In The Hot Seat – Tala Samman

Tala Samman of tells TMN about how her blog has evolved and what she thinks of Dubai’s growing media landscape…

Name: Tala Samman

Age: 25

From: Syrian/American

Current Job Title: Editor of / DJ

When did you first arrive in Dubai?
When I was little – I’ve grown up in this city!

Where did you work prior?
I worked at Tom Ford’s headquarters in London, as well as at Grazia Magazine and with Halston’s Celebrity dressing department in NYC while I was studying at university. Then, in 2012, I joined a Conde Nast title,, as Fashion Editor, before I decided to turn my blog into my full time job.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
The media industry in Dubai is tiny – everyone knows everyone!

Has your opinion changed much?
It’s slowly growing, but it’s still a much smaller market compared to other major cities.

Is blogging your full time job or a part time passion?
It’s pretty much a full time job!

Tell us about
Back in 2009, was the first blog to come out of the UAE. At that time, I was a student at the London College of Fashion and the blog purely covered fashion. Seven years down the line, I’ve matured and so has my blog – it’s now more of a lifestyle portal, a curated guide to fashion, beauty, travel and food.

What’s the most rewarding part of blogging?
Getting the opportunity to inspire people. I love hearing my readers share how my blog has helped them – whether it encouraged them to take the leap and do something they love, or saved them when they needed recommendations.

Which international Bloggers inspire you?
I don’t know if they necessarily inspire myfashdiary, because I think diversity is key to the blogging world and it’s one of the reasons I love it. But a few of my favorite blogs include because I’m addicted and Man Repeller.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a blog/career in the media industry?
Don’t start it for the wrong reasons. Ask yourself ­– do you have something new and original to share with the world?

What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
In all honesty, I buy nearly every UK and US magazine on my iPad or in print. In Dubai, I don’t buy more than two or three a month. The content is getting better, but I like to read a magazine and get inspired; you don’t get too much of that here.

How do you find PRs in the region?
Like any city or market, we have some great PR agencies and some not so great ones!

What’s your pet PR peeve?
Whatsapping me for work. I respond to my emails within 24 hours, you don’t need to send me Whatsapp messages!

Do you accept press material from PRs?
Yes, but when I write about something, it’s going to have to be beyond whatever is in that press release.

How would you rather be contacted?
I would rather be contacted by email, please.

What’s your most overused saying?
‘I mean…’

Five things you can’t live without?
Iphone, iPad, coffee, my family and music.

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?
Working at a school!

If you could change one thing about media in the UAE, what would it be?
I’d make a rule against copying press releases.

How do you see online journalism/blogging changing in the UAE in the coming years?
The media industry is getting a lot more competitive, so hopefully magazine/blog content will become much stronger than it currently is. 

What would be the next step for you (would you look to launching a publication, collaborating with any brands/media etc.)?
I started DJ-ing over a year ago, so the foreseeable future will be spent focusing on music as well as