"In Every city lies a story"
It was my first official visit to Amman, Jordan. I spent 36 intense hours in a new city that captured my emotions on so many levels. Although it was a short trip I learned a lot of this city. For starters, I had the chance to experience a new Arabian country and for the first time, an Arabian city that has captured my attention.
Amman is authentic - It’s people, its architecture, its scenery, its weather, its hospitality… intertwined with all the modern luxury of malls, brands and restaurants all played a role in making my experience a memorable one. Of course I have to thank the Harley-Davidson team, who made this trip even more enjoyable one as they gave me a crush course through Amman.
I landed in Jordan late afternoon. Picked up from the airport – I tried to capture the essence of the country from the drive from the airport to Amman. Exploring the roads, the people, their culture and feelings… there was a lot to see and learn.
As we entered the city, we were welcomed by an amazing bridge that looks like a Slingshot, as Joe Akkawi, Managing Partner of Paz PR Agency, who’s actually Jordanian living in Dubai, describes it.
In many ways I felt that Amman resembles Beirut in many ways. Its openness, the availability of alcohol in grocery stores, shisha hangouts, cofee shops, international chains like Starbucks around each corner and much more…
After absorbing the country briefly, we arrived to Shmeissani, where Kempinski Hotel in Amman is located – the place where I would be staying for the next two nights. You will find a short review of the hotel below.
After checking in, I took the advice of my taxi driver who picked me up from the airport, to go and explore the city on my own. I went to Mecca Mall, an impressively big mall that carries multinational brands such as Ace Hardware, Home Center, etc... The mall carries a wide variety of restaurants and a huge food court where I decided to have a quick bite.
As my partner, Anthony Rahayel, always suggests, we should try Burger King in every new city we visit. So it was Junk Food night, I had their Mushroom Swiss, which in my opinion was better and juicier than the ones I had in Dubai and Beirut.
After that, I went to City Mall, which I found much trendier and fresher, with different regional and international boutiques like AiZone, Virgin Megastores, Carrefour, Bank Audi, Zara, etc...
It was almost 11PM when I took a cab and asked him to tour me around the city. We passed by Mecca street where loads of shops from automobiles, furniture, restaurants, coffee shops are located, to Al Madina Street then Gardens before we headed back to the Shmeissani.
It was a lovely tour with a local driver, who explained to me how people are living Amman, how the city is open to everybody those wants to have fun, enjoy their time, come for tourism, and for those who are conservative or on a purely family visit.
I liked the way he narrated it. I was impressed by how open minded he is, leaving religions behind (though he didn't know my name or what I am) and focusing on life and the great things in it without being complicated or closed minded.
My evening ended with a great shisha at one of the Shmeisani public coffee shops. I enjoyed the rest of the evening admiring the Jordanians and the way they live, communicate and hangout...
I then, after went to the hotel for a good night’s sleep, before the big day with Harley-Davidson Jordan Ride Experience. It was an amazing event. (Click for full review and photos)
After the ride we were invited for dinner to a nice place called Cantaloupe on Rainbow Street, a posh area I believe that’s packed with numerous restaurants and bars. We went up on the rooftop to enjoy the lovely weather which was cool and breezy, looking over a 180 degree amazing view of the city, where the old archeological spots of Amman can be seen along with the city lights.
Again, I was impressed by the service and nice food. I had a mouthwatering Beet Salad with Goat Cheese - marinated beetroot served on a bed of mixed leaves topped with goat cheese mixed balsamic dressing, followed with a sea base char-grilled fish filet with a creamy lemon sauce and steamed fresh spinach and vegetables. To top things off, a celebration was in order after a successful day with Harley-Davidson. A bottle of KWV 2010 Sauvignon Blanc was cracked open and add more flavor to the evening. Everyone was having a good time, enjoying good wine and tasty food, an amazing place and of course great company with interesting subjects discussed and funny jokes shared.
My friend Claude Abry (Manahing Partner Harley-Davidson Amman), who took us on a quick tour of the city from the rooftop, expressed his love for Amman expressing how authentic still it is, without forgetting his lovely humor all night.
I have to say that Kempinski is a great hotel, situated in a great location suitable for business travelers. It serves great breakfast that includes a variety of food selections in an appealing presentation. The hotel boasts a nice restaurant at the pool where good food and drinks are served, as well as shisha. It’s a good choice at night to relax and enjoy the breezy weather. There’s also a nice sports bar located at the -2 level - a bar designed to chill and watch any sports games from football, Formula 1, basketball, etc...
Amman is a great city that I recommend that everyone visit at least once. My reasons are many and I think by now are obvious. The scenery, the weather, its historical touristic sites and much more. I’m definitely planning a longer visit next time as I didn’t have much to see or know about Jordan.
For full Harley-Davidson Jordan Ride, click here.
From what I saw in 36 hours, I was definitely impressed. Stay tuned for more reviews then from the city of Amman.
iPhone photo gallery.
Beirut, May 11, 2011 – The Lebanese chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA) elected its new board for the years 2011 – 2013. The committee will be headed by Naji Boulos and includes the following members: Naji Irani (Vice President), Georges Slim (Secretary General), Joe Ayache (Treasurer), Ralph Bacha, Ghassan Germanos, Claude Hajjar, George Jabbour, Hana Al Khatib, Kamil Kuran and Paul Sabbagh (members).
On the occasion of the IAA fiftieth anniversary (1961-2011), Boulos noted that this jubilee will be vital in the history of the chapter: “This year will be an opportunity for the chapter to honor Lebanese Advertising men who created and promoted the growth of the Advertising sector in Lebanon and Arab countries.”
A book chronicling the 50-year history of advertising in Lebanon is being prepared and will be published in November 2011. Several activities will be added to the busy schedule of jubilee.
Boulos also mentioned the challenges that the committee will be facing counting the situation of the outdoor landscape in Lebanon and the laws regulating advertisements of the tobacco sector and the pharmaceutical products.
Been almost a month that I want to write about this, but lot of things happening around preventing me to do so. Social media, online communities, community managers, social media managers, the SM revolution, how SM changing the Arab World regimes, and many other words that we hear or read on Twitter and blogs every single day.
Everybody wants to have the biggest fan page on Facebook, if they know a little more about SM, they would ask for a better presence on Twitter with much more followers, and if they want to think outside the box YouTube is what they will go for. This is the first time ever I think about the "X for Dummies" book series and if they did create one called "Social Media for Dummies". The answer is surely yes and not only one, but many (refer to the picture below). There is no shame to read this book whether you are a professional, or normal person who wants to know more about this big thing that everybody is talking about and investing load of money for it. If you are a professional that might be the best gift to give a client or a colleague, if you really love them and you want to gain their respect give them something that would help them more in what they are doing and where they are investing their money.
Clients really wants to be leading in their category, but most of them come and give you numbers that doesn't meet their industry audience penetration in the SM channel they ask for. 10,000 Twitter followers for a real estate brand in Lebanon, or 30,000 likes on Facebook. Let us go back to the basics and ask them. Do you need to be on FB or Twitter? Is your target audience active there? Can your brand be communicated on these channels? Why do you want to exist on SM? Did you know that social media is a very big place even bigger than FB and Twitter? Well the list is too long, the client should go back to the branding process, and see the brand character, voice, audience... Don't be laughing at me, yes branding, I know that most of these clients marketing people don't know what does MarCom word mean but that's why they come to us, for a real solution and our job is to deliver the right job by spending days and nights convincing them to go our way.
Time to talk about other SM channels, YouTube, LinkedIN, Blogs, Forums (yes web1.0 but what if you are in KSA, people spend most of their time there), Digg and many others. It is not how popular is the channel, it is about where are your audience, no? Before you spend all your money to build a fan page that one day the guys at Facebook might decide to close it or put restrictions on, start by building your brand website, blog or community site, than let us focus on the SM presence. Digital world gave you the chance to own the Media, so why don't you benefit from? SM is there to help you but it is not everything you need to do.
Agencies are working hard to cater to clients, big agencies are investing too much in this, small to medium ones are doing it right and wrong, some others didn't even think of it yet. The funny thing is that everybody wants to open a new business or claim that they have the department for that "Social Media", I (and many of you) pray that they are doing the right thing because it might revert back in a bad way on those who are doing it right, and maybe the whole industry in general.
We do know that big agencies/groups are doing many workshops, bringing different speakers to get their team ready to do the right job, but we don't really know if they are inviting clients to these workshops. I believe the smart ones are doing so.
In today's world, communication has changed, we moved from Linear to anything. We have different touch points with our consumers, it is not through mass media only, no we have to be everywhere but in the right place. So social media is part of it, yes it is a positive and good thing if we know how to use it and what to use it for, and might be just waste of time and total loss of money if we are still thinking about number of likes and FB pages only. No SM is made to get engaged with your consumers, create a certain relation between the brand and the consumer, make us better know what our consumers want, and because they are digital they make the relation and response faster. Marketers doesn't need to go sit in focus groups to know what is happening, but they are living it with the real consumers in the real time, they can act faster.
Well after all, SM made us live in a Chaos, and we need to analyze this Chaos first in order to know who are we talking to and where?
On as side note, though I am not into politics at all. What about that the Arab world revolution wouldn't happen without Twitter and Facebook? This is ridiculous, SM helped it happen faster, but this was being prepared since a long time. People made it go faster through SM channels, but never happened because of SM. SM was another communication tool to make it happen. We all agree on that now, so let us not give the credit to FB they don't deserve it, maybe Twitter do more.
Twitter simply is like water for me, I use it whenever I hold my phone (80% I use it via my iPhone TweetDeck application). It keeps me connected to the world as I want it "through those who I follow". If I get spammed or bothered I unfollow the person and it is over. Twitter lists are amazing, I can categorize people, If I want to read tweets about Dubai all I have to do is go to my Dubai list and see it all, Advertising I go to my advertising list, and so on with the other lists. That's amazing. Twitter gets me connected in a very customized way, in a simple way and just the way I want it. It has 1/3 of FB global number of users but it is much more effective. Why? As we all know it, Twitter is an open circle and FB is a closed one.
YouTube is a gold mine, personally I almost use it more than Google search today. Video Tutorial, Superbowl Ads, WWE previous match, Missed on a nice live talk show scene, Royal Wedding, Scene from a Movie, Live Concert footage for a favorite band, and many others... Rich media is the future of the web and nothing else. YouTube is the greatest invention on the web, hard to say it but with Twitter they constitue 60% of the web.
LinkedIN I believe in this tool a lot, recruited lot of talents for the agency through it (since 2008). The most corporate network, all professionals you need to know are there. You loose your address book? You want to stay up-2-date with your contacts? All other tools failed at it, LinkedIN could make it. Not only you can hire and keep track of your contacts, but you can engage with them, know what they are doing on a professional level, hear interesting stories. Groups are a good tool, get into a community of what you are interested in, or simply ignore invitations. One thing I hate when people think of it is Facebook and start sharing with us their silly news (how lame they are, and sorry if you are one of those).
Facebook is a place to hang out online when you want to have a coffee break or a good place for my little cousin who likes to play games. It is a nice network to get connected to friends especially if you are living abroad, with no doubt a very successful one having over than 600million registered users, but it is a trendy thing. I've been into the digital world trends in live messaging and live communication since 1994 (mIRC, ICQ, Message Boards, Forums...) all had their good times, people were using them and felt it is the future of communication than they disappeared. FB wont disappear (but nobody knows) but let us start from ourselves, in 2007 we joined the network, didn't stop updating our photo albums, spend lot of time on it adding school friends, colleagues and get our network bigger, how long are we logging to it these days? 20min per day, once every week or maybe once per month and I am saying that based on personal experience and other friends experiences. I know few that deactivated their accounts and some others do not have one. I feel that FB started loosing ground when they converted their wall to what it is today trying to be like Twitter but for a closed circle. I personally could live without it for almost a year but had to return just because to the nature of my business.
Blogging and MicroBlogging are something that we 100% own and control. Same as if you own a house, FB pages are like if you live in a rented apartment the landlord will come and kick you out anytime (or maybe just leave you there as much as it is paying off for him).
"Social Media: Its like riding a village bicycle, everyone's riding... but where are you going?"
Head of Engineering at Google, Ahmad Hamzawi, presented statistics on internet usage in the MENA region at the ArabNET.
- Google searches reached 100 million (4 billion is the global number).
- Youtube video playback reached 100 million (2.5 billion is the global number).
- Youtube videos uploaded per minute is 1 hr (35 hrs per minute globally).
- What are users doing online?
- The most visited website in the MENA is Facebook. Number 2 is Maktoob, Wikipedia follows.
- In Egypt, most searched for word was (games, written in Arabic) then Facebook then (pictures, written in Arabic)
- In KSA, Youtube (spelled in Arabic) was the most searched for and guess what it was in Lebanon ? The word Lebanon !
- The average age of users in MENA region is 25, a young society of users.
- The percentage of search queries coming from mobile devices is 13% and mobile queries have made a 200% growth last year, led by Saudi Arabia.
- iOS grew by over 1500% in 2010 and 50% of all mobile traffic from Symbian devices, and Opera mini Is number 2 browser outside GCC.
- Youtube launched personalized pages in 7 MENA countries and KSA is at the top 3 mobile playbacks in the world (#1 if compared to its population)
- There are 18.4 million Facebook users in the MENA.
- On Arabic content, there are 350 million Arabic speakers in the world which opens up huge opportunities in Arabic content.
- 54% of queries in the MENA are in Arabic, 70 % in Egypt and 80% in KSA
Hope that was helpful if you got more updates numbers please share them in the comments.
BeirutNightLife.com Raises the bar to compete with International Digital Medias with its brand new look
Beirut March 30, 2011: BeirutNightLife.com (BNL), Lebanon’s leading digital media announces the launch of a new version of its website. The new look is fresh, crisp, modern and most importantly uncluttered. The design has been well studied to help the end users easily open the site and browse with a number of new features.
Based on comments, recommendations as well as notes sent to BNL by users and clients, the company has revised the whole system of the site, in addition to generating news and editorial material on a daily basis by their four editors and contributors. The site’s rich content, in addition to new and enhanced features, now make the BNL an even more popular address for everyone seeking news related to Beirut, Lebanon Nightlife as well as Tourism.
Founder/CEO, Jean Ghalo explains: "Our end users are always on top of our list. We wanted to create a design that is easier and more accessible. We believe that with the new look and new features will help BNL deliver on its goal in offering consumers in Lebanon and its Diaspora a number one portal. We always try to raise the bar in the digital field and with this new design BeirutNightLife.com proved that it is the most professional digital media active in Lebanon and the Levant region, meeting all the international standards. We believe in competition and we are ready to compete with international digital medias in the local market, and within the cities we are expanding in, such as Dubai.”
Ghalo adds that, “Our main objective remains to always promote Lebanon as a brand and as a prime touristic destination."
Since its launch in 2002, BNL has built well over 12,000,000 dedicated readers, with unique users added on a daily basis. BNL is the most active media on social media networks and communicates with the right target audience, with over 1 million followers/video views on their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.
The launch of this new look is the first in a series of new developments for BNL this year. Over the coming months, the company will continue to introduce new content, features and products aimed at creating a one-stop destination for all your entertainment news on Lebanon.
- Increased Social Sharing
- Enhanced Photos and Videos
- Two Very Unique Products/Services
For further information about BeirutNightLife.com, please visit our website www.beirutnightlife.com
Twitter page: http://www.twitter.com/beirutnightlife
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/beirutnightlife
YouTube channel : http://www.youtube.com/beirutnightlife
Once an old friend called Barry Lok sent me an email with a full presentation, where I was really impressed by the intro and its been on my desk for a while now. Today, I decide to share it with you, as I believe it is a strong message that would keep every ambitious man going.
"There is a tide in the affairs of men;
which taken at the flood
leads on to fortune omitted, all the voyage of their lives
is bound in shallows and in miseries
on such a full sea we are now afloat
and we must take the current when it serves
or lose our ventures"
A big respect to this great old friend.
Well I've been cooking some good stuff in the kitchen lately. Eight years ago I had a big love to my city Beirut, and because of that I did start BeirutNightLife.com which is today a leading digital media in Lebanon and the Levant region, setting the standards for the industry and promoting the city that never sleeps at its best. BNL is my baby but it is big enough and I am missing playing with it like the old days, it communicate with millions of people, its the most familiar digital local brand, and everything we do is based on viewers and clients needs.
Today, I love and adore my City, and which city is that now? Dubai the city of life. I feel things, I enjoy things, I see things differently and among of all I adore things here. So why not to share it with the world? Starting from those who are living in the city from local to expats, to business people visiting the city, and among all the millions of tourists who plan to visit Dubai every year.
In 2002 the web was a great medium to communicate with the world, in 2011 the web is where the WORLD is living in. The 2008 world economic crisis is one of the reasons why my blog or future digital media should be up there. Yes people today wants to spend their vacation or entertainment money wisely, based on great and true reviews.
Ping Dubai to know what is happening in the city of life.
In the digital world you have to ping things to know if they are alive, how long they need to receive your message, if they are slow or fast, or simply how long they need to get back to us. So why not to Ping your city, and know what is going around, whether to know where is the best place to dine out, or a nice bar to hang out with your friends, or searching for a clubbing experience like no other, or simply to know details about exhibitions, lifestyle and fashion, or anything else related to entertainment, travel & tourism.
So let the journey of PingDubai.com begin, share with me your ideas, what you miss there, and ....
Waking up surrounded by white snow was the way to start day 2 of the Cristal de la MENA, and ever much more for a better start I had a short walk outdoor early morning for some fresh air.
Meeting point was the breakfast room at the Mzaar, it was funny how everybody looked like after the wild party at Montagnou, few hours of sleep, lot of alcohol in their bodies, and eyes barely opening. With the sun rising, I simply missed the first conference Cristal Club Session, had a cup of tea at the refuge with some cool people met up here.
12:15PM No death sentence in Media by Ziad Skaff, Group Research Director - Integral (Omnicom Media Group). Opened it with Connectivity and Convergence. A great point which he highlighted on that all medias are trying to revolutionize "TV is not dying, but trying to be an iTV", and Desktop is trying to be "Internet and Games". Media are moving from Mass to niche media, the opportunity to have deep communication is available today through social media (Twitter, YouTube and Facebook). A nice video showing how all media is changing and so consumers are. Consumers are not stoping of using any media but prioritizing the media depending on their lifetime needs and category. TV didn't lose but online gained market share, proved by showing how UAE and KSA are the most teach savy countries in the region and TV is still growing there. So no media is dying, but the mix has more stuff from media, creative, PR, digital and more. Ended up how content will be come more and more important, content is king and will remain king.
Well it was a fully loaded one, cannot describe it as it is, but the title make it clear, no media medium is dying but they are all revolutionizing.
1:30PM Lunch time, again meeting new people, having some talk and enjoying the food.
3:00PM Hervé Cuviliez, CEO Diwanee with a great presentation about branded content, how to use it, and move from creative media buying to content production and seeding. How to differentiate branded content, and not having it as spam (Spam costs $3 billion per year of electricity waste), but simply to be relevant, trustable and valuable content.
4:00PM Controversial creativity: award winning work vs great work. Moderated by Yasser Akawi, Executive magazine Editor in Chief who introduced the 4 speakers, Fouad Abdel Malak (FAM), Executive Creative Director Impact BBDO UAE, Ramsey Naja (RN) Chief Creative Director JWT MENA, Daniel Georr (DG) Chief Creative Director FP7 and Assaad Douaihy, Group Regional Creative Director Intermarkets.
First question was, Are you creative for the sake of the client or the sake of creativity?
FAM was clear that creative awards raises the standards, but lately for him he sees same ads everywhere in telecomm, airlines and banking, while brands like diesel are setting the trends. For him this debate is even over and closed. For me personally he opened the debate in a very aggressive way (this is how I noticed it). Thanks to Ramsey with his twisted character and nice humor which could let things go smooth
RN advertising might be facing issues of credibility while its progressing. Real creative means people loves it. There is effective creative like we see it on BBC and there are populist like OTV.
DG lot of people are being creative for the sake of it. Every agency has to be proactive, create things that never been asked for, and his answer to Fouad about scam used by agencies in awards "This subject was closed 2 years ago".
AD he started with a joke, and his answer for the main question was, Did extreme creative ads pass the test of time? While other non award wining ads did pass it. He didn't look that serious, though I don't know why he would be there? Was Intermarket that active for the past 3 years? No offense and for sure nothing personal, but wouldn't be nice to have him there with sarcastic smile.
RN being creative means that we have the privilege of which to talk with lot of people and though we hold a big responsibility towards people.
FAM with a lovely answer here to Assaad, test of time! We barely see campaigns living more than 3 years especially with the digital revolution. Though, not every communication makes everybody happy, at the end advertising do not try to convert everybody but a small group.
This debate was harsh, specially that some people from the audience just focused on the scam thing and made it non-sense. Thanks to Bechara Mouzannar, who took the microphone, sat down on the floor, and cooled down things, ending with a nice message to all young creative people, just go out and live your city because in life lies inspiration.
Personal opinion: That was the only overloaded conference, people were sitting on floor and queue reached outside the room, guys you could give us much better than this, we all came down to hear much more than an EGO CENTRIC debate. Want to know what a client said about it? I don't think I had to attend that conference because I am really disappointed by those who claim they are the top creative people in the region.
5:00PM Clients expectations for 2011 moderated by Nathalie Bontems, Beirut Operations Manager - Communicate Levant, hosted Antoine About Khalil Director Zain Group Corporate Communications, Mazen Fakhoury, MD Mindshare KSA and Antonio Vincenti CEO Pikasso outdoor.
Antoine told us about Zain corporate values, Heart, Belonging and Radius. He was pissed off that people they work with do not know their corporate values. As a client he wants his agency and people who they work with to give them love. He emphasized that they have targets and expectations but they do not have the expertise or know every single medium, so that's why they are hiring an MBU.
For Ramzi, mindshare work based on trust, corporation and mistakes. They gain trust of clients by understanding their company/brand culture, they work hand by hand to deliver the best they can, and sometimes they do mistakes, with their love to clients the relationship keeps on getting stronger. What can break a relationship between
clients and agencies in today's world? Procurement that's what clients are doing today, they want the best price just to save money and forget about the real long term planning, while this break the trust and gets the agency down.
Antonio introduced Pikasso, how they are leading the market, and how they did introduce the best digital outdoor systems in town, with high end security. He also emphasized about the problems we are facing in our local market, where unprofessionals are using LED screens to air TVCs or animated promos which is a threat for roads safety.
6:30PM Cocktail hosted by Mindshare at the Mzaar Intercontinental lobby.
8:30PM The award opening, introducing sponsors. Andrea verb GM Intercontinental Mzaar 2000 welcomed everybody and invited them to try the hotel in different times of the season.
Young Directors Cristal went to Karim Ghorayeb from Lebanon.
Promo / Direct Grand Cristal Exotica Valentine - Agency Leo Burnett Beirut
Cyber Grand Cristal Batelco - FP7 Bahrain
Media Grand Cristal Hp Touch of Ads - OMD/BBDO
Client of the year Batelco
Media Agency of the year OMD
I will have no comments on this, except it took too much time, and felt like everybody there won if not a grand cristal a category crystal.
10:30PM Dinner at La Fondue and some great time with the guys from MediaQuest (Alex and Peggy), Starcom (Talaat and the gangs), Yahoo! (Hussein who was on fire as usual and the gans), Mindshare, Leo Burnett, and cannot remember who else
Couldn't wake up on time early, just went up late for breakfast than went down to attend the most awaited
session, Wildfire by Leo Burnett, it was presented for the first time by 2 persons, Honorary Chairman and Advisor to the board, and the newly promoted Chief Creative Director Bechara Mouzanar Leo Burtnett MENA. It was crowded like the creative debate of Day2, lot of people were invited from different companies in town, to mention few May Chidiac and Tony Amine. The presentation was about how we deliver a message in the advertising world "Story Telling", and that we are all story tellers.
Lunch hosted by Leo.
Couldn't attend the afternoon conferences as I was stuck in few meetings up there, than the cocktail hosted by Yahoo! just before the 3 days regional event comes to an end in its 6th edition with the award ceremony gala diner (Film, Daily Press, Outdoor, Magazine, Radio, Corporate & Integrated Cristal Awards). The results can be found on BeirutNightLife.com Cristal de le Mena full post.
Caught a flu, spent the week end at home, and had to get Sunday off. Monday had no choice other than head to Dubai Airport Terminal 3, take the evening Emirates flight on the boeing 777, and head to the one and only location all the industry (advertising) people in the MENA region are going to, Mzaar 2000 Kfardebyen, Lebanon for the Cristal de la Mena awards/summit.
Landed in Beirut, and straight forward to the mountains. A weather storm was there, and going up there with a normal 2 wheels car was a wrong choice, as I couldn't make it up, and I had a special adventure of my own at Faraya. To make a long story short, after 1 hour I parked the car somewhere "safe" and got a ride to the Mzaar 2000.
Tuesday February 2, 2011 The Cristal de la MENA day one, I woke up early, had my breakfast and went down to pick up my passes and 3 days passes. It was a disappointing start as morning lectures were all cancelled (maybe because of weather or global political situation in the region, couldn't know). The day officially started with the sponsored lunch by MINDSHARE at the Refuge. It was a nice opportunity to meet with new people, exchange business cards and do some business developments.
3:00PM as per the new schedule, the one of the lectures I was waiting for "The digital revolution in the modern whorl" but again more changes and Ahmed Nassef VP/MD Yahoo! Middle East only showed up, while all others didn't and special Osman Sultan CEO - du the one who I was waiting for. Though Ahmed Nassef did a great job with his presentation, for me it was something I know but the way he did it was lovely, simple and easy to go and most important didn't get bored. He focused on content, content and content, how it is about the right content to develop a digital media and keep visitors coming back. A few words about Maktoob history, and the acquisition made by Yahoo! for 175million US Dollars. A little bit about traffic, and how the Internet blackdown in Egypt made their traffic drop, and so the situation made them temporary shutdown Egypt office with its 30+ employees. Ahmed focused on where they do stand in the market, the internet penetration we have in the MENA region with 64million users, expected to grow up to 100million by end of 2011. Back to where he started, how to have the right content, with full focus on that. How they do work on to have proper content through great partnerships with different global and regional medias. A little bit of their newly launched sections such as Helwa, OMG, and how they got a big number of traffic. He also highlighted on how Online video engagement in our region is bigger than Europe. How Yahoo! work? The formula was Science + Art + Scale. Explaining how content is king, he pointed about how they have over than 24 persons dedicated to choose main page content, 40+ editors for each section, and more. Ended up with a comparison of Newspaper circulation and Online, spend on newspapers and online, where they have almost same circulation where $2 billion spent on newspapers and only $100 million fo online. Finally, announced a new Yahoo! iPAD API which is planned to be launched in March in Barcelona.
4:00PM Jean-Charles Decaux for the Outdoor Media: innovation, modernity, impact and digital developments, it was nice, a bit boring for me, and simply a pure selling presentation about who is JCDecaux, how they lead global market and how they are the best.
5:30PM How the create a dream team? DEBATE. Presented by the humble man Roy Haddad Chairman & CEO - JWT MENA, Turkey, Pakistan /, attended by Gérard BOURGOIN, President of AJ Auxerre Football Club (Former President of the French Football League) / Rolland COURBIS, Radio speaker (former Coach of Olympique de Marseille and Girondins de Bordeaux) / Samir Ayoub Mindshare MENA. Nice and different point of views, was a bit boring, with 2 France footballer ended up defending how the National team got out from round 1 at the South African World Cup.
Time for the cocktail offered by Abu Dhabi Media Company at the Mzaar Intercontinental Mzaar, just before that we head to the official dinner sponsored by JWT at Le Montagnou where FP7 just had their dinner somewhere else, anyhow the dinner was lovely and ended up in a nice party.
What I have noticed?
Few agencies attended, most of them were creative, and for me Day 1 was just below expectations, let's hope for a better second day. Hope we get back the 3D presentation.
Were you there? would love to hear your comments.
What happened with me from 2006 to 20011?
When I started this blog back in 2006, I had more free time to write, read 100 of RSS feeds every day, and do some research.
Today it is not that easy anymore, with the boom of BeirutNightLife.com and being Lebanon's #1 digital media, the global economy crisis where we've been fighting hard to keep our Advertising business running in the UAE "Bob n Bab Ltd." the branding focused agency, preparations for B. Lebanon - Night Secrets Uncovered the book I've created and launched with my partner Anthony Rahayel in November 2010 and it is taking lot of time, as we are marketing it all over the world, preparing for the launch of DineOut Lebanon my new baby which taking lot of time and 2011 surely will be the launch year, and always working on new digital projects which are planned to be launched in 2011.
So I had the re-launch of BeirutNightLife.com with the full new branding, more focused on Advertising Business, and launched a personal book.
Why am I going to blog back again?
Because I love sharing information and being proactive keeps you busy, let you meet new people every day, have different experiences, and come up with load of news and information at the end of the day. So that would be nice to share it with you, whether it is a photo, a video, a tech or advertising news, or simply a special topic that I would love to feature.
When I will be publishing new posts?
Ok, let us start with one post per week, and if I could make it to have more will surely do
Why you should read my posts?
Well you shouldn't, but if you like to know what is going around me, whether in Dubai Media City, BeirutNightLife.com, The advertising world, or in a great restaurant where I enjoyed my dinner, or interested about my future projects. At the end of the day I live (or based) between Dubai and Beirut, so I got a lot to share.
Have you watched "City of Life"? I do highly recommend it, whether you live in the Dubai (UAE), or heard about Dubai or planning to come and live here.
That's all for the first post in 2011, see you up next where I will be blogging live from the Cristal de la MENA awards in Lebanon.