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Mo’ ads, mo’ jobs, mo’ money…so they say

Mo’ ads, mo’ jobs, mo’ money…so they say

The UAE spends the most in advertising across the Arab World. Does this mean things are looking up or just a cautious surge of optimism?

April 21, 2011 3:53 by



Taking a beating from the economic chaos that was 2009, the first half of 2010 in Dubai saw the outdoor advertising landscape change, literally. What was once littered with boastful ‘sold out’ signs for yet to be constructed property projects became a sea of blank billboards and mupis (the latter are those stand alone hoardings you see on the islands in the middle of the roads).

While the property sector continues to lick its wounds, the outdoor advertising world opened up to a variety of different clients—no doubt at the cost of heavy discounts from the media companies. Ads for banks, government PSAs and even kitchen cleaners start to pop up on billboards and other street ads. Though, let’s be honest, it won’t ever be like the in-your-face disruptive phase of 2008.

While we may never see those days again, the Pan Arab Research Company (PARC) has registers the UAE reclaim its place as the region’s top advertising market in Q1 2011, as reported in Gulf News.

With an overall spend of $349 million during that period, the UAE is said to account for 12 per cent of the overall Middle East ad spend during the first quarter. Egypt’s first-quarter tally came to $166 million, according to data from Pan Arab Research Centre (Parc).

We could suppose digital has something to do with this in more ways than one: from the point of view of how it helped spark the hype around the political revolutions and then from the point of view of how it has breathed new life to advertising.

Yes, there’s been a lot said about it, so much so that the words ‘Social Media’ and ‘e-whatever’ bring contorted looks on brand owners’ faces as much as it would the other ‘SM’ word or was there an ampersand in there? Anyway…

In fact, Google says digital advertising in the MENA region will reach $175 million this year. Last year this figure was $120 million, up from $30 million in 2007. Remembering of course that there are only 85 million people currently online today, and that’s out of the region’s total population of 337 million. And this number is purportedly climbing.

It could be digital or it could be the “cautious optimism” of advertisers, whatever it is, it’s good to hear that signs of life. This isn’t the first sign though, Kipp reported earlier this week, that the jobs most in demand in the UAE are those in the advertising, media, market research, PR and entertainment.

So we’ll most likely see a good bounce back in this market – if not a cautious one. In Dubai, particularly, the Metro is seeing uptake on advertising within the cabins and around its structure. Companies like Noor Islamic Bank, Nissan, RAKBank and Strepsils have been featuring their products on various parts of the Metro, from the emergency exit columns to the glass door panels in some stations.

It’s just a matter of time until the RTA allows TV commercials to run on those monitors that currently only play the RTA logo…again and again and again.



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