Initiative's Tim Baker enjoys fast pace in Dubai

Tim Baker is general manager of Initiative in Dubai.

Dubai: competitive and liberating
Dubai: competitive and liberating

Why did you choose Dubai?
I was working in London for Initiative six years ago when we lost a large account and I was offered relocation. Having visited Dubai for an interview, it felt like the right place to be.

How are you finding it?
Superb. As Dubai is an emerging market, things happen so quickly. When I joined, we had two small offices. Now we're a major player with seven offices and 100 staff.

What's the media environment like?
Fast, competitive and liberating. A few years ago, media agencies were pitching continually because of the number of brands entering the market. The economy has slowed, but the competition is still fierce and clients are more ROI-conscious.

How proactive are media agencies?
Very. In a market stretching from Morocco to Iran, they are constantly chasing new business. The oil wealth brings opportunities to tap into vast budgets and run global campaigns.

How developed is digital media?
It's still in its infancy, but catching up quickly. Consumers have embraced digital and many Saudis moved straight to mobile as their favoured TV viewing device. Mobile penetration is more than 200% and you often see Saudi locals trading stocks on their phones.

Culture and social scene?
More than 80% of the United Arab Emirates population are expats, which creates a mix of social and culinary influences, but it's a very new country, so there's an absence of historical architecture. However, Abu Dhabi is investing heavily in the arts and cultural scene.

Main differences in media?
There are fewer restrictions on what you can do, and the systems and processes are still evolving. There are fewer restrictions on mobile, so expect rapid growth in mobile and digital advertising in the near future.

One thing we can learn from Dubai?
If you've never been to an Islamic country, you are missing out. Don't believe what you read in the papers.

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