Yalla! August/September '23 - The magazine for Arabian Gulf business owners and entrepreneurs

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The Founder: Terry Downes

MySafe Global Vaults

Insights into starting, growing, and leading a business. AUGUST - SEPTEMBER 2023 | mecs.design FEATURES / LAILA AL HADHRAMI ON THE FUTURE OF SMART LIVING HASHIM KUDSI & RAY DALIO ON THE RENAISSANCE STATES TIM FARE-MATTHEWS & FREDDIE PULLEN | CORINA GOETZ | EXHIBITION DATES

BECOME A MEMBER OF THE BRITISH BUSINESS GROUP DUBAI AND NORTHERN EMIRATES!

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.

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Founding Sponsors Annual Partners

HELLO

Welcome to the August-September issue of Yalla! magazine. As the Gulf gets back to business, the trade shows resume with gusto. Cityscape Global will be held in Riyadh this September, moving to Saudi Arabia for the first time.

One of the event’s headline speakers, Laila Al Hadhrami, shares her thoughts on the future of smart living in the GCC.

We have a summary of Hashim Kudsi’s recent talk with Ray Dalio on the prospects of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Switzerland, and Singapore, as they look to forge bright futures as neutral, independent states.

Terry Downes features as The Founder of MySafe, Dubai’s fully automated safe-deposit box service that’s disrupting a 100-year old industry.

Filmmaker, Tim Fare-Matthews discusses his journey into video production with Freddie Pullen.

We cover the 10 common mistakes people make with business websites.

Corina Goetz brings you an update on news and events around the region. In our graphics studio we’ve been preparing a packaged service to help foreign SME’s do business in GCC markets, combining translation and right-to-left design to help them get off on the right foot. And our Portfolio showcases a leather-bound brochure produced for a Hyatt hotel development in Abu Dhabi.

We hope you enjoy this edition and that it leaves you inspired.

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

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CONTENTS Events Features 6 Upcoming TRADE SHOWS 8 Profile: CITYSCAPE GLOBAL FACTS + STATS 10 THE FUTURE OF SMART LIVING 20 THE RENAISSANCE STATES 24 THE FOUNDER TERRY DOWNES 32 APERTURE TO ADVENTURE 40 10 DEADLY WEBSITE DESIGN SINS 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. Work 48 IN THE STUDIO DESIGN LOCALISATION FOR WESTERN SME’S 50 OUR WORK TASAMEEM’S SHAMS GATE DEVELOPMENT 44 GULF NEWS ROUND-UP from Corina Goetz

TRADE

SMART FUTURE EXPO 2023

6-8 August / smartfuturexpo.com

ABU DHABI INTERNATIONAL HUNTING AND EQUESTRIAN EXHIBITION 2-8 September/ adihex.com

SEAMLESS SAUDI ARABIA 4-5th September/ terrapinn.com

THE HOTEL SHOW SAUDI ARABIA 10-12 September/ thehotelshowsaudiarabia.com

SAUDI TECHNOLOGY EXPO & SUMMIT 2023 22-24 August/ Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

LIFT CITY EXPO JEDDAH 4 - 7 September / idc.com/mea/events

08/09/23

SLEEP EXPO 5-7 September/ sleepexpome com

PLASTICS RECYCLING SHOW MIDDLE EAST 5-7 September/ prseventmea.com

MIDDLE EAST FOAM & POLYURETHANE EXPO & ADHESIVES SEALANTS AND BONDING EXPO MIDDLE EAST 5-7 September/ mefpu.com

SAUDI WATER EXPO 11-13 September/ saudiwaterexpo.com

INDEX SAUDI 10-12 September/ index-saudi.com

CITYSCAPE GLOBAL 10-13 September/ cityscapeglobal.com

AM CONCLAVE MIDDLE EAST 2023 13-14 September/ amconclave.com

SAUDI INFRASTRUCTURE EXPO 11-13 September/ saudiinfrastructureexpo.com

EXPO! 10-12 expoexpomena.com START
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SHOW

SUPER ANGELS SUMMIT 2023

14-15 September/ superangelssummit.com

RU’YA (CAREERS UAE)

19-21st September/ ruyacareers.ae

EXPO! EXPO! MENA 10-12 September/ expoexpomena.com

FOODEX SAUDI 17-20 September/ foodexsaudiexpo.com

ARABLAB + 19-21 September/ arablab.com

MAISSANE DESIGN IN ABU DHABI 2023 20-22 September/ visitabudhabi.ae/en/events/ massane-design-in-abu-dhabi

THE SAUDI EVENT SHOW 18-19 September/ informaconnect.com/ saudi-event-show/

SIGN & GRAPHIC IMAGING M. E. EXHIBITION 18-20 September/ signmiddleeast.com

THE FOREX EXHIBITION 26-27 September/ theforexexpo.com/dubai2023

52ND WATCH & JEWELLERY MIDDLE EAST SHOW 27 September - 1 October/ mideastjewellery.com

DATES

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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER SCHEDULE

CITYSCAPE GLOBAL

10th - 13th September /cityscapeglobal.com

The world’s most ambitious real estate event, is set to make its debut in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Dubbed ‘The Future of Living’, the event promises attendees an immersive journey into the next era of real estate.

The decision to host Cityscape Global in Riyadh marks a significant milestone. It underscores the city’s rising stature as a global real estate hotspot. The event will bring together participants from the entire real estate ecosystem, offering a unique platform for networking and knowledge sharing.

This inaugural edition is expected to be bigger and better, with new features including the Major Project Majlis and the Property Finding Exhibition. These features are designed to provide valuable insights into major projects and property trends, both locally and internationally.

Cityscape Global is expected to attract thousands of attendees, contributing significantly to Riyadh’s economy. This influx of visitors will boost local businesses and reinforce the city’s status as a leading business destination.

A wide range of products will be showcased at the exhibition, reflecting the diversity and innovation in the global real estate market. From cuttingedge architectural designs to sustainable building solutions, attendees can expect to see the future of living come to life.

This year’s Cityscape Global promises to be more than just an exhibition. It’s a celebration of property, communities, and prestige. Its successful execution in Riyadh will not only bolster the city’s global image but also pave the way for future editions of the event. The event offers valuable insights into the global real estate industry and provides a platform for professionals to connect, learn, and grow.

8 PROFILE: CITYSCAPE GLOBAL

70% - Home ownership target by 2030 from a baseline of 47% today

STATISTICS 9
1.5 million new housing units to be built by 2030 Home to world’s GIGA real estate projects

Laila AL Hadhrami on the Future of Smart Living

The move of the Cityscape exhibition from Dubai to Riyadh for the first time is an exciting development. It reflects the growing importance and potential of the real estate and urban development sector in Riyadh and Saudi Arabia as a whole. It demonstrates the commitment of Riyadh to showcase its progress, projects, and investment opportunities to a global audience. This move highlights the city’s aspiration to position itself as a regional hub for innovation, urban development, and sustainable growth in smart cities.

With a strong focus on the Middle East, Laila has become one of the region’s leading Smart Cities advisors. She is currently leading an advisory company in smart and sustainable cities, while also serving as an advisor for different global consulting firms.

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What factors are driving the transformation towards smart and sustainable cities in the region? Why the need to change?

The transformation towards smart and sustainable cities in the region is driven by various factors. Rapid population growth and urbanization, coupled with environmental concerns and the need for economic diversification, have created a pressing need for change. The region is also experiencing the impacts of climate change, prompting a focus on resilience and sustainability. Technological advancements, including digital technologies and data analytics, offer opportunities to optimize urban systems and enhance resource management. Overall, the shift towards smart and sustainable cities addresses the limitations of traditional urban development models, aiming to create resilient, efficient, and livable cities for the present and future.

How would you describe a sustainable Gulf city?

A Sustainable Gulf City can be described as a city that embraces sustainability principles, just like any other sustainable city around the world. However, it stands out by reflecting the unique identity, culture, and DNA of the Gulf region. We understand that the Gulf cities have diverse cultures, and it is crucial to consider and respect these cultural differences in our sustainability efforts. Our main focus is on the community, building a city that improves the quality of life for its residents and becomes their cherished home. We strive to incorporate sustainable practices that are tailored to the region's environmental conditions, including the use of renewable energy sources, efficient resource management, and sustainable infrastructure. By engaging the community and considering the Gulf region's identity and culture, we create a Sustainable Gulf City that residents can proudly call their own and that truly enhances their lives.

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With its vibrant society and thriving economy, the ambitious nation of Saudi Arabia is a natural fit for Cityscape Global.
13 FUTURE OF SMART LIVING

What are the biggest barriers to that transition?

The Arabian Gulf must have some unique challenges due to the desert climate, the heat, and the scarcity of water?

The transition to sustainable Gulf cities faces significant barriers due to the region's desert climate, extreme heat, and water scarcity. Challenges include adapting to the climate constraints, managing water scarcity through innovative approaches, thoughtful urban planning and design, promoting behavioral change and community engagement, securing financing and investments, and establishing supportive regulatory frameworks. Overcoming these barriers is essential to create sustainable cities that balance cultural preservation with sustainable infrastructure, efficient resource management, and widespread adoption of sustainable practices. Despite the challenges, addressing these obstacles presents opportunities for innovation and collaboration, leading to successful transitions towards sustainable Gulf cities.

What role will government regulations play in promoting smart and sustainable cities in the GCC? New technologies are always expensive in the early stages. How do you encourage adoption? And how do they become affordable?

Encouraging adoption of new technologies in the early stages, despite their initial expense, requires a multi-faceted approach. This can be achieved through research and development funding, financial incentives and subsidies, public-private partnerships, economies of scale, supportive regulations, and knowledge sharing. While the adoption of technology may come with upfront costs, the return on investment is substantial, both financially and strategically. Citizens today expect smart services in an era where technology serves as an enabler. At Communities connect cities, we empower cities to adopt a "Technology as a service" model, enabling them to implement successful and sustainable smart projects that deliver significant benefits both to the community and the city itself.

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Are there examples of smart technologies that are currently being implemented in GCC real estate?

There are definitely a lot of examples. Smart technologies such as the adoption of IOT, AI, the Metaverse, and digital twins are playing a crucial role in building smart cities across the GCC region. Real estate projects are leveraging digital twins, which are virtual replicas of physical assets or entire cities, to monitor, simulate, and optimize various aspects of urban environments. Digital twins enable real-time monitoring, predictive analytics, and scenario testing, facilitating better urban planning, infrastructure management, and resource optimization. AI further enhances digital twins by analyzing vast amounts of data and providing valuable insights for decisionmaking and operational efficiency. The Metaverse complements these technologies by creating immersive virtual environments that enable remote collaboration, citizen engagement, and interactive simulations. Together, these emerging technologies are revolutionizing smart city development in the GCC, fostering sustainability, efficiency, and resilience.

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The Line Exhibition comes to Riyadh to Showcase its Revolutionary Designs for Livability
FUTURE OF SMART LIVING
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Are there successful sustainable real estate projects in the Arabian Gulf to-date, and what we can learn from them?

Several mega cities and smart city projects are shaping the Arabian Gulf region's urban landscape. In Saudi Arabia, The Line stands out as an innovative project within the NEOM mega-city. The Line aims to create a sustainable linear city powered by clean energy and integrated with advanced technologies. Qatar's smart city initiatives include Lusail City, a waterfront development focused on sustainable design, efficient transportation systems, and smart technologies. The United Arab Emirates is at the forefront of smart city projects, with examples like Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, a carbon-neutral development emphasizing renewable energy and advanced mobility solutions. Dubai's smart city initiatives, such as Dubai Internet City and Dubai Silicon Oasis, drive innovation and technology-driven urban growth. Oman is also investing in smart cities, with Sultan Haitham City designed to be a sustainable model city incorporating advanced technologies and renewable energy sources.

These mega cities and smart city projects exemplify the region's commitment to creating sustainable, technologically advanced, and livable urban environments. They integrate clean energy, advanced infrastructure, and innovative technologies to enhance quality of life, promote economic growth, and establish a foundation for the future. These ambitious projects demonstrate the Arabian Gulf's determination to lead in urban innovation and sustainability, with a focus on improving the well-being of residents while embracing cutting-edge technologies.

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FUTURE OF SMART LIVING
The Line aims to create a sustainable linear city powered by clean energy and integrated with advanced technologies.
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Cityscape attracts international attention. What opportunities do you see for international business and investors? How can they participate and contribute?

Cityscape presents international business and investors with valuable opportunities in the Arabian Gulf real estate market. I will be able to connect and learn more about the mega smart cities projects in our region and exchange experiences with my global colleagues from different cities around the world. Participants can explore attractive investment prospects, forge partnerships with regional players, showcase innovative solutions, engage in knowledge exchange, and support sustainable development. Participating in Cityscape enables them to identify investment opportunities, establish collaborations, expand their market presence, and contribute to the region's real estate sector. It is essential for international businesses and investors to conduct thorough market research, build local partnerships, adhere to regulations, and engage with local stakeholders to maximize their participation and make meaningful contributions.

“I am very excited to participate as a keynote speaker in this remarkable event.”

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Laila AL Hadhrami
FUTURE OF SMART LIVING
NEOM Meets with industry leaders in the Eastern Province to showcase. investment opportunities.

The Renaissance States

Liwa Capital Advisors Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Hashim Kudsi, sat with Ray Dalio, Founder of Bridgewater Associates, to hear his thoughts on where countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Switzerland are in their arc cycle.

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
SINGAPORE

Just like a doctor can check your health, Ray believes that the health of a country can be measured through a set of reliable indicators.

Financial health, for example - do you earn more than you spend? Do you have a good income statement and strong balance sheet? Do people work well together, or is there internal conflict that is disruptive? Is international war a threat or not?

These are defining issues for a country, but these outcomes are no mystery. They can be traced back to some basic underlying factors.

Education, not just in the academic and professional sense, but relating to character development and ethics. It’s important to ensure civility. A harmonious community leads to improved productivity and a better society, with better finances.

SWITZERLAND

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SAUDI ARABIA

Education is one of the ways a nation can ensure it’s people can interact well, can get along and work together effectively. It can also instil positive attitudes around work, so that people have a sense of accomplishment.

The cost of education matters. Those countries with educated people working cost-effectively are very competitive. India is an example of this.

In Switzerland and Singapore, human capital has been very important. Those countries don’t have an abundance of natural resources. They succeed in part through human development.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia, obviously have considerable income from fossil fuels. Around 50% of the UAE’s income comes from energy. For a long time, the UAE has reinvested that in developing it’s human capital alongside a strong non-energy economy. Saudi Arabia is now making huge strides in that direction too.

Corruption is an important indicator. We have corruption indices that show the different corruption levels between countries. And we know there is a -54% correlation between a country’s level of corruption and it’s growth level over the next 10 years.

A successful country needs healthy competition and rule of law.

Openness is key. Being open is the only way to benefit from the international exchange of ideas. Isolation (it’s opposite) lead to the collapse of the Qing dynasty in China, for example.

The UAE has a population that is 90% expat. People from all over the world have made the Emirates their home. That openness attracts international expertise, some of the best human capital, and educates the nation’s population.

Today, under new leadership we see a new openness in Saudi Arabia. The country is rapidly opening up to the world.

Openness brings a diversity of thinking. You end up attracting new technologies, the best talent, and the best ideas from all over the world. That openness becomes a competitive advantage.

As does neutrality. Particularly when larger global powers are in conflict, which doesn’t necessarily mean a military conflict. Sanctions, trade wars, and other disputes provide an opportunity for open and neutral countries, who are the natural beneficiaries of talent, people, capital and property. Switzerland, for example, has done this for centuries. Environments like Singapore, Switzerland, the UAE, they become the renaissance states.

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If we look at the renaissances in history, they were in places where there was great trade and education. They offered a lot of inventiveness and dynamism. They stayed out of wars and almost benefitted from them, because they were talent magnets.

Capitalism has proven the best way to allocate resources to individuals who drive progress, whether that’s an entrepreneur, a scientist, or an artist. If you don’t have a good capital market, then it’s hard to ensure successful resource allocation. But you want to ensure there is equal opportunity across society. Again, the effects of stamping out corruption and having strong rule of law are evident.

Equal opportunity is very powerful because it brings talent from wherever it exists. It improves your access to talent, which combined with capital can produce good results. It also creates a sense of fairness. That lends stability, because infighting can result when people believe society is unfair. Civility and cooperation start to collapse. Revolutions can happen.

Stability underpins any successful nation. You need a strong legal system and rule of law. There is very little crime in the UAE and people feel very safe. The same can be said of Saudi, Singapore, and Switzerland, of course. But civility is difficult to enforce, it’s far easier to instil ethics within people through education.

When looking at countries that succeed economically, Ray sees a lot of parallels with families that succeed. They tend to be well educated, well mannered, harmonious, with solid values and productivity.

His prescription for any country is clear. There are certain fundamentals: Earn more than you spend. Be civil. Have rule of law. Healthy competition. Stay out of international wars. Educate people well.

These are the basic building blocks behind a nation’s economic success. And as the old adage goes, ‘What get’s measured, get’s improved’. There are 18 measures that can be monitored and compared peer-to-peer with other countries.

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“These are essentials for a family and for a country.”
This is a text summary of a video published
Capital Advisors. Watch the full video on the company website or YouTube channel. www.liwacap.com/insights
Hashim Kudsi
by Liwa
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The FOUNDER TERRY DOWNES OF MYSAFE

Terry Downes is the founder and CEO of Dubai-based MySafe. Terry and his partners are set to disrupt the 100-year old safe-deposit box industry with groundbreaking automation and security technology. MySafe is the only private safe deposit box company in the Middle East and Africa to offer a fully automated, Lloyds-insured safe-deposit box service for the 21st century.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO LAUNCH MYSAFE?

I came to realise that the global retail banking sector for many different reasons had no strategic interest in continuing to provide safe deposit box services. The concept was always seen as a loss-leader by the retail banks, a service they felt obligated to provide to less than 3% of their client base and now even that capacity was shrinking. In many countries the banks no longer provide any service at all, in others the waiting lists can be anything from 3 to 6 years to secure a coveted “Box”. That makes no sense.

In a related industry sector, I was involved in the lunch of a concept then called the “Convenience ATM Network” and I had seen how taking the ATM out of the banking hall and positioning it in the mall changed the way society managed cash and so realised that if we could lift the humble safe deposit box from out of the basement vault and take it in into the high street, it too could revolutionise the way we store small items of value.

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WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MAIN USE CASES FOR PHYSICAL SAFE DEPOSIT BOXES? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THAT MARKET?

When you mention Safe Deposit Box (SDB), one immediately thinks of a deep underground Bank Vault. Apart from the fact that Banks were once the primary custodian of all valuables, the SDB industry has actually nothing whatsoever to do with banking and everything to do with secure storage. In a postCovid world with the increasingly volatile nature of societies across the world, taking reasonable precautions to protect items you consider to be of value to you or your family is an exponential-growth industry.

Of course, it attracts high net worth individuals with valuables to store but you would be shocked at how diverse the client base and items considered valuable really is. The thing is that everyone has something they consider of value to them or their family. With MySafe we set about identifying the optimum solution convenient to all; a fully automated SDB concept utilising advanced safe robotics, a fully integrated privacy pod and in so doing, we disrupt an industry sector that has delivered the service the same way for the past 100 years and we create a 21st century Safe Deposit Box solution convenient and accessible to all. We are the only private Automated Safe deposit box company in the Middle East.

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WHY DUBAI AND KENYA? WHAT MADE THOSE LOCATIONS THE RIGHT PLACES TO LAUNCH?

Dubai because we felt it offered a business ecosystem conducive to disruptive technology, a city that embraced the concept of automation and SMART technology. Dubai is a large, discerning, multi-cultural community and we get to experience feedback from clients that span that cultural mix. Let me also be sincere, we never came here to open a “Shop”, Dubai is also a window to the world and hence exposing the concept of MySafe to a global market was also a key criteria.

Kenya represents a very different risk profile and we wanted to demonstrate /prove the concept in an environment that was very different to Dubai. The fact is that wherever you are in the world, people have items of value to them and the demand for an appropriate convenient 21st century solution will find traction. In actual fact, the greater the risk, the more the demand for a premium 21st century solution.

HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT CREATING A BUSINESS PLAN, FINDING YOUR PARTNERS AND FINDING THE RESOURCES TO GET STARTED?

It all happened overnight! Of course not, it was incredibly difficult as it is for any entrepreneur starting out with an idea. I was fortunate to meet people of integrity and vision who believed in my vision and were prepared to back me in launching the concept. We researched extensively, travelling across Europe, Africa, and the Far East to identify the optimum partners for us, and the rest is built on a passionate belief in our capacity to make an impact.

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DIGITALISATION IS A BUZZWORD IN THE REGION RIGHT NOW. DO YOU SEE THAT AFFECTING MYSAFE, AS MORE DOCUMENTATION BECOMES DIGITAL?

We absolutely buy into the concept of digitalisation and indeed we are so proud to have our own internal R&D team who interface jointly with our global partners to ensure we can continue to future-proof the technological advances baked into our concept. We have developed customised ERP, a world’s first fully-functional dedicated APP will be launched in Q4, allowing clients across the world real-time access to their box with a multi-functional capacity for noncontact interface with their box. Not ‘smart’ to tick a box (forgive the pun) but real ‘smart’ because it makes everything even more convenient and accessible.

IN ANY BUSINESS, TRUST IS A NECESSITYPERHAPS EVEN MORE SO FOR MYSAFE. HOW DOES A NEW BRAND INSTIL THAT SENSE OF TRUST AND SECURITY IN PROSPECTS AND CUSTOMERS?

WHAT ARE THE MAIN THINGS YOU DO FOR MARKETING PURPOSES?

This is a great question and at its core the driving force behind our growth. Marketing is a missioncritical component of any business development plan, but you can only sustain your business if the values you market are baked into the DNA of the brand values and the culture that permeates across the group. We are asked all the time what our USP is. The technology is genuinely exceptional, you sit at the desk and ten seconds later the advanced robotics open a small hatch and up pops your box. It’s something very special to see and with that comes the most advanced security infrastructure of its kind in the world. That said, our USP is grounded on the fact that we care. Your business is our business. Our approach whether interacting with global market leaders, local suppliers, clients, or indeed internally, is grounded in the development of a culture where we really care and that becomes self-evident when you interact with MySafe. It helps when our insurance partners are the largest insurance marketplace in the world, and having audited our concept, allow us to offer clients the option to insure the contents to a maximum of 5 Million AED per box, the highest in SDB insurance cover available in the world.

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Everyone has something they consider of value to them or their family.

WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED SINCE STARTING MYSAFE?

WHAT SETBACKS OR FAILURES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED ALONG THE WAY?

The greatest single challenge we face is to explain the business such that stakeholders come to appreciate it has nothing whatsoever to do with banking and everything to do with taking reasonable precautions to store small items of value. The market is conditioned by the historical involvement of the banking sector in the industry and the perception that every good spy has their own network of safe deposit boxes. The reality is totally different: ordinary clients who perceive the need to store items which for them are considered worthy of taking the precautions.

WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED AS A RESULT?

WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY A SECOND TIME AROUND?

Of course, we have learned and continue to learn every single day. That is an inherent component of any successful growth plan and so to be perfectly honest, no regrets of any kind. We are lucky to have a very experienced and senior team, so between us we have probably made every mistake in the book and learnt from it.

HOW HAS CUSTOMER FEEDBACK HELPED SHAPE THE DIRECTION OF YOUR BUSINESS?

This has been critical to our success and to ensuring our R&D is focused on the demands of the client and not an internal demand we artificially create. We are also fortunate to have an outstanding relationship with our strategic stakeholders and so whether its about customising our global insurance cover to reflect feedback from the clients, the development of a totally new product targeting the Hotel and Hospitality sector, the development of cardless access, keyless boxes, or a world’s-first functional APP, all these initiatives are baked into our DNA so we future-proof our capacity to continue to be innovators in our field.

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THE FOUNDER

WHAT ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS SO FAR, THE BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENTS?

As you build from the ground up, you learn to celebrate every milestone and so I remember our very first sale, the first time I walked into the Kempinski Hotel on the Palm Jumeriah and looked at an empty site, I remember being on the ground watching the 5 ton safe being offloaded at midnight from its container and 6 exhausting hours later the entire safe if finally “on the ground”. I remember how proud we were to get final approval for our latest site in the EMAAR-developed AL Manzil Souq. I walked out of the door and looked up and up and up at the Burj Khalifa and I pinched myself.

Most of all, I am so proud of our team. My Wingman Sascha Winter, a German national with 20 years C-level experience here in the Middle East is an inspirational character. Our FC Jasfer Rashid has built bridges between finance function and our front-end. Between us we lead a team of young but passionate warriors who are even more committed than we are to aspire to their full potential. We work so hard to empower that team and build that sense of cultural values that have stood the test of time.

WHAT AMBITIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE COMPANY IN THE COMING YEARS?

We currently have a portfolio of 11 sites across East Africa and the UAE, and with exclusive distribution agreements in place, we are finalising plans to expand the Network with an additional 27 new sites over the next two years. To that end we have already incorporated in Turkey, in Israel and in the USA. To be honest with you, along the way, the growth potential we have uncovered will take us across multiple regions and we are building the foundations with that in mind. Nelson Mandela said it best, “There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

HAVE YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH MYSAFE CHANGED YOU IN ANY WAY?

There are many ways that MySafe has changed my life. It gave me a blank canvas to paint on. A lifetime’s experience making mistakes and correcting them before finally having this chance to start afresh with a clean slate, to see how far we can go if we don’t stop. It has helped me to trust in people, to feel that sense of shared passion and above all, it has enhanced my view that a gift shared is one that lasts a lifetime.

midnight.

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As you build from the ground up, you learn to celebrate every milestone and so I remember our very first sale, the first time I walked into the Kempinski Hotel on the Palm Jumeriah and looked at an empty site, I remember being on the ground watching the 5 ton safe being offloaded at

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER ENTREPRENEURS LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESSES IN THE ARABIAN GULF?

I have been fortunate to build business across many different regions, Europe, Eastern Europe, the USA, Asia, East Africa and now the Middle East. Every single environment brings with it its own unique challenges and opportunities. What makes building a business in the Arabian Gulf so different, is the fact that it is an environment that sets high demands, and the rewards that follow success are commensurate. This is not a business environment for the fainthearted. But for those who are committed, passionate, and who aspire to be all they can be, there is no better environment in the world. The region is built on a vison and is lead by extraordinary individuals who have created the ecosystem to support that vision. Such that here, everything is

possible, you just have to make sure you are the best at what you do. My advice to entrepreneurs is to surround yourself with people who share your vision and who will never quit. When you find those people, invest in them, empower them, nurture them, and inspire them to be all they can be. Then you can step back and watch the magic happen.

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THE FOUNDER

Aperture to Adventure: Tim

Fare-Matthews of

First and Ten Productions

WORDS: MARCUS MANNS

Tim Fare-Matthews is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Dubai-based film production house, First and Ten Productions.

He recently joined Freddie Pullen on The Healthy Entrepreneur Club podcast, sharing his journey into film production and some of the principles that he picked up along the way.

Tim is a prolific filmmaker who has delivered hundreds of projects for global brands and celebrities, including the BBC, Vice, YouTube, Netflix, Spartan, Aston Martin, Emirates, Red Bull, Will Smith, Jay Shetty, and many others.

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TIM FARE-MATTHEWS INTERVIEW WITH FREDDIE PULLEN

THE BEGINNING:

Basically, I didn’t study filmmaking. That’s quite an important aspect.

Tim first started shooting videos as a hobby, when he took up kiteboarding at 15. He would film his kiting team in a local field in Trowbridge, in Wiltshire, and quickly got hooked on editing and posting the content online. Back in 2005 to 2008, not many people were doing this, and Tim didn’t really have a strategy - he just enjoyed it.

And even though the videos were nothing like the quality he produces today, he was prolific in posting and sharing them. Within a couple of months, Tim had a sponsor and he immediately recognised the power of putting content out there. He saw how visibility would lead to more opportunities.

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Tim pursued a career in motorsport and trained as an engineer. However, he soon realised that working in the industry didn’t align with his expectations, and his passion for it waned. Unsure of his next move, Tim found himself working at Tesco and contemplating his future. He was considering joining the Army and following in his father’s footsteps. It was during his lunch break that Tim received an unexpected phone call from Castle Combe racing circuit, where he had studied motorsport engineering. He was offered a media position with them and had to make a decision fast. Unable to reach anybody he called for advice, the final decision came down to a coin toss. And Castle Combe it was.

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We’ve got a media position. It’s really new. We’ve got an event on this weekend. We need to know today if you’re interested.

CASTLE COMBE: Can you organise a crew?

Once in the job, the circuit wanted to film events and asked Tim to organise a crew. So he volunteered to handle the filming himself. The company simply hired the equipment and Tim learned to document events at the circuit. Two or three years into this, Tim’s kiting network got back in touch. He met Peter Farrow, who became his business partner in the UK, investing in a production business covering Motorsport.

Everything stems from, (apart from the coin toss) a network.

The business gained clients through the network Tim had built working at Castle Combe. And the same network also introduced him to his business partner at First and Ten Productions, Rajeev Virani, via an Indian billionaire. Networking is without a doubt one of the biggest factors in Tim’s success. He believes that one of the smartest moves of his career has been saying ‘yes’ to more things and delivering more value - “if you put time and energy into relationships, opportunities present themselves to you.”

:APERTURE TO ADVENTURE

I didn’t hit the ground running in Dubai. I really struggled. My first year I did 30,000 Dirhams and I spent 10x that, just living here. Tim joined Rajeev in Dubai and it took time to establish their business. There were many times when the duo were filled with doubt and concern, thinking things were not going right for them. In their first year, their revenue totalled 30,000 Dhs, and Tim spent approximately ten times that on living expenses. In the second year, revenue grew to 130,000 Dhs, which wasn’t enough to break even. And by their third year, revenue had grown to 1.3 million Dhs - again, by investing in the network.

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Tim credits some of the company’s biggest job wins to these networking efforts, and to over-delivering wherever possible. Rajeev maintained strong connections from his filmmaking days in Los Angeles. He put the time and energy into keeping in touch, and purely by keeping front of mind with some people, a former colleague made contact. They had a project happening in the Middle East and didn’t know many people in the UAE. They needed to lean on someone reliable, and Rajeev was someone they knew and trusted.

:APERTURE TO ADVENTURE 37
Constantly going above and beyond, adding value for people and businesses creates rapport, which I am now able to harness.

A project with Will Smith landed in our lap and over-delivered... When you over-deliver, people come back.

Tim thoroughly enjoyed working with Will Smith on a few occasions, as well as his production house, Westbrook, and his producers. The videos were part of Will Smith’s Bucket List on Facebook Watch, and Tim had a hand in producing 3 of the 6 episodes: filming Will skydiving in Dubai, taking part in a Bollywood movie, and driving a Formula 1 car at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FREDDIE:

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in business this year?

Around 2 years on from Covid, Tim notices that every business seems to have downsized by some measure. He thinks they have all re-evaluated what they were doing and how they work. His own business is leaner than previously and the biggest challenge now is balancing demand with resources. Whilst he hopes to see businesses picking up momentum again, he sees challenges ahead in maintaining a top-quality product as the staff grows - and also keeping the headcount as lean as possible. The production business is seasonal, being very busy at certain times and quite quiet during the summer. That makes managing resources harder, as the team has to scale up and down while keeping quality high.

ON DELEGATION:

Delegation is really essential in a business with 60+ days of filming to fit into a 30-day month. You’ve got to send people out on their own and Tim believes clear briefing is important. He also ensures there is a feedback loop between the client, other suppliers, and the team. Even when things go well, that communication loop can help the team improve next time around.

The welfare of his crew is always a consideration. And again, good communication is key. With multiple projects running concurrently, some early starts and late finishes, the workload can be challenging and the conditions difficult at times. It comes down to making sure everyone is okay, and problem-solving in advance.

“What’s Plan B? Because at the end of the day, the client’s not going to care about your internal issues.”

Communication needs to happen constantly, in every direction. Tim is fully aware that people make mistakes and some things can’t be done. That’s fine when communication is good, because a situation can be managed. If someone is struggling or has a problem, they need to communicate well with management. And if there’s time to react and put Plan B in place, everybody wins. Problems tend to arise when communication is lacking.

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If you are not clear and something goes wrong, own that... take responsibility and look at every opportunity you could have briefed people better.

ON MOTIVATION:

“I

Tim is mindful of the luxury he has - in the sense of doing what he loves, but also in coming from the UK. He can think of nothing worse than spending his time in a role that isn’t working towards something bigger and better. But having seen so many people living in poverty while filming the Mumbai Marathon, he also knows what a luxury that is.

He reflects on the safety blanket he had in England. With family, the NHS, and family savings, he could always pick up the phone and call on people if something went completely wrong. And he sees that safety net as more of a reason to dive into the unknown. For Tim, nothing could be worse than the regret that would come with working for decades in a job he didn’t enjoy.

POINT & SHOOT:

:APERTURE TO ADVENTURE 39
dread the thought of doing something I’m not passionate about.”
“If you’re unhappy in any aspect of your life, try and do what you can to change it, even if it means immense sacrifice.”

The 10 Deadly Website Design Sins

You Should Avoid

It’s a digital jungle out there, and having a well-designed website is essential for success. But with so many nuances to consider, it can be easy to commit deadly design blunders that could prove disastrous for your online presence.

To help guide you away from these missteps, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most common website design sins that businesses should absolutely avoid - coupled with some handy best practices.

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1. Outdated Content:

Freshness reigns supreme. Do not allow prehistoric website content to give prospective customers the wrong impression about your business.

Any content that hasn’t been reviewed and updated in years should be refreshed or removed altogether.

3. Chaotic Layout:

Create a clean and organised design that won’t leave visitors feeling overwhelmed by a cluttered mishmash of images, text, and buttons. It should be a breeze to navigate and engage with.

Simplify your homepage by showcasing your key services prominently, with simple visuals and concise descriptions.

5. Missing Contact Details:

What could be worse? Though it may seem unbelievable, some businesses don’t include enough contact information. Customers need to reach you in a multitude of different ways. Don’t forget to display

Placing your phone number and email prominently on the header or footer can make them easier to see.

2. Unresponsive Design:

Mobile users are everywhere, craving a seamless experience. Don’t risk losing them with a nonresponsive website. Engage your audience with a mobile-friendly design that captivates and keeps them coming back for more.

Set up designs for mobiles, tablets, and desktops using screen resolution breakpoints for each type of device.

4. Complex Navigation:

Simplicity is key. Confusing menus can be a major roadblock, leading visitors to abandon ship. Ensure a smooth and delightful user experience by keeping things straightforward and intuitive.

Structure your navigation using concise headings and subheadings to ensure seamless user journeys.

6. Slow Load Times:

In the fast-paced digital world, patience is not a virtue. Supercharge your website to keep visitors engaged and coming back for more.

Compress images, leverage caching, and reduce load times to enhance user satisfaction and create a seamless browsing experience.

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7. Predatory Pop-Ups:

Nobody appreciates being ambushed with pop-up windows. Only use when pop-ups when you really need to. And ensure they’re highly relevant and helpful when you do.

Use pop-ups thoughtfully, and provide valuable content or promotions that match user interests.

9. Weak Visuals:

Images and videos speak volumes. Don’t compromise on top-notch visuals.

Invest in the very best imagery that presents your offerings with maximum impact.

8. Uninspiring Copy:

Avoid clichés or industry jargon that might confuse customers. Focus on creating content that resonates with your target audience, and highlights the unique value of your services.

Be sure to use concise language that accurately and engagingly conveys key messages. And don’t forget to proofread content for typos or grammatical errors before launching.

10. Neglected SEO:

Don’t expect free traffic without putting the work into search engine optimisation. That means doing some deep research, building a strategy, making sure your website is loaded up with the right content, doing regular SEO audits, and a laundry list of jobs.

Start by writing compelling content that’s packed with relevant keywords and phrases. Use headings and subheadings to structure your pages for maximum engagement and improved searchability.

At Middle East Creative Services, we create marketing tools that communicate clearly and convincingly. In both English and Arabic, we translate, design, and deliver for businesses across the UAE, the UK, Europe and North America. That includes hard-working business websites tailored to your needs.

With our simple subscription plans you can get access to professional creative services, with no long-term contracts or hefty upfront fees. You’ll leverage an experienced and dedicated team that can help you unlock growth and succeed - with visual communications that mean business.

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It’s time for your business to make its mark in Arabian Gulf markets.
Write to us at hello@mecs.design, or visit www.mecs.design/gulf to arrange a free consultation today.
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GULF NEWS ROUNDUP

So here is your roundup of news:

 Oman Air has signed a 3 year deal with Chelsea FC – which also means there could be a lot more projects in the works in Oman (we are hearing by 2025 there will have been a staggering 363 tourism projects completed).

 The Red Sea Project will install 750,000 solar panels over the next few years, because with them – they can sustainably power pretty much approx. 50 resorts spread over 22 islands and 1,000 residential buildings.

 If you are a music lover and can’t wait for MDLBeast to return in December – you can head to Azimuth instead. This yearly festival in Al Ula takes places 21-22 September and the line-up of artists is so secret that the only way to find out is to sign up and wait for the news…

DIDYOU KNOW

Abrahamic House on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi actually houses a Mosque, a Church and a Synagogue, each established to welcome Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities to practice their individual faiths.

The Mosque is oriented towards Mecca, the church towards the East and the Synagogue towards Jerusalem.

 Volocopter (Saudi’s first electric air taxi) has just completed his first flight. This is an initiative between NEOM, Volocopter and the General Authority of Civil Aviation – so get ready for driverless taxis. They will first launch in Paris, and Rome next year, and 2025 in NEOM.

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FUN FACT

The amazing images that have circulated recently showing tennis courts in Al Ula, are actually designed by Norah Alsuairy with the help of AI.

 If you want learn more about local hunting and falconry - Doha is the place to be in September. From 5-9 September the Katara International Hunting and Falcons Exhibition 2023.

 Sustainability is the keyword for the Gulf, whether this is the Red Sea (just wait for the Red Sea airport to open shortly, running on renewable energies) or the UAE – where FIVE Hotels (the brand) have just been awarded the International Renewable Energy Certificate for running 100% on renewable energy.

Don’t forget Saudi National Day which takes place on 23rd September. This year will see more drone shows and fireworks, green-lit buildings and events all around Saudi.

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.

Corina Goetz

MIDDLE EAST BUSINESS AND CULTURE
WWW.STAR-CAT.CO.UK
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Photo by Norah Alsuariry

Still branding shirts with just a company logo?

Edge-to-edge designs can take your branding to another level

A LOOK INSIDE THE STUDIO

MANNS | www.mecs.design
MARISA

What We’re Working On Design Localisation for Western SME’s

We’re looking to help more SME’s in the UK, Europe, and North America that are interested in growing their trade with GCC countries. We believe very strongly that bespoke marketing collateral should be used in Arabian Gulf markets. And we’ll be promoting that message more widely as we get closer to a softlaunch. We’ve been busy building a new webpage, designing custom icons, and setting up software to reach thousands of businesses in the coming weeks and months.

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mecs portfolio

TASAMEE M’s Shams Gate Development

Handcrafted leather brochures for Gulf VIPs

TASAMEEM’s Shams Gate Development represents a unique investment opportunity on Al Reem Island in the North East of Abu Dhabi; realising the next phase of Abu Dhabi›s thriving island expansion that will provide a visual gateway to the new city for residents and visitors alike.

Leading an organisation with ambitious expansion plans, the Chairman is acutely aware of the need to maintain the highest standards in all company presentations, particularly those destined for important contacts. The brochure created for Shams Abu Dhabi had failed to reach expectations.

With just a few days remaining, the Senior Interior Designer tasked with producing the brochure asked us to join him in completing the project. We faced a tight schedule, made considerably challenging by the need to re-create all artwork page-by-page in order to guarantee quality reproduction .

Once we learned where this document was due to be presented, we knew it had to be immediately impressive; something special that would refiect the pride and professionalism shared by the design team, the Chairman and the management.

Our ideas involved changing the print specifications entirely to create a VIP-standard presentation. With the whole-hearted support of the lead designer, we revised the specifications to include reproduction at 300 lines per inch, on 250gsm Matt Coated Paper with overall sealer varnish, featuring Spot UV Varnish throughout. This would be bound in handcrafted leather with the company logo embossed on the front cover.

Over the course of 3 days we re-created the 43page A3 artwork to match. This included re-sizing the dimensions and painstakingly re-drawing any architectural fioor-plans to provide the crisp vector based artwork we needed. We carried out all printing and production over the weekend, delivering on-time as requested.

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“The Chairman wants the best possible”
OUR WORK 51

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.

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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.

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/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/mecsdesign

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