Dubai Skyline

Manchester to Dubai – A Digital Consultant Abroad

Digital Consultancy Comments (1)

On the evening of Monday 7th Sept I landed back on UK soil after a successful 10 day business trip to the current centre of  the world for business, Dubai. For those interested, I was working with 2 businesses during my time in the UAE. A new and used car dealer and a new recruitment/consultancy firm. As a one-man business I could hardly leave my first foreign business trip off the blog.

Apart from the minimum 40°C heat and 95% humidity during my visit, I found Dubai to be a place of varying extremes. Wealth along side equal poverty. Incredible architectural wonders perched on top of desert sand. Transient folks from every nationality you can think of, all trying to make their fortunes. Every brand (literally) under the sun, fighting for the attention and custom of  the 13.2 million yearly visitors and 2.1 million residents. Such a cosmopolitan location is bound to have a huge variety of audience demographics, behaviour and experience of digital technology.

If you are interested in understanding how Dubai uses architecture/construction to create ‘brand Dubai’ then I would encourage you to read Why We Build by Rowan Moore.

I must say, for me, it was it was a baptism by fire but I think any marketer can learn a lot from somewhere like Dubai. The contrasts of huge demand with traditional cultures still not used to modern day marketing makes for an interesting challenge. Despite the huge amount of wealth, Price still appears to be the most important P to get right. It’s fair to say a lot of those over there didn’t become wealthy by spending frivolously. After that a lot of business and deals are based on a human relationship between buyer and seller. As a very personable/social chap, I must admit I like this way of doing business. For me collaboration is a very human behaviour and it relies on the foundations of a good friendship or relationship.

The hospitality I received whilst in Dubai was incredible. I hope to be doing more business in there in the relatively near future and have come back with some great connections, contacts and insights.

Snappy Snaps

I thought it would be nice to share some of my snaps from my time in Dubai. Click on any to see the full size version.

Aston MartinMclaren P1Mercedes G WagonBurj Al ArabView from Burj Al ArabBurj KhalifaView from Burj KhalifaView from Burj KhalifaView from Burj Al KhalifaAquarium at Dubai Mall50th Floor of RestaurantDuck Salad

The State of Digital in the UAE

As part of my client research and prep I had to look into stats to show the uptake of digital/ internet in the UAE. I thought you folks may find the following sources useful if you find yourself looking into the same thing:

This Slideshare deck from the guys at We Are Social proved really useful. I have added my comments under each slide and highlighted figures specific to the UAE:


Internet Usage Dubai UAE

I was suprised to see such a high internet penetration rate for a country with fairly heavy online censorship and regulations.


Ecommerce Usage Dubai UAE

Considering the lack of logistics and e-com infrastructure I was surprised to see this figure so high. Those I talked to said that the e-commerce sites are still very unreliable.


Social Media Usage Dubai UAE

I found out that 60% of UAE residents use Facebook with 93% accessing it on a daily basis. A whopping 72% of Facebook users are Male.


Social Media Usage Dubai UAE

Twitter still has a minor ownership (around 27%) of the social media market in the UAE. I expect that to change in the coming years.


Mobile Commerce Dubai UAE

With a hefty amount of the working population commuting on a daily basis mixed with the high availability of the latest technology, I was not surprised to see this figure was high.



UAE Share of Web Traffic

I was quite surprised to see the laptop/desktop figure drop by 33% whilst the mobile traffic saw a massive 84% increase. Perhaps as mobile phones increase in size they are replacing laptops and tablets in the UAE?


Digital Marketing Dubai UAE

I expect to see most of these figures continue to increase as the population of Abu Dhabi and Dubai increases.


Ecommerce Dubai UAE

Whether the actual buying happens online or offline, it is clear that digital has a real influence during the research phase. Something a lot of businesses over there aren’t capitalising in on.

Featured image by Michael Theis

If you have any thoughts or comments on digital marketing in the UAE or Dubai please pop them below:

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On September 11, 2015