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

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