Diverse, cluttered, complex, yet simple. Dubai is the regional HQ for companies, but the aim for an advertiser is to reach consumers across the Arab-speaking world, with a focus on Saudi Arabia. Sheik-owned TV and print dominate, and there is a lack of credible research. Managing growth and controlling inflation are the biggest challenges.
Media owners and agencies
The market is expanding rapidly and this creates a feel-good factor. But attracting and retaining talent is a challenge. The majority of media owners rarely attend a meeting armed with a compelling sales pitch document. It's coffee, cigarettes, small talk and a friendly smile, followed by "and by the way, I expect 50% revenue growth and 25% rate increases - a privilege I extend only to you, as you are my friend".
It is embryonic but growing swiftly. Web penetration across the region is only 21%, so the mass migration from print and TV has not yet occurred.
Culture and social scene
Dubai's population is 90% expatriate and going out is the norm. The city has a buzzing social scene. Brits are a minority in media, with the Lebanese and Indians in the majority. Everyone mixes easily and well.
The digital tsunami has not yet struck. Personal relationships are everything in the Arab-speaking world and, consequently, people in Dubai are better at managing and maintaining relationships.
One thing we can learn from Dubai
It shouldn't take 19 years and $8bn to build an airport terminal.
Chris Williams is strategic buying director of VivaKi MENA
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This article was first published on Media Week