The Middle East is deeply exciting and never stands still. Sami Joost supported the Communication & Public Affairs department of Bayer Middle East for three months, during which he developed a strategic change communication approach for the region.
A quote from Ibn Battuta, a scholar renowned throughout the Arab world, has stuck with me over the last few years:
Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.
My venture into a new professional challenge began with a confidential meeting.
In July 2018, my team leader offered me the opportunity to put my regular duties on hold and support the Bayer Communication & Public Affairs department in the Middle East on an interim basis.
The initial request came directly from our colleagues at Bayer Middle East. Just a few years prior, in 2016, I had the opportunity to work with them at their offices in Dubai to establish a social media strategy and then launch a Facebook page, which now has more than 500,000 followers, boasts a solid engagement rate and provides relevant content to a broad target group (more on “target groups” in just a moment). This apparently made a lasting impression on them.
Before making my final decision, there was one more important conversation I needed to have – with my wife. But she was enthusiastic, too, supporting me from the very beginning and encouraging me to seize this opportunity.
So I accepted the offer and less than two weeks later I was on a plane heading to Dubai. When I arrived, I was met with a picture different to the one I had encountered in 2016. But before I go into the challenge that awaited me, here are a few facts and figures about the Middle East region.
The Middle East is emblematic of such change, marked by rapid growth and progress.
For example, in preparation for Expo 2020, Dubai is trailblazing new technologies to drive long term growth, ranging from fintech to artificial intelligence and even agriculture – with opportunities for the wider region.
With an expected increase in foreign direct investments in the coming years, the business environment is expected to improve even further. According to the latest PWC Middle East Economy Report it is a similar story for portfolio investments, which have already benefited from market reforms, and with MSCI adding Saudi Arabia to its benchmark Emerging Markets Index, this could sharply increase inflows into the region as a whole.
Egypt is also moving in a good direction. The World Bank expects economic activity to improve and imbalances are projected to narrow further. Real GDP is forecast to grow by 5% in FY18, and to increase gradually to 5.8% by FY20.
Interested how the journey continued? Here it goes to the second part.
This post is also available in: German