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Category: PRESS RELEASES

MENA’s $1billion PR industry set to double in value by 2030

  • Evolution of National Champion companies to global brands will catalyse the growth of the PR sector, observes opening panel of PRovoke MENA Summit
  • Region’s senior communicators present insights on the global success achieved by Emirates, Mubadala, ADNOC and Dubai Holding

Dubai, UAE; February 6, 2020: Fuelled by the rapid growth of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s National champion companies, the Public Relations (PR) industry in MENA is set to leapfrog in value to double its current size of $1billion by 2030,  was the key take out from the PRovoke MENA Summit 2020, held in Dubai today.

PRovoke MENA Summit, organised by PRovoke Media (formerly The Holmes Report), is part of a global series of events that explore the innovation, disruption and evolution of the PR industry that is redefining influence and engagement across the globe.

The Summit opened with an insightful session ‘From National Heroes to Global Brands: Why the Middle East has emerged as a PR Powerhouse,’ moderated by Sunil John, Founder of ASDA’A BCW and President, Middle East of BCW. The panel hosted some of the region’s most respected and influential communicators: Boutros Boutros, Divisional Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand, Emirates Airline and Group; Umayma Abubakar, Director of Internal Corporate Relations, Mubadala; Omar Zaafrani, Senior Vice President, Group Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility, ADNOC; and Huda Buhumaid, Chief Marketing Officer, Dubai Holding. The panelists explored how the regional PR landscape has grown, mirroring the transformation of National Champion companies such as Emirates, Mubadala, ADNOC and Dubai Holding into global brands.

Introducing the panel, Sunil John noted that the dramatic economic, social and political changes witnessed in MENA position the region as a strategic market for all global industries. The region will be at the centre of the world this year, with Expo 2020 Dubai, the G20 Summit meetings in Saudi Arabia, the upcoming World Bank IMF annual meetings in Morocco in 2021, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and other global events set to contribute to the regional PR industry’s continued growth.

“From US$500million a decade ago, the industry has upped its value to more than double that figure today and will further gain traction to double again by 2030. This will be driven by the growth of global brands that emerge from our region, especially from the two largest economies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” said Sunil John.

Highlighting the growth of Emirates, which today has a total communications budget of US$800 million, a team of 250 communications professionals, and working globally with 85 PR agencies, 100 advertising  firms, and 30 digital and events management companies, Boutros Boutros said Public Relations continues to be the “most valuable, effective and affordable communications medium, which will continue to grow in the coming years.” Boutros said the Dubai office of Emirates plays the role of a, “global inhouse hub to manage all the different agencies, with the strategy and policies originating here.”

Umayma Abubakar said successfully communicating the Mubadala story is also a reflection of the vision of UAE’s leadership. “Their goal of economic diversification has positioned the UAE as more than an oil and gas economy. There is a compelling need to tell our story to the world, to show that you have a lot to contribute and add value. In this, it was important to be transparent, and to be perceived as a responsible investor.”

Omar Zaafrani said the responsibility of national brands goes beyond their organisation and must represent a national perspective reflecting the UAE’s national branding and soft power. With a directional focus on making ADNOC, an oil and gas company, ‘cool’, Zaafrani said the challenge is to address the stereotypical stigma that is attributed to oil and gas sector players. “That takes courage, and a deliberate focus on humanising the story to make oil and gas relevant to the community.”

Dubai Holding’s Huda Buhumaid said there are interesting stories from this region and people are interested in knowing ‘how, why and when.’ “We are here ‘For the good of tomorrow’ and we change the landscape of Dubai through our different ventures. With over 400,000 people living in our real estate communities, more than 3 million people staying in our hotels, and with 11 business parks employing 95,000 people, we are promoting Dubai to the world – to the investors, tourists and residents – across various touch points.”

Concluding the session, Sunil John said communicating to a global audience is different from talking to a local audience. “The strategy needs to be truly global, cultural nuances understood with creativity playing a key role, supported by advanced data analysis. But innovative content and story-telling will continue to be at its heart.”

Arab Youth Survey wins Best Campaign in the Middle East at MEPRA Awards 2019

Agency wins 10 awards at leading regional PR Awards event, including 3 golds, 4 silvers, 3 bronzes

ASDA’A BCW’s pioneering thought leadership initiative, the 11th Annual Arab Youth Survey 2019, was named Best Campaign in the Middle East at the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) Awards 2019, held in Dubai on 20 November, 2019.

Titled “A Call for Reform”, this year’s edition of the Survey also won gold for ‘Best Use of Data and Insights’,and took silver for ‘Best Non-Profit/Humanitarian/Charitable Campaign’. The largest survey of its kind, the Survey has been providing insights into the hopes and aspirations of the Arab world’s most important demographic – its youth, since 2008. In 2019, the Survey addressed topics such as religion, role of government, mental health and drug abuse. This year’s findings have driven dialogue at special Survey events around the world, including at Chatham House in London, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC, and two events conducted by leading Washington DC publication The Hill.

ASDA’A BCW won a total of 10 awards on the night, including three golds, four silvers, and three bronzes, at a gala ceremony and dinner held in Dubai at the Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah. ASDA’A BCW’s work with real estate developer Marjan in promoting the New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Ras Al Khaimah’s Marjan Island won gold for ‘Best Real Estate or Construction Campaign’ as well as bronze for the ‘Best Travel or Tourism Campaign’.

The Agency’s work with Ford Middle East for its breast cancer awareness campaign “Warriors in Pink 2018: Stories of Courage” won silvers for ‘Best Healthcare Campaign’ and ‘Best Use of Influencers’ and bronze for ‘‘Best Non-Profit/Humanitarian/Charitable Campaign,’ while the campaign for the IPO of Network International won a silver for the category, ‘Best Financial Services Campaign’ and a bronze for ‘Best Use of Traditional Media (Consumer/Trade)’.

Sunil John, Founder of ASDA’A BCW and President, BCW Middle East, said: “We are delighted to be recognised for the work we do for our clients, and for our own thought leadership platform, the annual Arab Youth Survey. To win Best Campaign in the Middle East and be recognised at the MEPRA Awards is always special, as this is the forum in which we are judged by our peers in the region’s public relations industry.”

MEPRA is the Middle East region’s leading body for public relations and communication professionals and students. The MEPRA Awards provides an opportunity to communications specialist across the region to showcase their finest work and be recognised among peers. The 2019 MEPRA Awards saw more than 70 agencies and in-house communications teams compete in 47 categories.

Nine in Ten Young Arabs Concerned About Unemployment, 11th Arab Youth Survey 2019 shows

An overwhelming 89 percent of young Arabs expressed concern about levels of unemployment in their countries, according to a new finding from the 2019 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, unveiled at an event organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington, DC today.

The event, “Youth Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa,” was moderated by Brian Cheung, a reporter with Yahoo Finance, and featured a presentation of key findings from this year’s Survey – now in its 11th annual edition – by Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW, and President, Middle East, BCW, which included new data about young Arabs’ concerns over their careers.

Joining John on the panel were Her Excellency Sahar Nasr, Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Jihad Azour, Director, IMF Middle East and Central Asia and Syrine Chaalala, co-Founder and Managing Director, nextProtein.

As the largest demographic group of the Middle East and North Africa region, many Arab youth face severe hurdles joining the labour force, with World Bank research[1] indicating 30 percent of 18-24 year olds are out of work in the Middle East and North Africa – the highest unemployment rate in the world. The 11th Arab Youth Survey shows that the rising cost of living and unemployment are the top two concerns among Arab youth but indicates a marked divide in opportunity between young Arabs living in the oil-rich Gulf states and their peers elsewhere, especially when it comes to expectations of their governments to address issues that matter to young people.

For example, while 97 percent of youth in UAE are confident their national government has the capacity to battle rising unemployment, 80 percent of youth in Iraq have no confidence in their governments to do the same.

Young Arabs in the wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states also look to their governments as a source of employment. Seven in 10 (69 percent) of youth in the GCC want to work in the public sector – while those elsewhere are more amenable to private sector jobs, with just four in 10 youth in North Africa (40 percent) and the Levant (39 percent) preferring government jobs.

Presenting these findings to the panel, Sunil John said, “As a developing region with some of the fastest growing economies in the world, Arab youth cannot afford to be left behind. Now, more than ever, the region’s young people require the support of their governments if they are to realise their potential and take up the productive, fulfilling and rewarding careers which are needed to drive the economies of the region to greater heights.”

Addressing the audience at the event, John said, “We are privileged to present our research at the prestigious IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings, and to share actionable insights with international governments and other decision makers. The Arab Youth Survey is for a platform for dialogue and I hope that the dialogue we spark today can be the basis of policies and actions that can help change the future for Arab youth.”

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group Annual Meetings bring together financial experts, government representatives, private sector executives, academics and other civil society organisation representatives to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

The Arab Youth Survey is the largest study of its kind into the region’s largest demographic: its youth. Every year, ASDA’A BCW generates evidence-based insights that provide governments, the private sector, media and civil society with critical information and analysis to inform decision-making and policy formation and build greater awareness of Arab youth.

The full survey data is available at www.arabyouthsurvey.com.

 

 

[1] International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database, “Unemployment, youth total (% of total labour force ages 15-24) (modelled ILO estimate)”. Data retrieved in September 2019 by The World Bank

ASDA’A BCW makes strategic hires for subsidiary companies Proof Communications and PSB

Leading Middle East PR agency ASDA’A BCW has increased its expertise with two new strategic hires for its subsidiary companies Proof Communications, the digital, data and design specialist, and PSB, its dedicated research company. The move comes as its Power of Three strategy continues to reap dividends by delivering a full service, integrated communications offering to clients throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.

Stefanie Spanos joins Proof Communication as Associate Director – Digital, bringing with her 12 years of experience from Canada, UK, and the UAE. Spanos was instrumental in launching the world’s largest blockchain festival  in Dubai and taking the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund to market. She has previously worked with Edelman and is an expert in digital analytics and data in the communications and PR industry.

Michael Hodgkinson, who joins as Senior Consultant with PSB Middle East, is experienced in international communications and strategy research with high-profile firms in the Middle East and Europe. A graduate in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Oxford, Michael has led the GSK global delivery team at PSB as well as delivering numerous corporate and government projects in the Middle East.

Sunil John, Founder of ASDA’A BCW and President of BCW Middle East noted, “Public relations in MENA has always required a more nuanced approach than most other regions. We’re situated in one of the fastest advancing economies in the world, where digital communication and data are increasingly in demand. ASDA’A BCW extended its operation a few years ago to embrace a Power of Three strategy, including digital and data expertise through its wholly-owned subsidiaries Proof Communications and research through PSB. We are fortunate to have brought Stefanie and Michael aboard to strengthen our offering in these important sectors.”

Proof Communications began as the digital and branding division of ASDA’A BCW and grew into a fully-fledged digital and design agency that caters to clients across the Middle East. Proof’s most memorable campaigns in recent years include “We See Genius in Every Child” for GEMS Education as well as the multiple-award-winning Welcome to the Driver’s Seat Campaign by Ford Middle East, which marked the historic move to allow Saudi women to drive for the first time.

PSB specialises in custom research and analytics worldwide that uses a deep understanding of people, science and business to create human insights that inspire leaders to make more informed decisions with confidence. It has provided strategic guidance in sectors such as healthcare, technology, blue-chip corporate, financial, entertainment and public sectors in more than 100 countries. It is also a member of the BCW Group of companies, which is part of WPP, a creative transformation company.