Thursday, 28 November 2013

The calm before the Expo storm

The calm before the Expo storm

It is with a sense of cautious optimism that I look ahead to the next few years of growth in Dubai. The city’s leaders undoubtedly have the vision and resources to deliver an Expo that could be the best yet – but does this city have the skills?

The amount of change that Dubai is going to experience during the next seven years cannot – and should not – be underestimated. Several weeks ago Dubai announced that it has earmarked $129 billion for infrastructure development between now and 2030 and a significant portion of that will be invested in DWC, the site of Expo 2020.

The pace of growth will have a myriad of knock-on effects across every aspect of Dubai’s economy. There will be the need for many more hotels to support the growth in tourism. The city will need more real estate – commercial, retail and residential. The number of tourists is set to double between now and 2020, which means the city needs to rapidly ramp up the amount of retail space. Some commentators suggest that Dubai needs to double the number of malls that it already has.

PR and advertising agencies are going to become inundated with RFP’s. Anybody in communications in Dubai knows this. We are all looking forward to strong growth, bigger budgets and a slew of exciting projects to work on. It will not be long, however, before hiring managers are pulling their hair out. There always has been a fight for the very best talent in this region, particularly in corporate communications.

PR firms have the greatest challenge because westerners – primarily the British - dominate the PR industry in Dubai. There is likely to be an immediate demand for Account Managers – the grafters who get the coverage and write the stories. Over time we will see a need for more senior people as agencies struggle to handle the growth that their agencies are experiencing.

The good news is that there will now be many more opportunities here in Dubai than in the UK, which means we are likely to see an upturn in applications. However, if London’s economy starts to boom again – and there are signs that it may well do – then this will make Dubai’s job even harder. It is good news for those that do decide to come here – but PR agencies will need to work hard to attract and retain the very best people.

Winning Expo 2020 is excellent news – but servicing it isn’t going to be easy.
Justin Kent - Managing Director

Monday, 4 November 2013

Testing times for hiring managers

Testing times for hiring managers

Hiring a new PR practitioner is difficult. Good PR’s are great at telling a story (well, they should be) so it has always been important to conduct robust interviews that put candidates through their paces. That’s what good recruitment consultancies do and it should be how they earn their fees.

Getting it right is, however, more important now and arguably more difficult. Supply and demand dictates that candidates try harder and tight recruitment budgets mean that organisations are more cautious than in the boom years. Making a mistake is costly. Filtering through a recruitment consultancy that you trust is more important than ever before but relying on interviews is not always enough. Personality profiling is increasingly seen as an integral part of the hiring process.

Candidates often don’t like these profiling processes. There is a natural fear of ‘failing’ what is often thought to be a test. Well, they aren’t tests. They provide a highly accurate assessment of what makes the person tick: how do they work as part of a team? What motivates them? How do they respond to various management styles? Do they get easily bored? The results of these profiles are eerily accurate. And they are becoming increasingly invaluable in putting together teams and hiring the right kind of person for the job. 

Justin Kent - Managing Director

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

All eyes on Qatar

All eyes on Qatar

Qatar is the richest nation on the planet. It processes fifteen percent of the world’s gas reserves. Its government has been aggressively investing in infrastructure and is working towards diversifying its economy. It is experiencing a boom in construction that is providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of expat workers from around the world.

In July, international property services company DTZ issued its second quarter review of the Qatari real estate market, concluding, "Robust economic and population growth continues to drive demand for real estate across all asset classes."

This is superb news for the PR industry. All of the world’s major PR firms have their sights and investment budgets set on Qatar. London’s Blue Rubicon has launched its first Middle East office in Qatar this year and the majority of the established GCC players are there. The opportunities for PR practitioners are plentiful. Those with expertise in natural resources or corporate and financial PR should be thinking about Qatar as a career move. The nation’s success in winning the World Cup bid for 2022 and its focus on investing in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors means that there is also an increasing demand for consumer PR practitioners too.

Justin Kent - Managing Director

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Dubai deserves Expo 2012

Dubai deserves Expo 2012
For months the phrase ‘Expo 2020’ has been seen on street corners, highway billboards and inside malls around Dubai.

The World Expo is one of the world’s biggest events in terms of its ability to deliver a lasting economic and cultural impact on the host city. Dubai is a front-runner for the World Expo 2020, competing against Brazil, Russia, Thailand and Turkey.

There is a strange feeling in Dubai that it will win. The city is in great shape – it has a truly world-class infrastructure. It has been ranked as having the 34th best infrastructure in the world by the Mercer City Infrastructure Ranking – the only Middle East city to appear in the list. It beats Madrid, Melbourne, Geneva, Brussels and many more. In 2013 the government of Dubai allocated 35 percent of its budget for further infrastructure investment. The economy and recent surge in jobs growth also puts Dubai in pole position.

The government of Dubai announced in December 2012 that it would increase public spending by six percent in 2013 whilst also bringing down its deficit to below 0.5 per cent. The figures are impressive. Besides the statistics, the fact is that Dubai ‘feels’ right. It has a strong message of optimism. It is attracting world-class talent, foreign direct investment and it is increasingly seen as a major player in the development of renewables. It is a force to be reckoned with.  The fact that the sun always shines also helps.

Dubai has worked hard to shake off its economic troubles. It has rebounded quickly. It’s a superb place to live, a safe place to raise children and a place that offers better job security than the struggling economies of the west. Dubai is a rare find in these difficult economic times – confident, established and growing at a steady and sustainable rate. It’s a great place to build a career and it deserves to win the Expo 2020.
Justin Kent - Managing Director

Monday, 2 September 2013

The key to economic success? Sunshine

"It’s the economy weather, stupid."

I have the key to economic success. Whilst George Osborne hurries around Downing Street pulling levers and trying to squeeze pennies from taxpayers, it has suddenly become patently obvious to me what the answer is: sunshine.

After several miserable summers dogged by constant rain, grey skies and consistently negative economic news; all of a sudden the UK’s economy has jumped by 0.7 percent in Q2 of 2013. Is it pure coincidence that the UK has had its best summer for years and now house prices are skyrocketing and unemployment is dropping? Look back to the winter of 2009 – the start of the recent cold winters – the economy nosedived by 0.5 percent. So my theory scientifically is: good weather = GDP+. Bad weather = GDP-.

Economists and the media also support my theory. The Guardian recently reported that retail sales grew by 1.1 percent as shoppers ran to shops in their thousands to buy arm loads of sun cream and bikinis. Now, if we could only create a new bikini-making industry we could create thousands of jobs and really get the economy moving. One thing is for sure – the gorgeous British weather is already creating more jobs in the world of PR!

So there it is – it’s official. The key to economic success is sunshine. Now I just need to work out what is happening with the weather in Greece and Spain…

Tim Court - Director