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Creating a Voice: Communications Capacity Building in the Middle East by Mohamed Al-Ayed
 

Creating a Voice: Communications Capacity Building in the Middle East by Mohamed Al-Ayed

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ICCO Summit 2013 Presentation by Mohamed Al-Ayed, CEO of TRACCS, the biggest independent communications group in the Middle East and North Africa. The presentation was delivered on 11th October 2013.

ICCO Summit 2013 Presentation by Mohamed Al-Ayed, CEO of TRACCS, the biggest independent communications group in the Middle East and North Africa. The presentation was delivered on 11th October 2013.

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  • Global perceptions are determined by media coverage of various regions, which either create empathies or reduce a region to easily communicated stereotypes. This is what we mean by the limits of empathy.
  • For example, whereas the media has historically presented a holistic picture of the developed world portraying these societies in human terms that elicit empathy…This is obviously accomplished not only through news coverage but through Hollywood movies, television, global marketing strategies, and now through social media…
  • …the media have traditionally presented the Middle East (and other “undeveloped” or “developing” regions) through Catastrophe Coverage – natural disasters, riots, assassinations, revolutions, plagues, famines, etc., casting people as either villains or victims. And again, movies and television reinforce these stereotypes…Middle East governments didn’t make things easy…
  • The turning point was the first Gulf War.
  • Over the last decade, due to brilliant marketing strategies, the picture is beginning to change…This is not because the media was suddenly more receptive but because the people of the region were becoming more acutely aware of the importance of image in a globalizing world.
  • Outsiders still tend to see the region in monolithic terms but it is actually incredibly diverse!
  • 9/11 changed the world and the Arab world in particular. One effect was that Arab countries began to seriously consider the role of image.Oil revenues still ruled but governments began to seriously consider diversification.The population explosion through the 1980s and ‘90s had changed the demographics and economics of the region.A DRAMATIC RISE IN UNEMPLOYMENTAt that time most corporate maps would show concentrations of activity in the Americas, Europe and Asia with the Middle East and Africa a blank except for, perhaps a dot or two in Dubai and Johannesburg. From 2005 the Dubai experiment (which had been going on for 20 years) coincided with a unprecedented continued rise in oil revenues precipitating a regional development boom valued at $2 trillion just before the crash in 2008. Countries that had been introverted were now developing tourism sectors and developing their global images. Hundreds of television and radio channels appeared.Countries launched nationalization programsSocial media revolution kicked in about the same time as the recessionAll the above factors contributed to the Arab Spring.
  • This is largely because global PR companies are set up as “money machines that do PR”. They don’t have the time or remit for capacity-building.