I had been working in London for almost 10 years and wanted a change, so I moved to Dubai five years ago. I had friends who moved out here before me and they could not believe the growth of the city.
Agencies and clients are extremely open to new ideas and the boom in industries such as real estate and banking has increased the market at an enormous rate. For example, the world's largest shopping mall opened last week and the world's tallest building will be completed next year. It has been incredible watching a city grow out of the desert. However, the one real problem is the lack of transparency with media owners and the huge lack of research - every Arabic newspaper in the United Arab Emirates is still unaudited, so relationships with agencies are vital.
Clients have to be extremely careful about running certain images. For example, alcohol advertising is banned and female models cannot be too revealing. However, this is slowly changing and the media is getting away with a lot more than it did five years ago.
The Middle East
Dubai is the head office for all agencies in the Middle East, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much money in countries such as Kuwait and Qatar that the media industry will naturally grow if and when their governments start to open their doors to foreign investment.
Culture and social scene
It is superb, with new bars and restaurants opening every week. We are lucky to have huge sporting events such as the Dubai Rugby Sevens and the Dubai World Cup, the richest horse race in the world.
One thing the UK can learn from Dubai
The UK could learn a lot about the way the Middle East operates in terms of client contact. Clients here want to be seen by the media and 40% of our business is conducted directly through clients.
- Andy Baker is sales director of 7Days, a freesheet published by Al Sidra Media and sister paper to the UK's Metro.
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