The UAE is home to multiple nationalities with differing expectations of how a product should be marketed, designed, or how colour schemes match, or how something should be packaged. The difference is best highlighted by a walk through the aisles of a major supermarket; colours and creative visions clash to the point of being obvious. It is easy to visually separate goods imported from the UK to those locally produced, or indeed from those imported from the Indian sub-continent, or elsewhere.
This diversity has forged two creative markets. The first is the UAE-wide market, one filled with messages from everyday brands selling products such as cars, watches, white goods, and so on. The second is a market of smaller niche markets, one made up of products and services that target specific demographics.
A good example of this is the private education sector. Government funded schools are taught in the Arabic language so it is common for expats of all nationalities to enrol children in private schools. Private schools follow mandated elements of the UAE national curriculum but add their own cultural difference to lessons. Marketing paraphernalia for a school following the Indian curriculum differs greatly to that of one following the British curriculum for example – two niche markets within the overall market of private education.
The UAE has been slow in comparison to the UK when it comes to the adoption of online means of communication, although this is a regional trend rather than one specific to the UAE. This study by the Northwestern University of Qatar, shows online trends in the UAE are following those seen in more developed markets in recent years. As with many aspects of business in the region, this opens the door for experienced firms and consultants to take advantage. The development of the media and advertising industry in the UK gives British firms the advantage of foresight; something local firms in the UAE may not have.
Continuing with the example of private education in the UAE; a UK school with experience of working with British creative firms may struggle when faced with the prospect of working with companies in the UAE with domestic work as sole experience. This is not to say a local firm would produce a lower standard of work, merely to express that working cultures and experiences could be different.
The demand for British standard creativity does not come from a lack of available agencies in the UAE but from the continual expansion of UK business into the country. Just as we Brits enjoy the comforts of home which we find in the UK-goods sections of supermarkets, so does British business find comfort in the familiarity of service UK suppliers offer. It could be said that a creative agency from the UK with digital experience seeking UAE-based clients which market to British expats, has a ready made niche market.