In the last few months, Dubai's has been the muse for newsprint running into millions of characters. Unlike the PR-loaded launch or acquisition news of years past, this global coverage has been less than flattering. But most important of all, it has opened a new set of questions perhaps not asked before. The question of 'transparency' leads the pack by a mile. Followed by a closely clubbed together set of gray areas that range from sovereign debt, to national unity and the future of Dubai's majority expatriate population.
Evidently, and rightfully so, in a bid to consolidate the several public, private and the quasi-public voices that inevitably represent Dubai, a single entity to manage this has been decreed. One ring to rule them all? I certainly hope so.
Recently, an Emirati journalist and commentator on Dubai, Mishaal Gergawi states in his ground-breaking roadmap for Dubai (titled 'Mapping Dubai' found here) there is a burning need for Dubai to understand and then establish what it stands for in the next decade. It's success in attracting the right combination of thinkers and doers in the last couple of decades is legendary. But perhaps this just isn't enough for our generation of Neo-Dubaiites.
June 13, 2009 HH Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has established the Dubai Media Affairs Office 'Brand Dubai' and has appointed Mona Ganem Al Merri as the new entity's Chief Executive Officer, Gulf News reported. The new office was created to coordinate Dubai's strategic media affairs regionally and internationally. Al Merri said the new office is meant to, 'facilitate greater communication and coordination among different organisations that are directly or non-directly responsible for Dubai's image.'
January 10, 2010 Dubai has set up a new office to liaise with local and international media in a bid to boost the emirate's image, according to a decree issue by ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. The department will combine existing state public relations units Dubai Press Club, Falcon & Associates and Brand Dubai in an effort to portray an "accurate picture" of the emirate. The new media office, led by Ahmed Al Shaikh, will "guarantee the highlighting of facts without any vagueness" and "muster all needed resources and capabilities to portray an accurate picture of all what is happening on the ground", according to the statement.
Fantastic I say. To borrow once again from Gergawi, as a recent-cynic of Dubai's vision versus execution dilemma, I have wondered whether this 'new office' will actually get it's hands dirty and present Dubai as it is, rather than as this perfect moon-colony we're used to hearing about. So far, to my delight, the Media Office has been quoted as the single source of information on two monumental press events -- first, the murder of a Hamas leader in a Dubai hotel, followed by Dubai's surprise discovery of oil off it's coast.
Let us hope the Media Office has the authority, leverage, inspiration and intelligence to rise above and talk: openly, accurately and honestly.