Team TMN chat with Dominic Ellis, Editor, Business Traveller Middle East, who talks about his current role and offers his thoughts on the media industry in the Middle East.
Name: Dominic Ellis
Current job title: Editor, Business Traveller Middle East
When did you first arrive in Dubai? September 1999
Where did you work prior? Grocery and shipping trade magazines in London area; Independent Grocer made it onto Have I Got News For You? once, but Reed actually provided excellent training and I enjoyed travelling round the world writing long market reports for International Freighting Weekly, which gave me a thirst for travel.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East? Print reigned supreme amid the boom in Gulf economies, with magazines left, right and centre; there was no Netflix in those days, but Dubai Channel 33. At one stage I was editing three magazines simultaneously; it was hectic but enjoyable. Of course, everything changed after 2008.
Tell us about your current role… I count myself lucky to have been the launch editor of BTME in 2003 and still with the title 15 years later. The magazine had a redesign at the turn of the year with sharper photography and more lifestyle content – reflecting the wider changes in travel and hospitality. I contribute to gulfbusiness.com with the breaking news and the magazine enables us to reflect on the most important stories and trends, which is the best of both worlds.
What challenges do you face? Time and deadlines never change, and print publishing is universally harder than it was, but I’m fortunate to have a strong niche.
How do you overcome writer’s block? Write down key points and quotes, then it usually flows.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job? Travelling somewhere new and getting to experience the best in hospitality – although I travel a fair amount in economy. I do like meeting people and travel is full of characters.
How would you rather be contacted at work? We are all email driven these days but I don’t mind a phone call if it’s short and relevant.
What do you think of publications in the region? I can’t generalise, you’ll find good and bad everywhere, and publishing is a bit like going out to bat; you’re only as good as your last edition/score. The UAE clearly leads the way with English and Arabic.
What role has digital media played when it comes to reader engagement in the magazine industry? Motivate has a growing digital department and it’s clearly pivotal to every brand’s evolution. But there is no dressing it up – Facebook and Google have changed the rules of the game. How the next generation consumes news is different to before, yet I think – hope – if you’re providing value, revenues will come and you’ll survive.
Has the region’s culture and diverse audience posed as a limitation or advantage in producing editorial content?
Both. Not every article will appeal to the 200-plus resident nationalities, but ultimately our readers, like the guests in hotels and airlines, are drawn from across the spectrum which provides a wide scope for content.
What’s your pet PR peeve? “Did you get my press release?”
Describe yourself in five words… Positive, outgoing, friendly, focused. I’ll leave people who know me to add the fifth.
Who inspires you? Too many to mention! I look to mum and dad’s generation for wisdom, and to Andrew’s for energy.
What’s your most overused saying? “Can I get back to you on that?”
Five things you can’t live without? Computer, sunglasses, BBC radio, eggs & avocado
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Footballer of course. Then a cricketer. I didn’t like writing until I got to uni.
If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing? Hopefully something socially constructive.
What’s your favourite form of media? Mags of course!
What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in the media industry in the UAE? Always do something you enjoy. If you can find that, and work hard, the rest will take care of itself.