across the Middle East.

We’re launching a series of industry related events across the region under the title ‘Let’s Talk!’ that aims to bring together top communications and media experts, senior officials and policy makers to shed light on the hottest topics in the industry.

‘Let’s Talk!’ is designed to present today’s professionals with an expert perspective and learning opportunities on the latest trends. From preeminent thinkers whose work has defined the industry, to the rising stars who will redefine the way we think about business. It will provide a platform for the industry’s leading minds to share insights and best practices on how to protect an organisation’s reputation.

What inspired you to launch this new event series in the Middle East?

The Middle East is a highly diversified region where culture, media practices and expectations vary to a large degree. While the region hosts a growing number of talented professionals and experts with invaluable experience, unfortunately, this type of experience often goes undocumented. For that reason, we were inspired to launch this new franchise out of the need to connect the dots and fill in the gaps.

We believe that the best knowledge in any field is the knowledge accumulated first hand. One can read so many books, but we tend to learn better in an interactive environment. Learning also happens when one shares experiences and listens to different perspectives, via conversation.

We do not claim that our events focus on educating the media industry. Rather, we feel that there is a wealth of experience untapped and we’re stepping in to highlight it for everyone’s benefit. We learn from each other.

What will be the topic of discussion of the first series of events?

There will be an industry-specific topic for each event. The first series of events will focus on crisis communications. With the continuing evolution of communication platforms, news and word of mouth spread faster and even wilder than it used to a decade ago.

Today we live in a world where both government and corporate reputations are more fragile and where crises seem to be occurring more frequently. One of the biggest challenges for communication professionals is the early recognition of crises and how to successfully manage it using effective communication techniques.

‘Let’s Talk: Crisis Communications’ will bring together top communications and media experts, senior officials and policy makers to shed light on the right steps to take in a crisis and how to turn them into opportunities for exposure, marketing and enhancing corporate image. The conference will also be held in Cairo, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia this year.

Can you give us details about your target market and audience?

Our target market is the UAE, the GCC region as well as Egypt and Levant. The targeted audience are communication professionals, whether in the government or corporate world. The event should bring together PR agencies, government officials, journalists, social media strategists and bloggers which makes an interesting mix for fruitful and invaluable discussions.

When and where will the first event of the series take place?

The first event will take place from March 8 – 9 in Dubai, The Address Hotel Dubai Mall. Registration is now open online through our website. We have two registration options: Day one conference only and two days conference + workshop training.

Please tell us about the speakers and presenters that will participate in ‘Let’s Talk!’?

We have a wide array of expert speakers from the corporate world, government, PR & digital agencies and consultants in addition to media.

Our list of speakers currently includes names from Boeing International, Facebook, Brunswick Group, Ogilvy PR, Federal Competitiveness & Statistics Authority, Grayling, Dubai TV, Newsweek ME, Dubai Eye, APCO Worldwide, Carma, Social Eyez, vArmour, DarkMatter, ACG Communication & Training Consulting, El Masna3, in addition to renowned government advisors and digital consultants.

We are constantly updating this list and still in the process of adding more speakers!

Can industry professionals of the region participate as speakers or presenters at the event?

Yes, of course, we welcome professionals from the region to come on board as speakers or presenters. You can email us and and tell us a bit about yourself and what you would like to speak about. Someone from the organising team will get in touch with you as soon as we receive the expression of interest.

Did you face any challenges while launching the event across four countries?

Not really, thanks to Fekra’s extensive network and partners, launching the event across the four countries has not been difficult. We look forward to seeing the events come to life one after another this year and the years to follow.

What is the reaction you expect by hosting these events?

We expect valuable sharing of knowledge, experience and best practices, intensive networking to take place, probably leading to the emerging of new business partnerships or cooperation between the attendees and most importantly, enhancing the experience of communications professionals and making an impact on the collective performance of the industry.

What does the future hold for ‘Let’s Talk!’?

Depending on the right market, topic and demand, we may consider other markets in the future.