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Marketing Game Changers 2023: Sholto Douglas-Home, Chief Sales & MarComms Officer, Expo City Dubai

Marketing Game Changers is back, to recognise and celebrate those brand-building marketing leaders who have made a huge impact this year.

This exclusive list features the men and women who we feel have shaped our industry this year, and includes a wide array of brands, campaigns and their achievements.

The prestigious top 10 includes four women, three Saudi based brands, an abundance of creativity, plus a strong focus on sustainability.


Chief Sales & MarComms Officer, Expo City Dubai
Years in current position: 3
Years with current company: 3
Size of department: 50

What is your objective in your current role?

As Chief Sales & MarComms Officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, I was responsible for promoting the event, which attracted 24 million visitors over 182 days.

I’m now working with a talented team to build on Expo’s legacy with Expo City Dubai – an innovation-driven city of the future, packed with educational, cultural and entertainment offerings, and host of COP28. It’s a fascinating marketing challenge to move from delivering a six-month mega-event to defining, positioning and building a new city for the next six centuries.

What is your guiding principle?

I often turn to the mantra “nothing is ever as good or as bad as it first seems” – it either helps curb my tendency to get wildly overenthusiastic about things or get my mind around any crushing disappointments or head-spinning challenges.

How do you make agency relationships work?

I spent a decade working in agencies and understand the pressures of being on that side of the table – it’s certainly true that collaboration and trust are key to unlocking creativity.

But the explosion of Martech tools means clients now turn to highly technical experts to analytically assess their agency’s performance, which changes the dynamics of the traditional agency-client relationship model.

Who inspires you professionally?

I am inspired daily by the remarkable leader at the helm of our organisation – Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, CEO, Expo City Dubai Authority and a key member of the UAE Cabinet.

Her Excellency is a formidable force of nature, with an awe-inspiring intellect, but also immensely approachable, humble and a true inspiration to every one of the Expo City tribe.

What is the biggest challenge in marketing at the moment?

We’re certainly seeing how AI is having a hugely beneficial impact on media optimisation. However, it is AI’s disruptive impact on the ownership and management of creative assets which is causing concern. Regulators must ensure transparency and accountability, so AI becomes an ally for creative communities, not the enemy.

What is the next big opportunity?

We are proud to be the host of the upcoming COP28, and see Expo City as a natural and logical venue for a major climate conference. As a city built on sustainable values and behaviours, our recently released decarbonisation roadmap sets a new benchmark for growing urban centres, while also contributing to the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative.

What can we expect to see from you and your brand in the next year?

Dubai has always been a city of firsts, but launching and building a brand identity for an entirely new city within a city is a challenge that does not come along often. Brands come and go, but cities house, shape, educate, inspire, intrigue and protect us over lifetimes.

Our upcoming campaigns encompass all aspects of urban living and working, and range from real estate launches to engaging with new city tenants and promoting our ‘Winter City’ and ‘Hai Ramadan’ experiences. And, as an innovation hub, we are looking forward to hosting the region’s fi rst Artifi cial Intelligence Film Festival (AIFF) in early 2024.

Who/what are you listening to?

Dubai Eye’s Business Breakfast is a must for me in the mornings. In the car, it’s my eclectic, random mix of Apple Music downloads built up over many years.