Yalla! April/May '23 - The magazine for Arabian Gulf business owners and entrepreneurs

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The Founder: Dan Bolton

BE. A Dubai-Based Experiential Agency




APRIL - MAY 2023 | mecs.design
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The British Business Group Dubai and Northern Emirates is a membership organisation that supports companies and individuals from the UK with existing business interests in the region and those new to the UAE. Our membership consists of British-owned, Dubai-based companies, UK registered organisations, UK passport holders and brands that support British business.

Through a considered and strategic calendar of events, the BBG ensures high quality networking opportunities, market knowledge sharing, valuable engagement opportunities and exclusive experiences for our members.

The BBG provides an ecosystem that goes beyond Dubai, to the wider GCC and through the British Chambers of Commerce’s Global Business Network reaching and providing international exposure and opportunity for our members and stakeholders.

For more information, please contact the BBG business team: info@bbgdxb.com

Email: info@bbgdxb.com

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Ramadan Kareem everyone, and welcome to the April-May edition of Yalla! magazine. Ramadan is a special time for Muslims around the world, a time when life in the GCC adopts a very different pace. As such the exhibition schedule is mostly empty this April, with events only getting underway again after Eid. In May there are 23 UAE exhibitions to look forward to, with mobility being one of the big themes.

Aliya Rajah shares her thoughts on Ramadan, what it means to her, and how she adapts her business accordingly.

Marianne Page speaks to Freddie Pullen about the power of systems in small business, on the Into The Desert podcast.

We break down one of the biggest rebrandings globally, unveiled by Pepsi on March 28th. And Dan Bolton shares his journey into experiential marketing.

Dan is the Founder of the Dubai-based events agency, Be Experiential.

We look at the 6 main inflation-beating strategies you can apply as new figures show inflation in Dubai hit 4.9% in February.

Rasha Muhrez addresses the urgent need for humanitarian support in Syria and Türkiye. She writes about what Save The Children are doing there in the wake of the deadly earthquakes on February 6th.

Corina Goetz brings you a roundup of Arabian Gulf news, facts and events. And Katy Holmes recaps an all-female business trip to Riyadh, organised by the BBG and CBD.

We wrap up with a look at our portfolio, with a landmark VIP brochure project delivered for Rakaa Properties in Saudi Arabia.

Wishing you a wonderful Eid al-Fitr holiday and an industrious May.

email: hello@mecs.design

Website: mecs.design/

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/ mecsdesign

Facebook: facebook.com/mecsdubai

Instagram: instagram.com/ mecs.design/

Twitter: twitter.com/mecsdesign

Marisa Manns Keith Manns Marcus Manns
CONTENTS Events Features 6 Upcoming TRADE SHOWS 8 Profile: ELECTRIC VEHICLE INNOVATION SUMMIT 2023 FACTS + STATS 10 DOING BUSINESS IN RAMADAN ALIYA RAJAH 14 SYSTEMISE YOUR BUSINESS THE MCDONALD’S WAY 20 PEPSI REBRANDING 22 THE FOUNDER DAN BOLTON BE EXPERIENTIAL 28 OVERCOME INFLATION Yalla! newsletter is produced by Middle East Creative Services (www.mecs.design), a trading name of Global Printhub Ltd. Company Number 12766881. Registered in England & Wales. 20-22 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7GU. RELIEF WORK IN 34 GULF NEWS ROUND-UP from Corina Goetz 39 SAVE THE CHILDREN’S EARTHQUAKE RELIEF WORK LDREN’S EARTHQUAKE Work 50 OUR WORK VIP BROCHURES FOR RAKKA Properties 52 IN THE STUDIO


MOBILITY 15-16th terrapinn.com/exhibition/ mobility-live-me

INTERNATIONAL APPAREL & TEXTILE FAIR 1-3st May/ internationalapparelandtextilefair.com

WORLD UTILITIES CONGRESS 8-10th May/ worldutilitiescongress.com

THE ABU DHABI SCHOOL & NURSERY SHOW 29-30th April/ theschoolshow.ae

02 / 23

ICOPLAST 5-7th May/ icoplast2023.com


AIRPORT SHOW & GLOBAL AIRPORT LEADERS FORUM 9-11th May/ theairportshow.com

PET WORLD ARABIA 5-6th May/ petworldarabia.com SEATRADE LOGISTICS 16-18th



GETEX SPRING 2023 26-28th April/ mygetex.com

MOBILITY LIVE 15-16th May/ terrapinn.com/exhibition/ mobility-live-me

MIDDLE EAST RAIL 15-16th May/ terrapinn.com/exhibition/ middle-east-rail

THE ROADS AND TRAFFIC EXPO 2023 15-16th May/ terrapinn.com/exhibition/ roads-traffic

EXPO CULINAIRE 15-17th May/ expoculinaire.com

35TH IATA GROUND HANDLING CONFERENCE 2023 16-18th May/ iata.org

ABU DHABI INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR 2023 22-28th May/ adbookfair.com

SEAMLESS MIDDLE EAST 23-24th May/ terrapinn.com/exhibition/ seamless-middle-east

PRECISIONMED EXHIBITION & SUMMIT 23-24th May/ precisionmedexpo.com

INTEGRATE 16-18th May/ integrateme.com

PAPER ARABIA 16-18th May/ paperarabia.com

PRECISIONMED EXHIBITION & SUMMIT 23-24th May/ precisionmedexpo.com

THE HOTEL SHOW 23-25th May/ thehotelshow.com

INDEX EXHIBITION 23-25th May/ thehotelshow.com

CABSAT MIDDLE EAST 16-18th May/ cabsat.com

SEATRADE MARITIME & LOGISTICS MIDDLE EAST 16-18th May/ seatrademaritime-middleeast.com


ELECTRIC VEHICLE INNOVATION SUMMIT 2023 29-31st May/ evinnovationsummit.com



Electric Vehicle Event / 29th - 31st May / adnec.ae/en/eventlisting/electric-vehicle-innovation-summit-2023

As is true for many emerging technologies, vehicle electrification is experiencing rapid innovation. The Middle East & Africa Electric Vehicle Market is expected to witness substantial growth & business opportunities over the next decade. EVIS is unique by integrating inter-related technologies at one event, allowing attendees to network across the value chains and exploit new opportunities at the intersection of EV technologies.

150 speakers

200 + exhibitors

1,000 + delegates


100 + vehicles on display

150 + speakers

50 + participating countries

6,000 + attendees


Doing Business in Ramadan

“The holy month of Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar. It is a month of fasting, worship, service, gathering and spiritual development.” Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and a month when Muslims are required to abstain from eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset.

This can come as a shock to those experiencing their first-ever Ramadan. Some people express surprise and wonder, ‘how is that even possible?’ as a physical feat. I too would probably have a similar response myself. But as someone who observes Ramadan, I would say that you’ll be surprised at what you can do when you really put your mind to it. Ramadan is so much more than not eating or drinking. It’s a spiritual month, or as I like to see it, a ‘reset’ where we become so much more conscious of our thoughts and behaviour. It’s a month when Muslims exercise mind control over their urges, which results in a higher level of self-awareness, patience and self-discipline. All highly beneficial characteristics to master.

It is believed that the reward of good deeds is multiplied in Ramadan, and it is a time when priorities change for many. Muslims make a conscious effort to spend more time with family, in prayer, doing charity work, and avoid activities that might detract from the spiritual experience.


what is the impact of this when it comes to work, especially for a business owner?


According to the economist, Samer Sunnuqrot, “The productivity of employees declines in the holy month by 30-50% as a result of shorter working hours and the change in behaviour.” So it is to be expected that business may not be carried out as usual. Muslims spend extra time in prayer during the evening hours, and then wake up for Suhoor (the morning meal before sunrise), affecting the quantity and quality of sleep. Energy levels amongst those who are fasting will be lower, impacting performance and outcomes. You might want to consider changing working hours to accommodate this. The luxury we have as self-employed business owners is the ability to be more flexible with our schedules. Some businesses thrive during Ramadan ( i.e. the F & B sector ), whilst others can experience a slowdown due to the nature of their business.

Every business owner is different, but for me personally, I choose to wrap up meetings by 4pm latest during Ramadan - as I know my energy and focus significantly decrease after that. Some days I schedule meetings and coaching sessions later in the evening, after Iftar. This also suits the clients and colleagues I have who are also fasting and would prefer to meet when they have more energy and focus. Employers are also required to shorten the working day of their employees, with many finishing by 2pm. This can pose a challenge to the many businesses that still have to meet the demands and expectations of their clients in a much shorter time frame.

In the buildup to this Ramadan, many of the business owners I spoke to were ready to embrace this time of year. Most are long-time residents who talk of, “discussing/starting this project after Ramadan” - as there is a general understanding that people’s priorities may change during the month. Business will be slower, which will then be followed

by the Eid holidays. So they’re happy to hold off on pitching or embarking on a new project until working life resumes as normal.

As Ramadan is a month of introspection, patience and self-discipline, developing a change in perspective is key. While your initial response may be to experience stress or anxiety at the thought of your business potentially becoming impacted by Ramadan, you can choose to focus on the opportunity it brings. Many Muslims use it as a chance to step out of their day-to-day and reflect more on what truly matters in life beyond work and the demands of the modern world.

And just because certain parts of the economy may not be running as usual, it doesn’t mean that the month can’t be productive. Ramadan can be a great time to focus more on planning, reflecting, and catching up on important admin tasks that may have been neglected. If anything, being out of the normal rat race can be a highly effective time to zoom out and see the bigger picture. That can be really hard to do when you are so caught up in the day-to-day running of your business.

I’m a huge fan of starting small and setting 1-2 goals and then building on it from there. Because it’s by starting small we feel accomplished and therefore motivated to do even more.

Ramadan is a unique and individual experience for each person. I’ve decided to dedicate the month to improving my knowledge, prayer, decluttering various areas of my life, and being conscious about how I can give back more.

‘Wishing you a blessed month of Ramadan.’
Aliya Rajah


In the holy month of Ramadan, your support can help bring hope and assistance to those who need it the most: children affected by the earthquake.

Systemise your business the McDonald ’s way

Into the Desert Podcast recently had the opportunity to interview Marianne Page, a former executive at McDonald’s with 27 years of experience in senior management. Marianne is an award-winning leader and developer of high-performing teams. In conversation with host Freddie Pullen, she explains how small business owners can build simple systems and teams that will free them from the day-to-day of their operations.

Love it or hate it, McDonald’s is without a doubt an incredible success story. It’s mesmerising that you can go to a McDonald’s here in Dubai and go to one 3 or 4000 miles away in Bath or London, and it’ll be exactly the same. This is a business that has innovated radically, expanded globally, and continued to go from strength to strength since 1955.

McDonald’s is a shining example of the American Dream. From its humble beginnings as a single drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino, California, it has grown exponentially to become an international icon with over 38,000 locations worldwide. Over the years, McDonald’s have adjusted their menu and adopted new technologies to provide a more enjoyable experience for their customers. They’re


not afraid to push boundaries and introduce daring new products like the McRib or McFlurry. Clearly, McDonald’s isn’t just surviving - it is thriving. Despite daunting competition, shifting industry dynamics, and technological change, McDonald’s continues to show how a business can rise and succeed regardless of time or market trends.

It’s mesmerising that you can go to a McDonald’s here in Dubai and go to one 3 or 4000 miles away in Bath or London, and it’ll be exactly the same.

Having grown-up within McDonald’s and spent her entire career at the company, Marianne left the business after 27 years. She then took a position with the UK’s National Blood Bank, where she saw the potential to bring change and give back. It was only then that she fully appreciated the power of the systems and the culture that McDonald’s creates.

While the blood service were hesitant to make big changes, that realisation took her focus in a completely new direction. Systems were what made McDonald’s exceptional. Systems made McDonald’s

a byword for consistency and reliability, no matter where they operate. And systems underpinned the high-perfomance teams and can-do culture she knew so well.

Marianne quickly saw that very, very few business are run like that. And her mission ever since has been teaching small business owners how to create systems and teams the McDonald’s way.



FIRST, there is a clearly defined way to do everything. Having only one right way to perform a task creates not only concistency, but interoperability among team members and locations. It gives people transferable skills. Everybody can perform a multitude of jobs to the same required standard

SECOND, there is training. It’s one thing to decide the one right way to do everything, and another thing to implement properly. Having your operating manual nicely prepared and filed away isn’t going to help a great deal. The training at McDonald’s starts from Day 1 and never really stops. Once you are trained, you’ll be training others the same way. You are taught to replace yourself. You constantly acquire and transfer skills.

THIRD, you must give people proper feedback. McDonald’s has a very clear and structured performance management system. It isn’t so much about disciplining people, as it is about providing the feedback people need to improve and progress in the company. Nobody is at a standstill at McDonald’s. There is a contant drive for improvement.


We can see it in the introduction of new product lines, or the introduction of new technologies. The introduction of table service reduces labour-cost (an important metric for franchisees), with fewer tills needing to be manned. While the use of order screens has led to increased order values. People are far less self-conscious about ordering 3 Big Mac’s from a machine than they are face-to-face. Those big decisions are all backed by data, which of course, is feedback.

This all creates an incredibly strong culture, one that only became apparent once Marianne had left the company. There is a unity and camaraderie there, where everybody works for the good of McDonald’s. That spirit helped the company survive multiple unforeseen crises during her time there, including the outbreak of Mad Cow Disease and the 2008 financial crisis.

She has found very few small businesses have one right way of doing things defined and documented. Even fewer have trained people to follow them. And zero have the performance management in place to really benefit from those two other systems.


Teaching this to small businesses is Marianne’s focus today. And she has 2 tips for those looking to systemise their business. First understand the customer journey and ask how you can make it simpler, more logical and more concistent. Second, ask yourself: if you could rehire all of your team tomorrow, how many would make the cut?

Most business owners initially believe that their team is fantastic. Then you can watch them react as that one person comes to mind who doesn’t quite fit with the culture of the business. Those staff members use up a disproportionate amount of the owner’s time and resources, and they have a knock-on effect that drags your team back. McDonald’s has this strong culture that pushes you to improve. Although it can be slightly unforgiving, it does dispense with those people who don’t align very quickly.

Getting the right people is so important to building high-performing teams. Some applicants can look great on paper but won’t fit the business properly. Hire for your values first and foremost. Stick to them and don’t settle for just anybody. Then give them a really structured 3 month probation period, before you make an honest ‘yes or no’ decision. The people who get to stay are the right people.

Systems and high-performing teams can serve your business just like they do at McDonald’s. With the right people in place, the right way of doing things established and everyone trained up, you’ll be able to replicate your successes time and time again.

Page Marianne Page Ltd Simplify & Systemise for Consistency

Latest PEPSI rebranding is a return to form

To mark its 125th anniversary, Pepsi has unveiled its first major rebrand since 2008. Gone is one of the more divisive designs of the past 15 years, with classic Pepsi branding coming back with a modern twist.

What’s changing?


The slanted ‘globe’ of 2008 is gone and the iconic Pepsi globe is being returned to resemble the flattened version used in the late 1980s and 1990s.

The ‘PEPSI’ wordmark is placed back where it belongs, moving back to the central white stripe of the logomark.


The bold new custom typeface and uppercase “PEPSI” wordmark is designed to reflect the brand’s “confidence and unapologetic mindset”.


PepsiCo is introducing electric blue and black to the brand’s traditional colour scheme, creating a bold contrast with vibrancy and modernity.

The “PEPSI” name reappears in black, echoing its 1950-1986 predecessor. And a slim black edge now frames the logo lockup. This increased use of black in the logo highlights the Pepsi Zero Sugar range, reinforcing the company’s commitment to its main growth driver.


The digital age is transforming the way people interact with brands and products. Pepsi’s new visual identity responds to this evolution by introducing movement and animation into their visual system. Known as the ‘Pepsi Pulse’, this represents “the ripple, pop and fizz” of Pepsi-Cola and “brings the rhythm and energy of music” to the brand’s motion graphics.


The new visual identity draws from Pepsi›s heritage and commits to the company›s Zero Sugar goals, creating a bold and “unapologetically current” look. Movement and animation have been incorporated, with the «Pepsi pulse». The new visual system can be used in both physical and digital spaces, from retail shelves to the metaverse.



will we see it? The new logo will be deployed across North America this year before rolling out globally in 2024




Experiential marketing, also known as XM, engagement marketing, or ground marketing, has become increasingly popular in many sectors. This marketing approach involves creating a hands-on experience for the customer that is both interactive and memorable. We spoke to Dan Bolton, Founder of Be Experiential about his startup journey. BE is a Dubai-based events business.

How did you become a Founder?

In 2015 I was working with a leading agency in the UAE and after eight years with that company, I decided that it was time to move on and pursue a freelance career working in the events industry across the UAE and beyond.

Little did I know that in three short weeks, the opportunities would take off and I would need to hire the first team member to support me with the projects we were working on.

Like any start-up, we literally began the business from the kitchen table, and this is where the business was born. Fast forward to 2023, we now have an umbrella group called Echo that supports and leads four unique brands and businesses that all work within the entertainment, events and media industries - employing almost 75 full-time staff and an army of freelancers on hundreds of projects annually.

Why the events business?

I fell into it completely by accident. Upon leaving high school I began a career as a circus performer travelling and appearing at venues across the UK and Europe.

Needless to say, my parents were rather surprised by this career choice. And to get a “proper job”, I also worked with the agency as a booking agent, before moving into the world of business development & client engagement. I left them and the UK at the end of 2007.

Was that always an ambition of yours?

I always had an interest in events, in particular largescale events.

I remember watching the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and told everyone that one day I would attend an opening ceremony, finally making that dream come true when I travelled thousands of miles to attend the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics when I was 18 years old.

I clearly remember watching that show live, hearing the music, feeling the energy from the audience, and watching the spectacle unfold in front of my eyes. I knew this was an industry I wanted to be part of and that, not content with only attending and watching a ceremony, I would work on delivering one in the future and did in Athens 2004 and London 2012.


Why Dubai?

I really do believe that everything happens for a reason. In the summer of 2007, my partner was offered a job in Dubai and asked if I would like to go. Hesitant at first, I finally decided that this was an opportunity that I could not resist and packed a bag before landing a few months later.

Dubai was booming then and had a small events and entertainment scene. I was fortunate enough to be able to secure a job with an agency the minute I landed and as they say, the rest is history. 15 years later I’m still here and we continue to work towards evolving the events, entertainment and media industry in a country that has provided us with so many incredible opportunities and allowed us the platform to build and grow the companies we have today.

What was your business plan at that time? Where did you find the resources to get started?

The truth is I never had a business plan. I had never done business before. This was all new to me and even to this day I still feel I learn something every day.

I have always been resourceful and utilised the network I had built over 10 years to support the business in getting started. My friend created my branding. Another friend a website. Other friends supported me financially to secure all the legal requirements to operate. I was and continue to be extremely fortunate to be surrounded by supportive peers who help ensure the business achieves the successes and ambitions we have.

Now we have multiple companies across the group, it’s impossible not to have a business plan. And towards the end of last year, I secured the support and services of a business advisor who has helped me put in the place the corporate structures, strategies, and reporting practices that the companies need. This has been revolutionary and really helps set a clear vision, purpose, and direction.

In day-to-day business, it’s very easy to get distracted. So having a plan and strategy in place, that everyone agrees with, ensures that we remain on track and continue the journey together.


#ForYouParty with TikTok! Celebrating

the top creators of 2022

What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge has always been around personal compromise. When you start a business, you literally give everything you have to make sure it’s successful. Your time, focus, energy, and finances.

This does come at a personal cost, and I always struggled with that balance that you need to find to ensure that you have a fulfilling life.

Burnout in our industry is very real and something that for a very long time I refused to believe I was suffering from. It was only last year that I realised that this neglect towards my personal physical, mental, and emotional health would be critical to the business if I did not get it sorted and address the challenges I was facing.

No business can survive if its leader is lost and unable to function, so I secured professional help to support me. Over the last six months, I have invested in a team of senior management to help take on much of the workload and contribute to driving the business forward, as well as a team of advisors and business professionals that can help guide me as we continue to move from our comfort zone and grow. Being at the top of any organisation is a very lonely place. I learnt that we all need support and people to talk to, and this has been a massive turning point in the success of our companies. I want to ensure we have a strong support network of peers and professionals that we can lean on.

What lessons have you learned as a result of launching your business?

The honest answer is too many to list. I genuinely feel that every day I go into the office I learn something new every day.

My first takeaway would be: always prepare for the unpredictable. We live in a world that is moving and evolving so fast, we have gone through a global pandemic, a financial crisis and so many other things. Every day presents new opportunities and challenges.

I have learnt to embrace this and go with the flow. All we can do in business is keep striving to provide the best possible service, experience, and culture. That ensures we have clients and team members wishing to come back to us for more.

In business, you really do need to be resilient. I have had so many knocks and disappointments but at the end of the day, no one on the outside sees that. They just see the results that you achieve and what you put out on social media.

Secondly, I have learnt a lot about people. Our industry is based on people and human interaction. Every human is different.

The way they communicate, understand, what makes them happy, what motivates them, what fulfils them, what their ambitions are, and what values are dear to them.


As we have rapidly grown our workforce over the last 12 months, I have quickly learnt that my role now is to provide an environment where people can flourish and grow. I’m no longer hands-on with the delivery of projects. Instead, I spend most of my days looking at how we can provide the most incredible space and platform for the team to develop, personally and professionally. Would you do anything differently a second time around?

In short no. I have made so many mistakes but have no regrets. Each of these experiences has helped me learn and grow into the person I am today and helped shape the business we have for now and into the future.

How has customer feedback helped shape the direction of your business?

Always. We are a service industry, so the feedback of our clients is imperative to being successful. Within the creative industries, it’s critical that we have an open dialogue with our clients and partners to ensure that we are delivering solutions that fulfil their needs and requirements.

Communication in any business or industry is probably one of the areas that are always under constant review and improvement.

Successes and achievements so far?

I am extremely fortunate to be in a position where we have achieved a lot. Key highlights range from opening ceremonies, Expo 2020 programming and events across the six-month festival, to launching cultural projects in Saudi, media campaigns for leading music brands, and recently the delivery of the Road to COP28 event - which was our biggest project to date with over 4000 change-makers in attendance.

What ambitions do you have for the company in the coming years?

A few months ago, we launched Echo, the holding organization for all the brands and companies which now fall within the group. Sustainability, people, and culture stand at the heart of this organisation, and it is my ambition that the group becomes a vehicle for global change across the events, entertainment, and media industries.

With a key focus on how we can sustainably deliver projects that leave a lasting impact and legacy on the world we live in, as well as a commitment to dedicate support and resources to the emotional, physical, and mental well-being of our team members.

It is my ambition for Echo to become a platform that supports the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs, utilising my experiences and journey undertaken over the last 20+ years to help support those that are taking their first steps into the daunting world of leading and building a business.


6 Ways Your Business Can Overcome Inflation

Inflation has proven anything but transitory. The latest figures confirm inflation in Dubai picked up to 4.9% in February, rising from 4.6% in January. At times it can seem like an impossible task to stay ahead of the game, but with some research and due diligence there are ways to combat rising costs. We look at six strategies many businesses employ to beat inflation and keep their heads above water.

30 MARCUS MANNS | www.mecs.design

Stock up now to hedge against inflation

This is one of the main ways we have chosen to respond to inflation, where it relates to print. The input costs we face in the print industry have risen dramatically, much like every other sector. Inflation in shipping rates has had a knock-on effect, raising the prices of UAE imports. In close collaboration with our printers, we have secured large paper stocks that should insulate our client from further price increases in the short term.

Many businesses can deal with inflation in a similar way. If your business requires materials to function, it might make sense to buy in larger quantities than you need right now. This will usually work out cheaper in the long run and protect your business from further inflationary price increases.

Monitor your margins closely

As inflation starts to eat into profits, businesses need to be extra vigilant about their margins. It’s crucial to have a good handle on your costs so you can make informed decisions about pricing. If inflation is starting to impact your business, take a close look at your accounts and make sure you are still making the profit you need to stay afloat.

When inflation is on the rise, businesses need to be proactive about raising their prices. This can be a difficult decision to make. Always talk to your customers in advance and keep them in the loop if you’re planning to raise prices.


Cut costs strategically

If inflation is impacting your business badly, you might need to look at ways to cut costs. But this needs to be done in a strategic way that doesn’t impact the quality of your product or service. One way to do this is by streamlining your supply chain and working with fewer suppliers. This can help you drive down costs and improve efficiency.

You might sacrifice some of the more expensive overheads. If you’ve got a snazzy office you could do without, consider moving to another location. The same goes for any unnecessary costs that are eating into your profits.

Become as productive and efficient as possible

In inflationary times, businesses need to be as productive and efficient as possible. This is the only way to maintain margins and keep prices low for customers.

This usually means investing in technology or automating processes. If you can find ways to do things faster and with less input, this will help your business stay ahead of the inflationary curve.

It might make sense to invest in new technology that can help your business run more smoothly. This could be anything from new software systems to new machinery. Consider anything that might help you produce your product or service more quickly. By making your business more productive and more profitable, you’re offsetting the effects of inflation.


Look for additional revenue streams

When inflation is starting to bite, it might be time to look for additional revenue streams. This can help to bring in extra money and stabilise your business. One way to do this is by diversifying your product range. This could involve adding new products or services that complement your existing offerings.

Another option is to start selling to new markets. This could involve exporting your product or service to another country. Or you might decide to target a new customer base at home. Either way, it’s important to look for new opportunities that can help inflation-proof your business.

Make marketing and customer acquisition a priority

Last and by no means least, marketing your business is hugely important in times of inflation.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that small business owners see higher levels of competition compared to six months ago. And you can bank on an increasingly competitive environment in GCC markets as inflation continues.

Customers have other options when it comes to buying the goods and services that you provide, and inflation means they are always open to reassessing them. If you want to succeed, you need to make marketing and customer acquisition a priority. This is the only way to ensure that your business continues to grow in spite of inflationary pressures.

There are always opportunities and inflationary pressures can sometimes create openings for those who are ready and waiting. Companies that invest in their marketing are better prepared for any eventuality. They are ready to battle competitors and weather the storm of inflation.


How will your business combat inflation?

Inflation can be a real problem for small businesses. As costs go up, it can be difficult to maintain the same level of profit margin. And if you don’t take steps to overcome inflation, it can eventually lead to your business failing.

A recent survey from Grant Thornton has shown that most businesses in the UAE have opted to pass the cost of surging inflation to consumers in a bid to protect their margins, but they have not taken any steps to deal with inflation over the long term.

Raising prices is one strategy to consider, but this isn’t a decision to take lightly. Inflation makes it all the more important that you retain customers and make every effort to foster customer loyalty. There are many ways to combat inflation, and we’ve looked at a few of them above. Marketing and building up your brand will remain as important as ever.


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 The Exhibition

“The Line” can still be seen until 23rd April in Riyadh. The Line is one of the Mega projects under development at NEOM and is intended to be NEOM’s flagship city, serving as the primary home for NEOM’s residents.

 Another great exhibition to see if you are in Jeddah is the Islamic Arts Biennale – you will find this at the Hajj Terminal and there you can learn more about the art and stories of Islam. You can visit there until 23rd April.

 Saudi has also just announced the launch of a new low cost airline called Riyadh Air which will add more flights to Asia, Africa and Europe from Saudi.


People in the UAE already had the opportunity to chat with Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi on board the International Space Station back in March. Watch out for more chat events soon.

 In Doha all car lovers car can visit the FBQ Car Museum where you can find unique, rare and outstanding cars – the exhibitions are open until the end of 2023.

 SeaWorld Abu Dhabi’s opening date has finally been revealed by their developer Miral. They will open its doors to welcome visitors on May 23, 2023.

 Oman has just announced that social media influencers and companies who want to promote or market other products online will now require a mandatory license (this does not apply to their own products).

Must see:

 The Al Ula Stairway is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, their ladder lets visitors climb 45 metres into the air with nothing but gravity between them and the ancient landscape below.



Don’t forget the following important dates for the region:

• Zayed Humanitarian Day – 10th April*

• Eid El Fitr – 22nd April* *(pending on the lunar calendar)


• NEOM has appointed their airport partner for NEOM International airport which is AECOM, who will provide consultancy services. The airport is due to open 2024.

• Wynn Casinos will build their first casino in the UAE on Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah.


Work Culture specialist “Great places to work” has surveyed the Middle East and here are some of their picks for 2023:

• Saudi Arabia: Diriyah Gate Development Authority, Half Million Company and Tourism Development Fund (TDF).

• Qatar: Aspire Academy, Talabat and UM Qatar.

• UAE: Jumeirah Group, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Pizza Express.

• Kuwait: Bayan International School, Burgan Bank and Apparel Group.

Corina Goetz


Corina Goetz is the Founder of Star-CaT, a 5 star Middle Eastern Consulting and Training company based in London, UK. She specialises in helping her clients create more business in the Middle East through cultural knowledge.

The BBG’s Female Trade Mission to Riyadh

From the packed return flight, I know that DXB to RUH is a well-trodden path for many in the UAE. But I hope this summary is useful for those that have yet to visit Riyadh to encourage you to go!


The BBG has held a number of large business briefings over the last two years focused on ‘doing business in Saudi Arabia’, all of which have attracted a crowd of over 100 decision-makers based in Dubai, looking to explore the region. Having witnessed the enthusiasm of many of our members to explore the region and aware of many that are now established there or commuting each week, I felt that joining this trade mission organised by CBD Corporate Services and in collaboration with British Chamber of Commerce Abu Dhabi was a fantastic opportunity to visit Riyadh myself and make useful on the ground connections that I might then share with our members in Dubai.


On a personal note, this was the first time I had travelled for business for about 12 years and I had some reservations about how welcoming and how easy it would be for a female business traveller to get around Riyadh. Almost immediately, I felt confident and comfortable enough to take taxis on my own and go from one venue to the next, and whilst the airport experience was quite far from what we have to come to expect at DXB, it was a pretty straightforward process to go from Dubai to Riyadh and back.

This inaugural trade mission to Riyadh was an initiative of BBG Deputy Chair Helen Barrett as part of her focus on GCC connectivity for the BBG. Helen is also a Partner at BBG Member CBD Corporate Services and her team project managed the trade mission with the support of the BBG Dubai and Northern Emirates and the British Chamber of Commerce Abu Dhabi in close collaboration with the Department for Business and Trade (previously

Department for International Trade). It was an unknown as to who would be attracted to join this first exploration to Saudi and quite organically the mission attracted female founders, communication specialists, lawyers and representatives of chartered institutes – a total of 20 women.

Questions around appropriate dress code and safety were the two most frequently asked questions from the delegates ahead of the trade mission. Out of respect and acknowledging that we were part of a Department for Business and Trade supported trade mission, the majority of our delegation chose to wear an abaya however, at the external events that I attended outside of the trade mission it wasn’t on reflection essential. Whilst I have nothing to compare it to other than eleven years of living in Dubai, I was quite surprised to see so many expats not wearing abayas. Ahead of the trade mission, Helen and I arrived a day early to attend an event to support BBG Member Emma


Burdett of WILD who launched her female network for Riyadh in the same week. Over 100 women, many Saudi women were in attendance and there was great energy in the room. We also met with a few ex-Dubai residents who are having a very positive experience of living in Saudi.

Day one of the trade mission programme started with an interactive orientation of Saudi with panelists Lizzie Daniell of AEI Saudi; Lana Dajani of Department for Business and Trade in Riyadh; Marina Krasnobrizhaya (first female General Manager) at The St. Regis Riyadh; Mona Althagafi Country Director at Serco and Nada Almarhoon MD of Elite Recruitment Group moderated by Helen Barrett covering living and working in Saudi as a National and as an expat. This was a really useful session for the trade mission and my main takeaway from the discussion was that whilst seeing women in the workplace is still relatively new compared to the rest of the world, where Saudi women are now at an advantage is that they are ‘leap frogging’ many of the obstacles that women elsewhere may have struggled with through the years. For example, Saudi working mothers are supported financially – with access and financial provision for childcare - and provided with transport to return to work. There are also harsh anti-harassment laws

protecting women from inappropriate comments or behaviours in the workplace. I am sure these initiatives and the governance will be key to why there is a 37% Saudi women participation in the workforce already against the Saudi Vision 2030 target of 30% by 2030!

In the afternoon we visited the Ministry of Investment (MISA) and were welcomed with great enthusiasm. We were taken through a very impressive investors’ presentation with the opportunity to ask questions on set up, licensing, hiring and government assistance. We met with the “attraction team” so it was all very positive as you might expect. Saudi Arabia now allows for full foreign ownership in the majority of its sectors including: education, healthcare, defence, engineering, retail and wholesale. The National Investment Strategy Targets aim is to increase investments in KSA in line with the Saudi Vision 2030, to reach a cumulative total of investments of more than 3.2 trillion USD from 2021 to 2030.


Day one finished with a private function at the British Embassy where we met our peers at The Riyadh Group for British Business (RGBB) and were hosted by Rosie Tapper who is the Vision 2030 and Prosperity Counsellor at the British Embassy Riyadh. In her keynote, Rosie spoke of the important role of sport in the development of the Kingdom.

Day two began at the offices of STAT Law Firm, and our thanks to Yazeed AlToaimi and the wider team for providing us with an overview on business set up steps and the correct channels to follow in conducting business in the Kingdom. Where there are great rewards for setting up in KSA there are also high penalties with a very publicly promoted whistle-blowing campaign to support governance and strict codes of business.

Across all of the presentations, engaging with Uber drivers, in restaurants and speaking to expatseveryone speaks proudly of the paradigm shift for the region since 2016 when the Saudi Vision 2030 was launched. Many of the targets have already been exceeded or are on track. The majority of construction is happening in the GIGA projects and Riyadh’s landscape is very flat in comparison to Dubai. Rumours are that all new cranes for the next four years will be in Saudi to meet the Vision 2030 and the good news is that alongside the construction there is a commitment to planting 10 billion trees, within the Kingdom, as part of the Saudi Green Initiative.

For the final part of the trade mission we visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historical At-Turaif, ‘the royal residence and seat of governance of the First Saudi State and one of the most historically significant and architecturally impressive mudbrick settlements in the world, built in the distinctive Najdi style.’ There are restaurants built around the site that would remind you of the Al Seef area of Dubai with brands Hakkasan, Brunch and Cake and soon to open Flamingo Room – so this is clearly designed and expected to be a big tourism hub! In fact, our own cultural tour was somewhat taken over by a huge K Pop boy band who were filming for a travel entertainment show to encourage tourism!

Whilst I really enjoyed the experience and felt so welcome, after a week in heels in Saudi, returning to Dubai was like slipping into a comfortable pair of trainers (!) and the whole experience was a great reminder of the journey that Dubai and the UAE has been on to get to the stage where we are currently number one destination for travel and climbing up the scale of best places to live in the world with a rapidly growing population!


My thanks to CBD Corporate Services for organising the trade mission, the British Embassy in Riyadh for hosting us, AEI Saudi for their on the ground knowledge and logistics support, the BBG Members who attended as delegates and all of the KSA stakeholders that we met on our trip. My LinkedIn went crazy while I was away so I am certain this will be the start of many more DXB to GCC exploration trade missions for members!

district at night within Al Diriyah with its modern bridge that connects to Al Bujairi square.
Katy Holmes

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Iyad 15 years old, with his family in the car where they are now living.

Far right - The tent where the family are now living.

Photography by Khalil Ashawi/Save the Children
Right - Ahmad, 12 years old, looks at pictures of his old home while Dina hugs her father Lutfi.

Save the Children provides life-changing support to earthquake victims

17.9 million people have been impacted by the earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria on 6th February 2023.

In Syria, 8.8 million, including 3.7 million children were impacted, and recent floods only made things worse for those who lost their home, damaging 12,832 tents and destroying a further 26,005, impacting an estimated 194,185 people.

For almost two months now, families in southern Türkiye and northern Syria have been dealing with the severe impacts of the earthquake.

“Resilience has its limits”: after devastating earthquakes, children need our help to piece their lives back together.

In northern Syria, many children and their families have lost their homes in the earthquakes and are sleeping outside in freezing cold temperatures. They are in desperate need of food, water, shelter, and warm clothing to protect them against the elements and get through the cold nights ahead.

With many health facilities damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, and those that are still standing overwhelmed with thousands of injured people, they need urgent support to access healthcare. A severe lack of safe water and sanitation facilities is threatening to trigger a secondary health crisis, with children particularly vulnerable to the risk of illness and disease.

We also know that in crises like this, children need support to keep them safe and to help them recover and come to terms with what’s happened. Many will have likely lost family members and friends and will need emotional support to cope. Some children may have also become separated from their families, scared, alone and at increased risk of violence, exploitation and abuse. They need support to be reunited with their families or to access alternative care if needed, and to receive protection support.

Ensuring children return to learning is also essential, not only to protect their right to an education, but also to provide them with a safe haven in the aftermath of a disaster and to restore a sense of normality. Children are incredibly resilient, but they need to find safety and stability in order to start their route to recovery.

Rasha Muhrez, Save the Children Syria Response Director, describes the impact of the earthquake Save the Children staff carrying aid during the distribution of mattreses and blankets in a makeshift camp inPazarcik, Kahramanmaras, South Türkiye Photograpyh by Alexandra Saieh/ Save the Children Left - Buildings that were damaged by the earthquake in Antakya, Hatay Province, South Türkiye. Distribution of 168 washing machine to informal container and tented camps in Narlica district and the surrounding areas of Antakya, Hatay Province, South Türkiye. Photograpyh by Ayse Kocak/ Save the Children Photograpyh by Save the Children

The worst affected area in Syria is home to some of the countries’ most vulnerable people. In northern Syria, some 4 million people were already dependent on humanitarian aid, even before the earthquake hit. Many people here have been forced to flee their homes multiple times due to the 12-year conflict and are living in flimsy shelters in informal camps. These shelters can barely protect families from the heavy rain and snow that is currently battering the region, let alone withstand an earthquake. Coupled with a crippling economic crisis, which is ravaging the country, thousands of families were already struggling to feed their children, to keep them warm this winter and to send them to school.

Additional financial commitments are required and should be made now to enable staff, goods, and services to be quickly mobilised in order to avoid secondary crises such as mass hunger and disease and avoid further exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation.

We’re planning to reach 1,600,000 people, including 675,000 children in total through our response1.1m people, including 550,000 children in Syria, and 500,000 people, including 125,000 children in Türkiye.

In Syria, Save the Children is delivering aid through nine local partners, responding in earthquake affected governorates. Save the Children and partners are providing emergency food rations, blankets, tents and warm clothing. They are making sure children and their families can keep clean, healthy and protected from illness and diseases by providing safe drinking water, and essential hygiene and sanitation items. Partners are delivering fuel to two hospitals and to a local bakery which provides 7,500 bags of bread per day and supporting the light rehabilitation of damaged health facilities. So far, we’ve already reached over 139,000 people in total with critical support.

Psychosocialactivities that Save the Children staff deliver to children affected by the earthquake in Hatay province South Türkiye. Photograpyh by Pinar Deliloglu / Save the Children


Rasha Muhrez says that Syria’s humanitarian crisis did not start with the earthquakes. The situation was already incredibly dire even before the earthquakes struck, with children lacking sufficient water, food, healthcare, education services and increasingly, hope, after more than 12 years of war.

These earthquakes mean that families are more likely to be forced to make impossible decisions for their children, including life-altering compromises on basic education, nutrition and health care, and their children’s protection. And may even take a perilous journey across the Mediterranean. They should not be left to shoulder these challenges alone - they need our support.

For far too long the needs of Syrian children have been neglected. It shouldn’t have taken an earthquake to refocus the international community, but now it is time to shift our approach.

While meeting immediate needs, we need to think about the longer term. Now is the time to focus on recovery. We need to support local organisations and civil society to make meaningful changes in the support that people receive. International funding must be used to rehabilitate schools, make hospitals fit for purpose and ensure that children have safe homes.

Photograpyh by Save the Children

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children. We work in around 120 countries. Our vision is to live in a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.

In the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe region we have country offices in Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Lebanon, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, Türkiye, Ukraine,

Yemen. We are also present in Albania, Kosovo, Tunisia and Poland and have member offices in Jordan, Lithuania and Romania. In the UAE, we have recently established the Gulf Initiative, with the aim of starting partnerships with key development and humanitarian actors in the Gulf region.

Save the Children’s Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe regional office is based in Jordan.

Far left - Melis,35 year old, mother of two and earthquake survivor. Left - Machinery digs through rubble as rescue operations continue under the dark in Afrin District, Aleppo Governorate, Northwest Syria after the earthquake.
The February 6th earthquakes might have moved down the global news agenda, but we should not look away and we should not forget about the plight of the Syrian people.
Photograpyh by Khalil Ashawi/Save the Children

mecs portfolio

RAKAA Properties

Handcrafted leather brochures for Gulf VIPs

Riyadh-based real estate developers, RAKAA Properties, asked us to develop VIP presentations showcasing their developments. We designed and crafted handmade leather-bound brochures and presentation cases to achieve this, taking great care in the entire process to ensure an elegant finished product. We knew that this project demanded meticulous attention to detail. These presentations were given to an influential group, including Heads of State and Ministers from across the GCC region. We then produced a perfect-bound edition of the same design for general distribution.

Founded in 1982, RAKAA Properties has become a major player in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s construction and development sector. With a focus

on developing iconic structures and award-winning projects, RAKAA properties have continually pushed the boundaries of what is possible in real estate development. Their portfolio includes some of the most advanced and luxurious residential developments in Riyadh.

We were incredibly proud to work with RAKAA Properties on this project, which demonstrates our shared commitment to delivering exceptional quality. We delivered the project within budget, on time, and above all else, with attention to detail that surpassed expectations.



What We’re Reading How to Grow Your Small Business

Donald Miller

We pre-ordered Donald Miller’s latest book, which was released mid-March. We already use the frameworks from his previous book, Marketing Made Simple. In How to Grow Your Small Business, Donald Miller gives entrepreneurs a 6-step plan to grow their businesses so they produce dependable, predictable results. What

We’re Reading

Bespoke corporate Eid cards like these can make a lasting impression with clients, customers and colleagues.

MARISA MANNS | www.mecs.design

What We’re Watching

BRANSON: Adventures of a Lifetime

With BRANSON, acclaimed filmmaker Chris Smith takes viewers on an expansive and intimate 70-year journey through Richard’s life. It covers everything from his childhood as the son of a spirited, tough love mother, to his love of adventure and his daredevil pursuits that put the Virgin brand on the map.


Some things have to be seen to be believed. Our HD printing is one of them

At a printing press, quality comes down to the people running the press. The latest machinery and equipment are useless in the wrong hands. A print company is only as good as it’s people. This applies to just about any industry. Perhaps your’s too. Human ability still determines the final result.

At mecs, we call ourselves a graphic design and print management agency. Because printing has always been part of our DNA. Our founders include a British Master Printer, trained at City & Guilds, London. We bring you more than 45 years of industry-experience and an obsession with quality, detail, and precision that is as strong as ever. globalprinthub.com/dubai

Every job we print is produced at approximately 2x the industry-standard resolution. In plain English, that means twice as much detail. Think of it as High-Definition.

That’s why our print quality has to be seen inperson. And that’s why our work can command the respect of your prospective clients and partners.

Whatever business you’re in, we can help you impress with print that’s out of this world.

Opportunity is won or lost

For 25 years mecs has specialised in bilingual English / Arabic design and print. Starting out in Kuwait, our work quickly stood apart, and our services were soon sought by some of the most respected names in Arabian business. Reknowned for clear communication, elegant design, and outstanding production quality; clients turn to us for presentations that matter. We have worked across countless industries, with clients spanning the entire Arabian Gulf, the U.S., UK, and Europe.

Today we have a design studio located in Devon, South West England, while our customer base remains based in the GCC.

We continue to welcome new clients across the Gulf region.

middle east creative services

Website: www.mecs.design

Email: hello@mecs.design

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/ mecsdesign

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mecsdubai

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ mecs.design/

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