The Annual 2020: Top 10 movers and shakers

  1. In June it was announced that Nadim Samara would be leaving Omnicom Media Group. He had been CEO since June 2019, and headed up OMG agency OMD before that. Elie Khouri, the group’s executive chairman, added the function of CEO to his role, a title he held until Samara’s promotion last year. In November, Maroun Hassoun was named regional general manager of OMD MENA.
  2. Publicis Groupe announced the departure of Kamal Dimachkie, chief operating officer of Publicis Communications– UAE and Lower Gulf, in October. Dimachkie was a senior executive who joined Leo Burnett in February 1985. The Groupe has appointed Samer Shoueiry to assume the COO role in conjunction with his current responsibilities as the chief digital officer of Publicis Communications Middle East.
  3. Dimachkie was not the first high-level departure from Publicis Groupe this year. In January, chief creative officer Bechara Mouzannar left. He too had been with the Groupe for more than 30 years.
  4. As part of a global restructure, WPP PR agency Hill + Knowlton Strategies’ Europe and Nordics operations now answer to Dubai-based Bashar Alkadhi. Alkadhi was previously CEO of METIA (Middle East, Turkey, India and Africa), and retains leadership of those countries as well, in his new role as CEO of H+K EMEAx.
  5. Regional broadcasting giant MBC Group launched its own media sales operation, MBC Media Solutions (MMS). In November it announced its senior management including chief operating officer Nadim Samara (previously CEO at OMG) and CEO Ahmed Al Sahhaf (who was general manager of consumer marketing at Saudi telco STC). In December, Mazen Hayek, MBC’s official spokesman and group director of PR and CSR, left the company.
  6. Adil Khan, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Middle East, stepped down in April, handing leadership to Ramzi Sleiman. Sleiman, the regional growth director of Publicis Communications MEA, assumed the role of managing director of the creative agency. In October, Khan announced that he would be opening a regional office of Brand New Galaxy, a marketing and tech agency, along with Zubair Siddiqi, former managing director of UM MENA in Dubai.
  7. After 25 years with WPP’s J. Walter Thompson network, Ramsey Naja stepped down as regional chief creative officer of Wunderman Thompson in June. He had been CCO for 17 years. He continues his popular column with Campaign.
  8. Interpublic Group of Companies’ Initiative media agency, part of the Middle East Communications Network in the region, has a new CEO, Bassem Massoud, who will continue as sister agency Magna’s CEO as well. His new role was announced in October, shortly after Lee Boden, regional managing director of Initiative, left the agency.
  9. Industry veteran Shant Oknayan in June joined ByteDance, the parent company of video sharing platform TikTok, as general manager of global business solutions across the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT). Oknayan was previously group director of Facebook in the region. Other hires at TikTok include Sami Moutran as senior director of business marketing and communications, and Fahad Osman as regional director of global business marketing.
  10. Aimee Peters has returned to the region as group head of marketing and corporate communications at Mashreq Bank. She was previously head of marketing for global B2B coverage and capital markets at HSBC, a company she joined in Dubai in 2010.