Sunday, June 14, 2009

PR office for Brand Dubai

A Dubai Media Affairs Office has been established by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid. An excellent move, although I think it's unfortunate that it wasn't set up six or seven years ago.

Had it been it may have been able to head off, or at least temper, some of the more outrageous articles written about Dubai over that period. It might also have meant that some of the inaccuracies we've seen could have been avoided.

We had years of fawning stories from 'journalists' flown in by Emirates for two or three days, lodged at Emirates Towers or Madinat Jumeirah and given a whistle-stop tour of New Dubai. Their excited, breathless reports were often way over-the-top and all too often carried rumours as fact and too many inaccuracies. Enthusing about the city's traditional souks having seen only Madinat Jumeirah for example.

I suspect it was all simply accepted here because it was positive publicity, but if so that was naive. The western media delights in setting up then chopping down and all that hyperbole was setting Dubai up.

Inevitably, more recently we've seen the other extreme from them, moving from everything's wonderful and perfect to everything's bad and evil.

Had DMAO been in place maybe a more reasonable, accurate course could have been steered than the two extremes we've seen.

With so many negative stories having appeared recently the DMAO starts on the back foot but by being honest, transparent, easily accessible and providing hard facts the situation can be turned around.

The appointment of Mona Al Merri as CEO is good on two counts. One, she has the background and experience the position needs. Two, the simple fact that a female is in the position in itself answers one of the criticisms often directed at the area.




I like some of her comments:

"Dubai Brand will furnish media organisations with solid figures about business activities in the emirate and will make sure to reflect the true picture about what is happening in the country," she said.Dubai Brand is committed to making the access to information easier and elminating speculation about activities in the country.

"The establishment of Dubai Brand is part of a general policy to ensure transparency in all aspects in Dubai."


Solid figures, true picture, transparency, information - I like words like that.

I also agreed with what Gulf News had to say in an editorial today:

Brand Dubai must at all times be careful to ensure that its dealings with the media and others are honest and credible and that its efforts to protect and promote the image of the emirate do not descend into unhelpful propaganda. The success of Brand Dubai will depend on it promoting the emirate's achievements and being honest about its challenges.

She'll have her work cut out though and I'm sure she'll meet some resistance from businesses and officials, but Sheikh Mohammed's backing will help enormously.



Articles from which I've quoted:

Dubai Media Affairs Office created.

GN Editorial.

18 comments:

alexander... said...

Former head of Dubai Press Club and Jiwin Public Relations, the government PR company.

Seabee said...

Indeed Alex. A high flyer with experience and contacts - CEO of Media Services Group, previously PRO for Dubai Shopping Festival, then Summer Surprises, chairwoman and board member of the Dubai Women Establishment, executive director of the Arab Media Forum, a board leader at Young Arab Leaders and secretary general of the Arab Journalism Award.

moryarti said...

You are missing out on one important title she is holding ... which is worth all the above combined.

Anonymous said...

A Dubai Media Affairs Office has been established by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid. An excellent move, although I think it's unfortunate that it wasn't set up six or seven years ago.

Why is it excellent? An unelected dictator decides to upgrade his media operation and you are all a swoon.

Had it been it may have been able to head off, or at least temper, some of the more outrageous articles written about Dubai over that period. It might also have meant that some of the inaccuracies we've seen could have been avoided.

Yes, it probably would, because it would have issued nothing but the unadorned truth without any spin whatsoever, unlike those meddling western journalists with their mischievous motives to do Dubai down.

Their excited, breathless reports were often way over-the-top and all too often carried rumours as fact and too many inaccuracies. Enthusing about the city's traditional souks having seen only Madinat Jumeirah for example.

And what about the local media and their sycophantic, fawning, wholly one sided reporting? Oh yes, I keep forgetting, you are only talking about the western media. Local media is a different matter for you. To be quoted from, sure. But not held up to the same standards.

I suspect it was all simply accepted here because it was positive publicity, but if so that was naive.

It was probably accepted here because alongside the local media, positive, uncritical reporting is all that anyone knows. Certainly it was naive, I can agree with you there.

The western media delights in setting up then chopping down and all that hyperbole was setting Dubai up.

Some parts of it do, that is certainly true. But hardly all of it; there is still a lot of high quality investigative journalism and objective analysis in many western publications. For all its faults, at least the western media is largely independent and can hold politicians and governments to account. Can the same be said of the Dubai media?

Inevitably, more recently we've seen the other extreme from them, moving from everything's wonderful and perfect to everything's bad and evil.

It looks like a trend doesn't it? Either there is some vast western media conspiracy to put Dubai down - jealous western journalists and newspaper proprietors meeting in secret cabals to spin a massive falsehood about Dubai. Or........ wait for it....... there actually might be some truth behind it.

Had DMAO been in place maybe a more reasonable, accurate course could have been steered than the two extremes we've seen.

Seebee - you are such an apologist for an undemocratic, unrepresentative, authoritarian regime! Such a cheerleader for the setting up of a new body to spin the news. What about instead, suggesting that UAE based journalists might have the freedom to print/say whatever they like without fear of harassment, prosecution or worse? Wouldn’t that be a better step in the right direction than rebranding the Emirate’s propaganda department?

With so many negative stories having appeared recently the DMAO starts on the back foot but by being honest, transparent, easily accessible and providing hard facts the situation can be turned around.

You really think that it is going to be "honest, transparent, easily accessible"? Mate, you need to give yourself a reality check and possibly think about getting yourself back to the free world. To suggest that a mouth-piece and media handling unit of a dictatorship is somehow a better guardian of honesty, transparency and accessibility, than the independent western media is really quite astonishing.

What a sycophant you are!

Rootless said...

Ooooh Anonymous, get you!! Well nice to see that I'm not the one to pee in Seabee's coffee this time..
I'm sure Mrs. Gergawi (I think that's what you meant perhaps, moryarti???) and her obedient crew in the local "media" (including, dare I say, the tame expat blogs) will have a rebuttal to Anonymous out soon. Doubtless she will denounce the obvious dastardly western media conspiracy to point out all of the cronyism, corruption and injustice in Dubai (i.e. the truth) instead of all the shiny new..well whatever is shiny and new and almost completed (but just not quite) this week..

Siwash said...

I loved what Anonymous wrote. Due to recent events, many of us are just as bitter as he is with the way Dubai is handling things. However, could someone please update me on Mona Al Marri's FORMER head status of Dubai Press Club and JIWIN? Did they close down or is she not heading it anymore because there is a lot of overlap between those positions and her new one.

Rick said...

I traveled to Dubai last year for business. What an amazing country.

Many people there can live the life of the rich and famous.
http://www.thelifeofluxury.com

Will be fun to see how it progresses and deals with the growing pains.

Anonymous said...

'Solid figures, true picture, transparency, information - I like words like that.'

I like eyeliner like that.

Seabee said...

Anon@9.35 I can't be bothered to answer your comment, other than to say that it misrepresents just about everything I said and brings in subjects which are not included in my post.

I sugggest you read the post again.

Anonymous said...

seabee, i am a new anon in this thread...and actually i have to agree with my fellow anon@9:35 on a lot of counts. hail the fellowship of anon's!

First of all it would be ridiculous to think the this new appointment is going to make any difference to the issues that lead to the negative coverage. The head of PR is not the reason, the fact is that negative things exist here in Dubai, and finally it got some rightful coverage. And to think that fanciful western world set them up, and chopped them down is giving too much credit and intelligence where it is not due.

Many a seasons have come and gone, and it will be ridiculous to think this person is actually going to make a tangible difference to the real issues of Dubai. Good PR starts with a good product, you can sell rubbish with lies for so long.

Anonymous said...

I don't think she is the best choice, but there aren't many people to choose from for that job.

Seabee said...

Anon@5.13 the same applies to your comment as to the previous Anon you admire - read the post again.

You also misrepresent what I said and see things which are not there.

The post is not about what's right and wrong with Dubai, or the media. It's about the setting up of a long overdue media office.

First of all it would be ridiculous to think the this new appointment is going to make any difference to the issues that lead to the negative coverage.
Of course it would, and I didn't say otherwise.

the fact is that negative things exist here in Dubai, and finally it got some rightful coverage...
I agree on both counts and I've said so in relevant posts in the past.

...to think that fanciful western world set them up, and chopped them down is giving too much credit...
I did not say that the western media set the negative things up, I said it set Dubai up and then chopped it down.

it will be ridiculous to think this person is actually going to make a tangible difference to the real issues of Dubai
Of course it would and I didn't say otherwise.

READ THE POST AGAIN!!

Fourteen lines complain about the original fawning stories and only three the later critical ones. I said both types were bad and contained inaccuracies.

I said that a good media office may have been able to to 'head off or temper the more outrageous stories' and could have led to more accurate information being published - refering to both good and bad stories.

This post is about the new media office and something I raise regularly; I want to see accurate information being published, whether here or internationally and regardless of whether it's praise or criticism.

I said that the new PR office must be 'honest, transparent, easily accessible and providing hard facts'

Quoting words used by Al Merri I said: "Solid figures, true picture, transparency, information - I like words like that".
I did not say that I blindly believed it would happen, but I hope that she's true to her word and is allowed to be.

I quoted the GN editorial and said that I agreed when it said the new office must be 'honest and credible and that its efforts...do not descend into unhelpful propaganda. The success...will depend on it promoting the emirate's achievements and being honest about its challenges.'


Here's the problem. People, very often Anons, don't bother to read what posts are about, not just mine but all over the blogosphere.
They have a particular boat to row, ignore what's written, twist it to something that's not there simply so that they can state their own opinion.

Here's an example from the earlier dickhead, quoting me:"Inevitably, more recently we've seen the other extreme from them, moving from everything's wonderful and perfect to everything's bad and evil."

Read it. I complained about both extremes of stories about Dubai.

But dickhead pretends to see it as a complaint about negative stories and wites the infantile comment... It looks like a trend doesn't it? Either there is some vast western media conspiracy to put Dubai down - jealous western journalists and newspaper proprietors meeting in secret cabals to spin a massive falsehood about Dubai. Or........ wait for it....... there actually might be some truth behind it.

Think about that crass comment. As I complained equally about the overly pro-Dubai stories, this is saying that there actually might be some truth in them.

If, like dickhead, you want to raise issues - you correctly say that 'negative things exist here in Dubai' - why don't you have your own blog where you highlight them? I and many other bloggers do just that, we have hundreds of readers a day from all over the world so we publicise the issues.

The same applies to dickhead. He (or she) lives here (I don't understand why, given the obvious hatred for the place) and simply comments on a blog about his/her hatred for the political system and the media instead of writing about it on his/her own blog.

Rootless said...

Seabee, maybe, just maybe, people aren't willing to accept your ludicrous attempt to disassociate obviously directly connected points. Just look at every other response to your post here in this chain (other than that from your fellow travelling sell-out Alexander). One way or another they all address the larger context of this appointment. It's only you that insists on maintaining that the discussion must revolve on some irrelevant pinhead of sophistry. I thought Anon was overstating the point in dismissing you as a sycophant but your defensive diatribe indicates he hit quite a sore spot. I used to enjoy your blog but it seems I am not alone in my disappointment at your increasing disingenuousness and, if I'm frank, your outright intellectually dishonesty. Shame.

Seabee said...

On the contrary Rootless, it's your association of different subject matter that's ludicrous.

I post often with criticism of things in Dubai, from the laws to the implementation of them, to sentences handed down by the courts, to lack of or bad planning, to the treatment of workers, to the bad service we get from government entities, to the poor and inaccurate 'journalism - the list goes on and on.

This post was not about them and to criticise it, and me, for that is nonsense.

The post is not about the larger context, nor is it 'irrelevant pinhead of sophistry'. I wrote that the media had for years been giving inaccurate coverage to Dubai, both praise and criticism, and that if the new Media Office was honest, transparent, easily accessible and providing hard facts, as the CEO said it would be, then maybe a more accurate course between the two extremes could be steered.

That was the extent of the post, it was not about press freedom, the UAE's style of government or fantasies about western media conspiracies.

Here's an example of the crap from the first Anon, which you think it's ludicrous to denounce:
"you are such an apologist for an undemocratic, unrepresentative, authoritarian regime! Such a cheerleader for the setting up of a new body to spin the news."

What does that have to do with what I actually said in the post?

How is what I said or my response to the comment intellectually dishonest?

And how is answering abuse and unfounded accusations "defensive"?

Anonymous said...

seabee, i would like to point out that you go into lots of pointers and suggestions based around the crux of your post. and if anyone does not agree with you on these sub points, or point out that it is naivety to actually think that this PR head is actually going to make any difference with the larger issues facing the system, then you have apoplexy. like you were talking about dubai being set up, and brought down by western media. when you beat around the busy, expect people to look at the bigger picture and comment on it, and not just get lost in some glorious new PR head.

then you say now "That was the extent of the post, it was not about press freedom, the UAE's style of government or fantasies about western media conspiracies". your argument does not seem to hold that you just said the new PR head will help. In the process you made several allusions, whether you see it or not.

Anonymous said...

Guys,
Any idea on how to contact the new body or Ms. Marri?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Apparently this new office is meant to find, not be found. Or was it not implemented?

Seabee said...

Anon@4.08 I've been asking myself the same question. All the bad publicity, especially about the Dubai World debt problem and the Abu Dhabi bailout, and where was the media office?

All we've heard is individuals squealing about the foreign media running an anti-Dubai campaign.