Associate vice-president, consumer advocacy, Dubai Economy and Tourism
Additional positions: Founder of Nateeja marketing agency; e7 founder & board member; development editor of E-Sail magazine
Years in current position: 1
Years with company: 9
Size of department: 18
Dubai Economy and Tourism for 9 years , previously in PR and C2C since 2016.
Prior to that, Masdar, and before that, Dubai Holding.
• Destination campaign with Karim Benzema (globally focused).
• Worked with Shaun White to showcase three areas of Dubai to explore.
• Mall Alone with Tom Felton.
• Martin Lawrence with the family-focused trip.
• Gamification programme with the CIS market, focused on driving searches and bookings to Dubai.
• Kayak city guide – Dubai is the first city to have been selected for this.
• Expo (let’s not forget that). Had over
400 influencers, celebs and key opinion leaders (KOLs) including for a mega GCC fam trip
What is your objective in your current role?
To strategise, implement and execute always-on and data-driven programmes focused on consumer marketing curating tactical, seasonal and niche campaigns that help drive visitation to the city of Dubai. This is done either directly with the content produced (by us or others), through content creators, KOLs and celebs and through the platforms we run or co-own.
Do you have a guiding principle?
Absolutely. My two favourites are ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’ and ‘never look back unless its to see how far along you’ve come’.
How do you make agency relationships work?
People – everything starts with people. Building relationships with those who have the same ethos as you. Every connection, meeting and project is about give and take, so if you and your agency don’t speak the same language there’s no respect and the outcome won’t be good for either side.
What work do you wish you had done?
Oooh, interesting. Well I studied journalism so I’ve done writing, advertising, PR, social marketing, influencer marketing and TV presenting. I guess radio is probably one element I would love to try, or perhaps expanding a podcast series.
Who inspires you professionally?
Everyone all the time, I learn from the big guys on top all the way to my kids. Someone will always be able to show you something different, something new and it’s up to you to open up your mind and realise if this is something you want to engage with.
What is the biggest challenge in marketing at the moment?
The clutter of opinions, channels and formats. You need to cut through the noise of so much and people’s attention span is getting shorter so its no longer 360-degree marketing, its 360 +++.
What is the next big opportunity in marketing?
I’ve got three: 1) Customer experiences and curating their stories; and 2) employee engagement – so, again, people, but really using them as core ambassadors; and 3) visual content story telling, so using the likes of Pinterest to really grow.
What can we expect to see from you and your brand in the next year?
Dubai’s story is woven in the fabric of the people who live in it and visit it – we always have something up our sleeves. All I can say is sit back and enjoy it because it’ll be an interesting couple of years.
Running a strong Emirati force of up-and-coming marketers who are driven to deliver data-driven content that helps meet Dubai’s overall objectives of 25 million visitors by 2025.
Over 40 per cent of DET programmes are focused on lead-to-search, so working with KOLs and content creators, but the content
sits on platforms that drive searches and potential bookings.
Worked with more than 800 celebs, influencers and KOLs since the start of the year.
Diversified our portfolio of activities, including gamification, so we don’t just do the typical visit Dubai itinerary and post and close the books.
Expanded the number of markets so the learning curve is different and better.
- What are you working on?
It’s always a secret until it isn’t.
- Who are you following?
News sites (BBC mainly and The National); HH MBZ, HH MBR and HH Sheikh Hamdan.
- What are you craving?
- What are you hiding from?
Drama and dramatic people.
- What app are you glued to?
WhatsApp – I run over 22 groups on two phones from project groups to my kids’ groups and another 50 that I am a participant in, so I’m a bit busy.
- What are you playing?
MatchMasters and Words 2, and let’s not forget Padel tennis (with my husband, friends, kids and various other Padel enthusiasts).
- What are you listening to?
Reggaeton with Khaleeji music.
- What are you reading?
A Man Called Ove by
- What are you watching?
Currently my weight.
- Where are you travelling?
Last travel was to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.
- What is your good habit?
Linking conversations, people and programmes to get a macro view of everything.
- What is your bad habit?
Sylvia Shohdi, business lead, Starcom
I have had the pleasure and honour to work with Aida for more than eight years now. Aida has been an instrumental marketer and leader who vastly contributed to the success of our marketing campaigns, which led to growth in tourist numbers in the last year. Aida has worked with some of the most notable celebs in the world – young, new, old and interesting – in the last 12 months, developing strategies that push the boundary of normal influencer marketing. For the gamification programme that was run for the CIS market, we worked on creating a special game that used KOLs and influencers to both visit Dubai and create content, and to push the game back in market. The concept was to gamify Dubai and engage the audience to push summer traffic. The results garnered more than 120 per cent success and will be used as a benchmark for future gamification projects.
As part of the core team from DET that ran the international marketing for Expo, Aida and her team were instrumental in running special influencer and celeb campaigns working closely with Expo and the pavilions directly, including a 40+ delegation of GCC influencers for the last two-week push.
Aida worked on the M(all) Alone concept, which featured actor Tom Felton. Dubai Mall was used as the sub destination, where it looked like Tom was stuck alone in the mall and then proceeded to discover all the things one could do if one had a chance.
I am most proud of work work together on Dubai Presents, a global campaign that positioned the city as an entertainment property, as Hollywood actors Zac Efron and Jessica Alba acted their way across six films in different genres. The campaign delivered 770 million video views and 90.6 million organic views on talent channels.