Khaled Rashed AlShehhi
Executive director, marketing and communications, The UAE Government Media Office
Director of digital marketing at The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives
Years in current position: 6
Years with organisation: 6
• Executive director of digital communications, Public Diplomacy Office
• Director of digital marketing, World Government Summit
• Director of managed services solutions, Etisalat
• The World’s Tallest Donation Box
• 10 Million Meals
• The Well of Hope
• The First Arabic Countdown
• Mars Shot
• The Emirates Nation Brand/Impossible Is Possible
Our work has won awards this year (4 Wins and 1 Gold in Shorty Social Good Awards; 6 Cresta Awards; an Honoree Webby Award; and more than 40 finalists), but the other achievement is the pride of changing lives. Concretely, that is 10 million votes (and 10 million trees) for the Emirates’ Nation Brand campaign, water for 1 million people with The Well of Hope initiative and 1.2 million meals with the World’s Tallest Donation Box.
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What is your objective in your current role?
To inspire people at home and abroad to fulfil their ambitions, through our creative approach to nation branding and public diplomacy.
Do you have a guiding principle?
Aim higher and you will achieve greater.
How do you make agency relationships work?
Treat everyone with respect and honesty, in a spirit of shared ownership of the product of your partnership.
What have you learned from a specific failure?
When I face a challenge, I tend to learn a hard lesson that will ultimately lead to success.
What work do you wish you had done?
A marketer’s job is to move people, emotionally and physically, and inspire them to take an action. Nike does a superb job of this and I love their work, like their “You Can’t Stop Us” video.
Who inspires you professionally?
People with the ability to go beyond what is and envision what could be, challenging themselves and testing their limits to achieve excellence.
How has Covid-19 changed your business?
Our resolve, our mission, has remained unchanged. The way it has been expressed in terms of projects and how our work has been organised have changed somewhat. We’re driven by the long term rather than the next quarter.
What is the biggest challenge in marketing at the moment?
Making people fall in love with advertising again.
What is the next big trend in marketing?
It will undoubtedly be technology-led, artificial intelligence will be part of it and it will be driven by effectiveness. For me, it is predictive marketing, even faster than real-time.
What can we expect to see from you and your brand in the
One thing is for sure: We will be celebrating the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, marking the 50th anniversary of the nation. Even though there is more and more tech and automation in marketing, we will be even more human and individual in our communications.
Mounir Harfouche, CEO, MullenLowe MENA
Khaled has played a significant role as a key driver behind many innovative government initiatives over the last 12 months. His achievements are not limited to the efficiency and impact of the campaigns he is behind; his achievements stand to continuously drive the mindset of purposeful creativity. I believe his main success is the ability to think as a brand, from a government point of view, while communicating strategically and creatively. This allows for his campaigns to resonate with people in a unique way, simultaneously creating populist movements.
I’ve had the chance to work alongside Khaled for almost a year. We achieved the bulk of our work together during the Covid-19 lockdown and have worked on many great initiatives together.
From our growing number of collaborations, the one I am most proud of is also the one most recognised. The World’s Tallest Donation Box was an impossible task with a beautiful outcome. It was executed during Ramadan and while the country was in total lockdown. Despite the many challenges and limitations, we managed to deliver a large-scale integrated campaign with significant results that provided relief to so many people in need. Khaled played a major role in making the campaign a success.
Khaled represents what the nation stands for: ‘Impossible is possible.’ He is one of the most hardworking people I have had the pleasure to work alongside, and if he believes in an idea he is ready to take risks and challenge any obstacle to bring that idea to life. This quality is valuable and extremely rare to find. Khaled does not compromise, and that’s truly what it takes to achieve the impossible. He thinks holistically, and if you analyse any of his campaigns you’ll see how functionally integrated they are. Khaled also possesses a unique way of inspiring creativity and innovation, in addition to a strong instinct towards knowing what will work and what won’t.
On a personal level, I’ve learned that passion is and will always be the key driver of change. Then come commitment and hard work to make things happen. On a professional level, I’ve learned that sometimes the simplest of human ideas can also be the greatest if you know how to look at them beyond one channel or touchpoint. To create impact, one needs to scream and not whisper – loud enough that millions can hear and feel your message. Finally, I’ve learned that the most relevant ideas aren’t necessarily the result of a brief, but the result of a constructive conversation and the drive to create something meaningful.
What are you working on?
Finishing my master of Laws – LLM, International Business at Université Panthéon Assas (Paris II).
Who are you following?
HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
What are you craving?
The Spartan Race in the Alps.
What are you hiding from?
Sugar and sweets.
How are you playing?
Discovering new hikes every weekend.
What are you listening to?
Hack to Start, a podcast focused on interesting people and the innovative ways they achieve success.
What are you reading?
The Naked Diplomat by Tom Fletcher.
What are you watching?
Where are you isolating?
In the gym.
What did you learn over lockdown?
Professionally, that remote work works. Personally, that we need more kindness in this world and our families around us.
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