In The Hot Seat – Rachael Perrett

We chat with Rachael Perret, Editor at Abu Dhabi World, who talks about her role and offers her thoughts on the media industry in the Middle East…

Name: Rachael Perrett

Age: 29

Nationality: British

Current job title: Editor, Abu Dhabi World

When did you first arrive in Abu Dhabi?
I arrived in Abu Dhabi in January 2007 on a gap year and never left.

Where did you work prior?
I’ve only ever worked in the UAE and have worked for What’s On and done freelance writing for Hello! Middle East, Good and BBC Good Food

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to compare it to as my journalism career started and has grown here. But I certainly had a shock when I changed career (from hospitality management) and moved into the world of journalism. For starters, I was amazed at the lack of communication in the industry (ironic, I know) and how often things here are organised or announced last minute. This is a real challenge for those of us in the media industry who have deadlines, but alas it’s part of the culture here so I’ve learned to accept it.

Tell us about your current role…
The role of Editor is new for me but I’m loving it. Abu Dhabi World is a community magazine – we are people living in Abu Dhabi, writing for other members in our community. It’s incredibly satisfying meeting so many people here who make this place so special and getting to share their stories with readers.

We have a really small team and producing a weekly publication sometimes feels like we’re on a hamster wheel as we send one edition to the printer and start all over again on the next one in the same breath.

As an Editor, I still get to do a bit of writing, which I love. I’m constantly planning future issues and supplements, attending press conferences and events and always trying to get out and explore so that I never lose touch with the city as it’s constantly changing.

What challenges do you face?

There’s so much going on in the city and so many people doing cool things. But many people aren’t forthcoming with information and there’s only so much we can do to dig up stories when we don’t always know where to look.

Then there are the usual challenges that I’m sure many managers, not just in the media industry, face – lack of resources, time constraints and budgets.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

You just do! We don’t have time to get writer’s block as we’re writing several features a day but of course, there are times when it happens. I go get fresh air first. Then if something really stumps me and I can’t figure out how to pull all the words together, I’ll talk about it with a friend or colleague. Sometimes it helps to say things out loud and just let the words roll off your tongue in a casual conversation rather than stress about how you want it to come across on paper. Then you’ll often find that it all suddenly makes sense and everything will just start flowing.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Meeting new people on a daily basis who are from totally different backgrounds with amazing stories to share. Sounds cliché but that’s essentially one of the beautiful things about living in Abu Dhabi.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

Will Smith rapping a press release!

What do you think of publications in the region?

I think the quality has really improved over the years and we’ve seen new publications introduced that have added healthy competition. I’d love to see more independent publishing houses here with local publications that could reflect the essence of UAE life.

What role has digital media played when it comes to reader engagement in the magazine industry?

Digital media is a really valuable tool for us that has allowed us to reach new audiences and interact more with our existing one. For a magazine, it means better feedback and being able to monitor areas where you can then implement changes in print as well.

That said, I like to call the digital world a minefield: you never know what’s going to happen and one wrong step could be disastrous. The challenge is to create interesting content that’s as fast-paced as our lives are today, but that still fits with your brand identity.

Everything changes when you enter the digital world. You’re no longer competing with other print publications in your town or country, you’re now competing with the giants for the attention of users who themselves sometimes don’t even know what they’re looking for. Digital media is a whole other ball game.

Has the region’s culture and diverse audience posed as a limitation or advantage in producing editorial content?

Both. For us, we have 82,000 copies a week and our demographic is vast. So catering to such a wide audience is a real challenge for obvious reasons. But then that’s also one of the advantages. The diverse culture here makes for great content and readers here always seem to be eager to find out more and celebrate the local culture.

What’s your pet PR peeve?
People sending me content about Dubai… Sorry guys but not everything revolves around Dubai.

Describe yourself in five words…

Organised, creative, passionate, sporty and a health-freak

Who inspires you?

My parents.

What’s your most overused saying?
No way!

Five things you can’t live without?
My horses, my cats, dark chocolate, green tea and water

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An animal psychologist

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

I’d be pursuing my Olympic dreams! Or running a restaurant

What’s your favourite form of media?

Print. I will always love reading words on pages and flipping through from cover to cover.

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

Be willing to start at the bottom, don’t act like you know everything and always ask for and take on criticism to help you improve. I’ve seen too many people here who’ve studied journalism or media and come into the industry thinking they’ve got it all sussed – boy do they get a shock!

I got my foot in the door with an unpaid internship that lasted way longer than it should have or than I wanted it to, but I kept at it as it got me the experience I needed and I was working with such a great team who taught me much more than I potentially would have learned in a paid position with a less passionate and willing team.

Motivate appoints new Features Editor

Motivate Publishing has appointed Greg Synnott to the role of Features Editor for What’s On Magazine. With over seven years of editorial experience, Greg has worked freelance with several publications as well as launched his independent music website in Ireland, and most recently worked at Fairfax Media, New Zealand, as Social Media Producer for In his new role, Greg will curate content and relevant monthly features for several sections under the title.

“I’m excited to go back to print media and work with people who are excited about all things Dubai,” says Greg. “As a newbie to the city, I think it will be interesting to explore with fresh eyes, as well as bring my own views to such an established magazine.”

Farooq Salik goes freelance

Farooq Salik, former Senior Photographer and Studio Manager at Motivate Publishing has gone freelance. Having joined Motivate Publishing in 2005, Farooq has over 15 years of experience and has worked across a number of consumer and customer publications including Hello!, Emirates Woman, What’s On, Golf Digest, Emirates Man, Dubai Voyager, good, Gulf Business and Campaign. He will continue to work as a professional photographer for studio, on location and for events as well as offer creative social media content and services.

“I had a fantastic time working at Motivate, but I felt like the time was right to move on and make use of the experience I gained from working for a period of over 11 years at Motivate,” says Farooq. “I’m really excited about taking this next step and seeing what challenges lie ahead. I want to establish a reliable and efficient image and work as a social media content provider in the market which I feel is very rare here in Dubai.”

John Marsland goes freelance

John Marsland, former Art Director at Motivate Publishing has gone freelance. John brings with him 11 years of experience and has worked in the UK as a Product Photographer and in Dubai with ITP Media Group and BNC publishing before joining Motivate, where he worked on illustrating content and photography as well as across consumer and customer publications including Emirates Woman, What’s On, Emirates Man, Dubai Voyager, Good Magazine, Cyclist Middle East and Campaign. He will continue to work as a published illustrator and on photography for both in studio and on location as well as offer branding and graphic design services.

“While I had a fantastic time working at Motivate, I felt like the time was right to broaden my creative horizons,” says John. “I’m really excited about taking this next step and seeing what challenges lie ahead.”

Matt Fortune joins Jumeriah

Dubai-based luxury brand Jumeirah has appointed Matt Fortune to the role of Cluster Social Media Manager. With over ten years of experience, Matt previously worked with Motivate Publishing as Web Editor for What’s On magazine and most recently with ITP Media Group as Head of Digital Content for Time Out magazine. In his new role, he will lead the content and social strategy for hotels and restaurants in the brand’s Dubai.

In The Hot Seat – Helen Farmer

The Mothership’s Founder Helen Farmer tells TMN her views on the UAE’s ever-changing media landscape, offers advice to others looking to start blogging and talks about how she sees blogging evolving in the Middle East…

Name: Helen Farmer

Age: 33

From: Northumberland, UK

Current Job Title: I’m the Founder of parenting blog The Mothership (, as well as a freelance Writer, Editor and Radio Presenter.

When did you first arrive in Dubai?January 2007

Where did you work prior?In the UK I was in broadcasting, print and PR before moving to Dubai to work for Explorer Publishing as a Writer and Deputy Editor of their guide books. I then went to Motivate Publishing as Deputy Editor of What’s On, before launching and editing good magazine which I’ve now being doing since 2013.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?How nice everyone was. When I arrived it was even more social than it is now, with a lot of people from both media and PR going out almost every night.

Has your opinion changed much?
It has matured a lot on both sides, with fewer fresh graduates and more experienced talent. Now with cool, home grown titles, international magazines and bigger agencies, we’re starting to see more collaborations rather than the standard press release model, which is great. And the UAE is finally starting to catch up with digital.

Is blogging your full time job or a part time passion?
A bit of both! It’s a part time job, but a full time passion.

Tell us about your blog…
I started The Mothership last year, when my daughter was six months old. I simply wanted to connect with other new mums, through honest, real posts about the good, bad and downright mind-blowing truths of parenting in the UAE. I fear I might have put some women off pregnancy…

The Mothership then grew to become a Facebook page and recently I had the website rebranded and redesigned to make it more user-friendly, as well as having the capacity to include reviews, news and recommendations.

I now work with brands that I admire, have held workshops to support other working mums and have built a great community.

What’s the most rewarding part of blogging?
When another mum comments saying “Yes! Me too! Thank you.” Motherhood can be really lonely at times and I truly appreciate that moment of realisation and connection, when my followers share their own similar experiences.

Which international Bloggers inspire you?
I love Joanna Goddard from Cup of Jo, who mixes stylish inspiration with normal living and Sarah Turner from The Unmumsy Mum, who made it acceptable for mothers to admit that parenting isn’t always cuddles and candyfloss – it’s frustrating and often very messy.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a blog? 
Write from your heart and don’t try to be someone you’re not. I’m more high street than high fashion, couldn’t offer makeup tips to save my life and definitely shouldn’t be sharing recipes, but people understand what I’m really about. Start writing and you’ll find your tribe.

Do you accept press material from PRs?
After being in magazines in the UAE for more than six years I’m on a few press lists! I’ll always check out something relevant, but am more responsive when a PR gets in touch with a personalised suggestion for collaboration.

How would you rather be contacted?
I prefer email, and can be reached at

Describe yourself in five words…
Working mum. A bit tired.

What’s your most overused saying?
“Have you heard about that new… ?”

Five things you can’t live without?
Family, phone, giant CamelBak water bottle, BBC television and the beach.

How do you see online journalism/blogging changing in the UAE in the coming years?
If bloggers are monetising a site or social feed, there needs to be some form of regulation in terms of sharing their numbers and data. This is so new for the UAE, that some people (no names) mislead potential clients and it can have a negative effect on those who are more transparent.

What would be the next step for you as a blogger?
I’m planning to hold further events and workshops after the summer, as well as continue to work with more brands that are in line with my values and really benefit my followers.

TishTash welcomes new Account Manager

TishTash has welcomed Cherith Nicholl to the role of PR Account Manager. Cherith joins the agency from Motivate Publishing, where she was most recently Stylist and Lifestyle Writer for goodEmirates Man and What’s On. As Account Manager, Cherith will be working on the agency’s portfolio of beauty accounts such as Johnson’s, Neutrogena and Lipstick Queen.

“After working with TishTash on the other side, I am thrilled to have been invited into the family,” says Cherith. “I’m so excited to follow Natasha’s inspiring lead and forge even greater relationships within the industry.”

Motivate Publishing promotes Laura Coughlin

Motivate Publishing has promoted Laura Coughlin to the role of Associate Editor of What’s On Dubai magazine. Laura joined Motivate two years ago and most recently held the position of Deputy Editor of What’s On Dubai. In her new role she will be responsible for writing, editing and overseeing content for What’s On Dubai as a whole, as well as any supplements or guides produced under the title.

“I’m very lucky to love what I do,” says Laura. “I’ve always been a big fan of What’s On and feel privileged to work alongside such a talented team.”

EDGAR welcomes new Editor-in-Chief

Rob Chilton has joined EDGAR magazine, a LuxMedia publication, as Editor-in-Chief. Most recently Senior Editor at What’s On, Rob has worked in print and broadcast journalism for over 20 years in London, New York and Dubai. As Editor-in-Chief, he will lead the EDGAR team in producing the monthly luxury lifestyle title for men, as well as contributing to the magazine’s brand development, both online and in print. In addition, Rob will begin a new slot on Dubai Eye later this month as part of his new role with EDGAR.

“I have loved every minute of my time at What’s On,” says Rob. “The creativity, hard work and energy of the What’s On crew has been outstanding and I have huge admiration for them. I am sad to leave but extremely excited to join EDGAR, a magazine of which I am a big fan. I can’t wait to start working with the talented folk at EDGAR, both in print and online at”

Laura Coughlin promoted to Deputy Editor

Laura Coughlin has been appointed as the new Deputy Editor for both What’s On magazine and the digital version, Having joined Motivate Publishing 12 months ago, Laura previously worked across both titles as Features Writer.

In her new role, Laura will work alongside the title’s senior editors, designers and writers to create engaging and brilliant content covering subjects that range from music to restaurant reviews and adventure to new activities in UAE. Laura will also focus on making the number one go-to online portal for breaking news, upcoming events, and the latest in food and fitness in the UAE.

“I am extremely proud to be part of the What’s On team,” says Laura. “We will continue to bring practical, interesting and exciting content to ensure our readers love the emirates as much as we do.”

For further information, contact Laura Coughlin at / +971 (0)4 427 3097