The creative work, purpose and investment in the Middle East is impressive

The work coming out of Saudi Arabia and the investment they are pouring into major events is truly impressive.

The Romans' Paddy Hobbs at REMAP.
The Romans' Paddy Hobbs at REMAP.

Last week, I attended the creative communications festival hosted by the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) at the Fridge Warehouse in Al Serkal Avenue. 

The event brought together an array of speakers from different backgrounds to speak about various topics from authentic storytelling, purpose-driven marketing and new media platforms.  

Here are the three major takeaways I took from the festival: 

1. ‘Purpose’ is becoming front and centre of communications. There’s a real (and actually refreshing) openness about how being involved with social causes presents a huge real opportunity for brands. Comms professionals in the Middle East aren’t shying away from the potential positive business impact ‘Purpose’ can have but there’s also a desire to ensure they are answering legitimate societal issues and driving change. 

The general principle that it is incumbent on businesses to help make the world a better place appears to have been adopted across the Middle East with company leaders embracing the ethos that purpose drives corporate reputation. The GOSHxSuperhope campaign is a perfect example of this – utilising a highly respected charity to shine a real focus on Dubai in a unique way, while also showcasing market-specific insights.  

2. A lot of eggs are going into the Expo 2020 basket. And not just any eggs, golden eggs…the level of cash being put behind it is phenomenal. In the eyes of the region, the experience has to match up that of the 2020 Olympics, and it’s on a comparable scale: 192 countries are involved in total, and there’s a real laser focus and joint effort that, if the Expo is a success, the attributed positive eyeballs will take the region to another level in terms of being a destination for business.

3. The work coming out of Saudi is genuinely impressive. It’s not perfect but when you get up close, you can’t help be incredibly inspired by the comms work brands are producing in Saudi Arabia, as well as the competition between agencies to produce leading campaigns. As well bringing global, fun events to the region (I mean, Tyson Fury in the WWE is one of the greatest sporting moments of the year, surely), Saudi comms pros are not shying away from social issues. The #EveryonesKingdom campaign, an initiative designed to spark a conversation and bring forward a change in societal stereotypes towards people with disabilities, is about as bold and brave as it gets. The next few years in Saudi are going to be very, very interesting and I predict within the next decade if you don’t do work in the region, you won’t be a major global comms player.

Paddy Hobbs is an associate director at The Romans


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