The MENA Power List 2021: 2021 till infinity, by Cicero & Bernay’s Ahmad Itani

By Ahmad Itani, Founder & CEO of Cicero & Bernay Communication Consultancy.

years in role: 3 | years in company: 15 | other roles: Chairman of PRCA MENA and ICCO Middle East President

Much has been discussed of the challenges over the past few years that have fundamentally changed the way we regard one another and the way the world operates. Yet, what are most overlooked are the lessons that are established as a result, which paint a brighter picture for posterity and create a roadmap upon which future generations can reflect and progress.

The MENA region, led by the UAE and KSA as two of the first nations to re-energise their respective economies post-pandemic, presents an ideal platform for advancement.

From this standpoint, it is fortunate that we are in a region that is continuously adapting and evolving to keep pace with the world, and, at times, lead conversations of change and progress. This is a fact that is made all the more relevant by a report published by PWC Middle East that positions artificial intelligence (AI) as a game changer in business, contributing $15.7 trillion to the world economy and $9.6bn to the UAE economy by 2030. In Egypt, for example, the information and communications technology (ICT) sector is extremely  robust, with a growth rate higher than the county’s overall level of GDP growth, equivalent to 15.2 per cent in the fiscal year 2019/2020.

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All this presents a breeding ground of technological advancements that not only caters to the fast-evolving digital present, whose overarching effects we are still learning to grasp, but also packages itself as a protracted language that Gen Z is consistently proving more versed in. The true balance of power is in the hands of this current, younger generation as the excavators of the future who, unlike millennials and baby boomers, are more independent and financially sustainable, given the tools they have and their outwards mentality.

For us at Cicero & Bernay, we recognised this shift and had begun addressing it in anticipation of the present. We pre-emptively introduced a digital chapter to our public relations efforts, expanded our team with a complement of digital-native professionals, and conceived and offered 360-degree, holistic solutions to transcend our modus operandi from an agency to a communication consultancy. We also integrated and diversified our tools to further understand permeating trends across strategic digital platforms and supported this growth with a production team to present turnkey solutions.

While the pandemic was reaching concerning thresholds, we were advancing our techniques to adapt to a world whose frequency of change had no precedent. Among the many services we developed, we employed programmatic innovations and processes to take advantage of artificial intelligence and deliver optimal results for clients through an intrinsic navigation of the digital world.

Could this have been done somewhere else in the world? Perhaps. However, the region, and the UAE specifically, presented an environment through which such growth is not only facilitated but encouraged, with features including world-class infrastructure and excellent healthcare services.

What all this means is that – coupled with our need to continuously advance and attain new knowledge – the MENA region is presenting a quintessential environment that nurtures innovation and progress across all industries so that the future is made all the more closer and the next evolutionary step can be predicted and worked towards. But without the potential to realise our own and one another’s dreams, all this change would be restricted to papers and studies that only project the path that we are on.

We sought the guidance to inspire the change we want in ourselves and our children; little did we know that we would be actively drafting the blueprint for a new beginning that has retconned what we know in lieu of an unpredictable yet more rewarding tomorrow.

Professional highlight of the year

2021 has been an exceptional year of recovery, during which Cicero & Bernay expanded its portfolio of key government clients, automotive and pharmaceutical leaders, real estate giants and premier tech brands. This was made possible through the efforts of our dedicated, impassioned team, who took up every challenge they faced and ensured our growth.

Rapid fire

What are you working on?

What are you worrying about?
My kids’ futures.

What are you smiling at?
My team, who make me proud every day.

What are you reading?
Everything, but I recommend Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Sapiens, and Ikigai.

What are you watching?
The Loudest Voice, again, and I am really looking forward to Succession.

What are you eating?
Salads, salads, salads.

What are you listening to?

What are you playing?
Chess; always have, always will.

What’s your hobby?
Chess, reading, and Lego.

What’s your good habit?

What’s your bad habit?

Who are you learning from?