menu

Middle East New Media Trends: PSFK Interviews Danish Farhan

Middle East New Media Trends: PSFK Interviews Danish Farhan
Advertising

PSFK recently caught up with Dubai's Danish Farhan, CEO of Xische, a cutting edge branding boutique located in Dubai and New York City, to discuss new media trends in the Middle East.

Plus Aziz
  • 23 august 2010

Not many individuals in the Middle East can speak with as much authority as Dubai’s Danish Farhan, CEO of Xische. Having lived in Dubai for well over 20 years, and having a client roster that boasts the region’s leading brands, he offers insight into the future of media in the Middle East and the growing role of technology in the region.

Tell us about the advertising landscape in a post-recession Dubai?

Put simply, things have changed dramatically… all for the better.

While consumer spending receded initially with the recession, the real winners in Dubai have been the clients. Advertisers now have more interesting and cost-effective alternatives to consider. Meanwhile, on the consumer front, there has been a collective acceptance of the ‘web-as-a-tool’ paradigm in Dubai. Clients are spending much less, but are building real value online and mobile engagement with customers now open to this new dialog. Local research proves this with astonishing glory.

At Xische, we have focused on connecting the dots between brand and digital for a while now. Clients now engage our expertise much earlier in the food chain. This makes for better informed go-to-market strategies and a far more effective brand footprint that is highly customized. We love not having to convince clients to rethink convention; fringe-tactics within the UAE’s advertising landscape are now decidedly mainstream.

How is the Middle East adapting to digital communications?

The digital trend of ‘instant-everything’ (or ‘nowism’ as we call it) has crept up as a result of an entire generation growing up with access to free downloads, instant Wikipedia referencing, Google searches, and status updates. The shift arrived later than the more connected Western nations, but is exploding at an alarming rate. The Middle Eastern user base — and this has been confirmed by recent surveys — is a very heavily peer-induced demographic.

Appearances matter considerably, and usage of new tools like social media, mobile and AR are being driven with similar motives. The slower adopters have been the brands themselves, as old-school managers battle to realize ‘digital’ means more than just a microsite, banner ad or SMS campaign. Some key brands have taken the leap, and garnered spectacular results.
Social Media: the country’s first international feature film ‘City of Life‘, and the region’s fastest growing financial institution RAKBANK. At last count, we found more than 400 UAE-based companies that were on Twitter alone. There is no doubt social media has been the most noticeably prominent trend with up to 20% monthly user base growth.

Mobile as a platform: mobile is still in its infancy, but it will pick up going by the rate of inquiries we get daily from major brand names eager to capitalise. We know for a fact that 1 in 4 mobile subscriptions in the country are 3G data enabled; that makes for a captive market that simply hasn’t been exposed to the merits of mobile access at arm’s length, 24/7. While we see mobile sites being embraced by the big players like Emirates, Du, and daily newspapers, the majority of organisations have yet to think about their mobile strategy.

Apps are gaining momentum with the growing market penetration of iDevices (iPod, iPhone, iPad) and Android-powered phones. When we launched the Formula 1 app last year for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, we were met with some interesting reactions, including our favorite: “We didn’t know you could load apps from the UAE!” A testament to this is Abu Dhabi government’s media zone twofour54 launching an initiative called AppsArabia — a dedicated marketplace for app developers and end-clients to communicate. They’ve gone as far as launching an App Fund for developers with innovative ideas in need of seed funding.

Augmented reality
has been the slowest to grab the attention of brands. This is largely due to the innate complexity of the concept of AR, which makes it difficult for most brand managers to comprehend conceptually and then later sell to their management. The only real implementation in this market so far has been with a leading American automotive brand and a few publications.

Arabic Digital Content: I think the real push from the UAE and increasingly Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, will be scale of Arabized content produced in the near future. This will undoubtedly have an impact on a global level. There is only so much Western-driven context that is acceptable to the general audience using social media or mobile apps. For uptake to grow exponentially, culturally relevant, language sensitive content is key.

What current/emerging trends make you optimistic about the future?

We’re excited to finally see locally-conceived brands being accepted by both the business community and end-customers. Dubai, despite its glittering lifestyle studded with international brand names, has largely been borrowed from the rest of the world. With the exception of government-linked entities, few home-grown brands have managed to break ground internationally. This is changing and we’re happy to be a part of that evolution in Dubai where indigineous talent and ideas are paying off.

What other designers, thinkers or companies are inspiring you these days?

We’ve always been fans of the IDEO team; we think they personify what we aspire to become for this region.

Mishaal Al Gergawi, an Emirati commentator and writer has caught our attention with his approach of challenging the status quo socially, economically and culturally in the UAE. Television’s silent phenomenon Mad Men has really made us stop and rethink the way the world around us determines so much of what we think we know, and in turn, do. Highly inspiring for its extraordinary cultural, political and stylistic debate.

Anything else you would like to add?

If there is one thing Dubai’s version of the recession has done, it’s weeded out the ‘overnight’ players in the media industry. This city has long been popular for its ‘middle-man’ approach whereby a company, no matter what their focus, claimed to undertake a task nomatter what the required expertise for the job. Back-door outsourcing agreements thrived, driving little or no value for clients. It is refreshing to see this entire ecosystem dismantling rapidly, leaving companies that actually care about what they do for their clients. Intent, nomatter how small, makes all the difference.

Thanks Danish!

Danish Farhan

Xische

Advertising
Trending

Editorial Roundtable: What A People-First Workplace Must Prioritize First

Work
Syndicated Today

What Could The Highway Of The Future Look Like?

As technology for automated vehicles improves, there’s a sharper focus on building a ‘smarter’ infrastructure where they can thrive

Design Today

Plastic Wind Trees Are Bringing Sustainable Power To Residential Homes

These French-made turbines are offering a small, aesthetically pleasing approach to affordable personal energy

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Home Today

Dyson’s Wi-Fi Connected Fan Purifies, Cools & Heats The Air

The new luxury home appliance aims to be an all-in-one device for the connected home

Education Today

Bringing Virtual Reality And Telepresence Robotics To E-Learning

This Learning Management System is embracing new technologies to reallocate teaching resources to where they should be going

PURPLELIST EXPERTS

Grant McCracken

Consumer Behaviour, Research, Anthropology

Advertising Today

Brewing Company Turns Car Emissions Into Ink

Tiger Beer has created a sustainable process to transform air pollution into supplies for street art

Design Today

Space-Saving Sofa Has Extra Furniture Hidden Inside

Living in an apartment with limited space? This three-in-one bed transforms based on your needs

Culture Today

Browser Extension Blocks Any Pages That Make You Unhappy

The software can detect your facial movements and prevent content that brings up negative emotions

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 23, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Automotive Today

Reserve Your Parking Spot Before You Even Get Behind The Wheel

A new Ford app allows drivers to select and arrange for a space in a garage to be available at the end of their journey, so they can travel worry-free

Work Today

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: The Desk Is Becoming An Ecosystem Of Satellite Workstations

Our Future of Work vision is an app that frees employees from the tyranny of a static desk

Food Today

A Tiny Amount Of This Powder Could Block All The Bitterness In Food

A new substance made from mushrooms can bond with taste receptors on your tongue to overcome unpleasant flavors

Asia Today

Whimsical Dental Clinic Design Aims To Calm Patient Fears

Cheerful colors and a nod to the comforts of home are design elements tactfully aimed to help people relax

Mobile Today

Messenger Service Only Delivers You Updates Three Times A Day

Formal is a new app designed to help people ignore the constant stream of texts from their phone and focus on what's in front of them

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Design Today

Movable Vacation House Constructed Using Concrete Boxes

The 4,000 square foot building is made up of modular frames so it can be relocated if needed due to coastline erosion

Design Today

Redesigned Electric Fan Collapses For Easy Storage

Conbox can be kept in pieces and packed away when not in use

Ai Today

LawyerBot Is Now Helping Homeless People Qualify For Government Housing

This robot helps people get out of parking tickets and provides free legal advice to those in need

No search results found.