Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the countries to watch as emerging PR heavyweights, while Iraq, Syria and Sudan are also gaining a stronger foothold in the communications market, according to the managing director of the largest independent regional PR agency.
While the UAE remains a PR hub for the region, stronger emphasis on building a communications infrastructure by Middle Eastern neighbours is helping to give the region a bigger presence on the global PR map, according to Tariq Al Sharabi, managing director of Cicero & Bernay.
"The KSA is going through a complete overhaul, Egypt is retaining its position as a major market driven by creative industries, and the UAE is always growing and adapting to new trends and practices," said Al Sharabi.
"The region is an emerging one that is consistently developing and changing; ambition is important for industries to always be at their best.
"Concurrently, more and more corporations are subscribing to the intrinsic importance of PR, especially as the influence of powerful communication is constantly expanding as markets embrace growth and progress across new-age mediums.
"Elsewhere in the region, we also support upcoming markets and have a presence in each of Iraq, Syria and Sudan. We believe such countries possess great potential and are yet to showcase their capabilities when the dust settles."
Evidence of the Middle East’s growing influence, especially in the UAE, on a global scale is public relations professionals who have been receiving international awards and accolades, says Al Sharabi, adding that working in Dubai - where he was born and raised - makes him "proud to watch it become the global epicentre it is today".
"Being savvy in the industry requires that you be experienced and be prepared to tackle any challenges at any time," he said. "The general belief was that skilled personnel needed to be sourced internationally. However, things are fast changing.
"Today, there is a growing number of talented people in the region, but the challenge is finding the right candidates with the required skillset to match the demands of the industry. It may take time to cultivate a regional talent pool of professionals with all-round experience that spans the communication spectrum to embrace the creative, digital and PR fields, but it is being addressed as the demand increases.
"The region is an emerging one that is consistently developing and changing; ambition is important for industries to always be at their best. Concurrently, more and more corporations are subscribing to the intrinsic importance of PR especially as the influence of powerful communication is constantly expanding as markets embrace growth and progress across new-age mediums."
One competitive edge the region has over its Western counterparts in the rise of influencers, says Al Sharabi.
"Nowhere else in the world can one find a thriving influencer movement similar to the one here in the UAE and the region, underpinning the future of the sector and favourable position the region finds itself in."
Al Sharabi said the Middle East's young population also complements regional innovation and creativity.
"Being in the UAE allows us the space to be competitive in a sector that is no longer exclusively dominated by big-name brands," he said. "It is an inclusive market that is not dependant on the size of an agency but on how fast it can adapt and how much value it can add."
Click here to subscribe to the FREE Middle East comms bulletin to receive dedicated news, features and comment from the region straight to your inbox. Make sure you register for the site to access more than one story per month.
To submit a news, comment, case study or analysis idea for the Middle East bulletin, email Jennifer.Bell@haymarket.com