New Carat offices appoint General Manager

Carat, part of Dentsu Aegis Network, has announced the appointment of Martin Boot as General Manager of Carat Qatar and Kuwait. Martin will report to both Ramzi Haddad, newly promoted Managing Director UAE & Lower Gulf, and Michael Nederlof, CEO Dentsu Aegis Network MENA. In this newly created position, he’ll be responsible for developing, driving and executing Carat’s strategy across these key growth markets for the business. Based out of Kuwait, Martin will look after Carat’s new fully-opened office in Kuwait, and oversee the transition of the existing business from Dubai to a new office in Qatar.

Martin has previously worked as Business Development director and Regional Account Director for Publicis Group Worldwide in Dubai, as well as Business Director for WPP group in Europe. More recently, he has worked on a consultancy basis for brands and agencies such as The Thought Factory, PIM Bahrain, Next Generation Caravans and The Commercial Bank of Qatar.

“Within MENA, Qatar and Kuwait are two markets where we expect to see continued economic and population growth,” says Michael Nederlof, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network. “As a result of this, these two countries are becoming of increasing interest to advertisers and we are very pleased to have a dedicated General Manager who will be able to move our businesses there forward. Martin has a proven track record in improving corporate efficiency and generating effectiveness.”

Commenting on his new appointment, Martin adds “It is with great pleasure that I take on this new challenge and I am confident that we will continue to build on the momentum that has fuelled Carat’s success in the region to date.”

OMD UAE partners with Pi Slice

OMD UAE announces its partnering with Pi Slice, the web-based social platform channeling funding for Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs). This comes as part of the media agency’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and its continuous contribution to developing the region’s economies and improving the lives of its people. OMD UAE and Pi Slice have launched a ‘lending page’ to promote micro-lending opportunities to its stakeholders and the wider community. Individuals can view a list of micro-financed projects and provide support to the initiative of their choice.

Through this collaboration, OMD UAE and Pi Slice bring a unique proposition to the UAE, linking individuals who wish to invest with Pi Slice’s MFI partners in the region, which, in turn use the funds to provide micro-credit to their customers. Micro-lending allows individuals to build a sustainable future for micro-entrepreneurs, as well as a supportive ecosystem for development at the macro level.

“We’re delighted to have found common ground with Pi Slice,” says Nadine Samara, Managing Director of OMD UAE & Lower Gulf. “We share the vision of a brighter future for entrepreneurship, to help alleviate poverty, stimulate development and improve the lives of many. Supporting ambition is hugely rewarding for both individuals and organisations, so we hope many around us will join us in this endeavour.”

Trends partners with INSEAD to celebrate Top CEO

To be held in Dubai on March 30, 2015 the forthcoming Top CEO event, organised by Trends magazine and INSEAD, celebrates the very best in GCC business leadership. The award honours leaders from publicly listed companies, evaluating these companies on the basis of their performance in 2014, when the combined market capitalisation for stock exchanges in the GCC grew to AED3.78 trillion ($1.029 trillion).

Top CEO was established in 2011 to acknowledge industry heads at the helm of growth in the Gulf equities market, which is increasing at a rate of 22% year on year. The program celebrates the business acumen of senior GCC business figures and highlights those individuals who have excelled as leaders for their respective listed organisations. The Top CEO award categories are: The 100 Best Performing Companies and CEOs, The 10 Most Transparent Companies, The Five Best Banks, The Five Best Telecom Companies and The Five Best Consumer Goods Companies.

“Top CEO is a major awards ceremony held to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the region’s leading CEOs,” says Julien Hawari, Co-CEO at Mediaquest, organisers of Top CEO and publishers of Trends. “Along with independent auditors, Trends and INSEAD will ensure the transparency of the process. In addition, Hawkamah – the corporate governance institute – helps us verify that corporate governance criteria have been adhered to. The awards’ stringent and open evaluation procedures make them the foremost leadership awards program in the region and a benchmark for business heads and their companies.”

Twitter to open offices in Dubai

Twitter will open its offices in Dubai in the next few months. Shailesh Rao, Twitter’s Vice-President for Asia Pacific, Latin America and Emerging Markets announced the news during a session discussing the future of Twitter at the Arab Social Media Influencers Summit. As the platform’s first office in the MENA region, it will aim to better serve local users, partners and advertisers. MENA is one of Twitters fastest growing markets worldwide, and this announcement serves as a part of the company’s increased investment and commitment to the region.

“MENA is a key strategic market for us and our new Dubai office will serve as the focal point to help our development across the region,” says Shailesh. “Dubai is a regional hub for many brands and advertising agencies and we are excited to build a team on the ground here who can work with partners directly, helping them get the most out of Twitter.”

New board members announced for MEPRA

The Middle East PR Association (MEPRA) has appointed its new board and leaders following the Annual General Meeting at Middlesex University, Knowledge Village, Dubai.

Brian Lott, Executive Director of Communications at Mubadala, is the organisation’s new Chair. Brian was previously Vice Chair under Nicola Gregson, who held the position since January 2014. Alex Malouf, who is Corporate Communications Manager in the Arabian Peninsula for Procter & Gamble, will become the organisation’s new Vice Chair. Board Secretary Thomas Ashby, from the strategic consulting agency Consulum, and Treasurer Mazen Nahawi, President of News Group International, will remain in their current roles.

“It’s never been a more exciting time to be a member of the Public Relations industry,” says Brian. “Communications is moving at the most rapid pace in recent memory. That is energising agencies, corporations, governments and public relations practitioners to be at the top of their game as the industry goes through massive change. MEPRA’s members are working hard to navigate this change, by hearing from outside experts as well as learning from each other.”

The new Board is structured around a number of initiatives for 2015, meant to advance the public relations agenda of its members.