The issue of increasing rental prices across Dubai is having a Rental pricesprofound impact on people’s lives. Over the past few months, the huge changes we have witnessed in the real estate market characterised by a massive growth in property prices are placing a great burden on the city’s residents.

In my experience, there are a growing number of individuals and families who although have lived happily in Dubai for many years are now facing up to the possibility of not being able to pay the new rental prices being forced on them and face having to move out of their apartments. The commonly shared experience I am hearing about is the dread for the contract renewal letter, which I likened to waiting for one’s destiny to change and being unable to control fate.

I have a number of friends who are in the position of being asked to vacate their premises after having received notice that their landlords will be selling their apartment as soon as their lease is up.

There is a misconception among tenants that this act is illegal, but it isn’t. RERA, the Dubai Land Department agency that regulates rental matters, states that these notices are indeed lawful and fall under Article 25 of Law 26 of 2007, which governs the relationship between landlords and tenants in Dubai. The act allows a landlord to evict a tenant after 12 months, which gives them the chance to lease out their property again at the current market rate. These actions that are now an everyday occurrence across the emirate are driving tenants to spend more of their money on expensive apartments, or to take the plunge and buy a home with a mortgage. This latter course is leading to increase in the number of property owners in the city – something that is pushing prices even higher.

I believe that employers need to consider reviewing the housing allowance they give to their employees in order to help nullify this increase in the cost of living from rapidly rising rental prices. Dubai’s economic outlook is improving and companies are now in the position to be able to afford to offset this cost for their workers. Dubai is one of the world’s leading cities and its positive outlook can’t help but rub off on its residents. Seeing all its wondrous achievements makes us seek our own improvement and motivation for a better life.

The use of pilotless, remote-controlled aircraft in the urbanDrone setting is big news these days, with more and more applications being found for these ingenious airborne devices. Their use has proliferated as technology has improved, with today’s drones able to fly higher, travel further, stay in the air longer and carry heavier loads. In short, they are the perfect solution for many of the operational requirements of urban agencies. Just two weeks ago, Gulf News reported that Dubai Customs had deployed unmanned quad-copters for surveillance of suspicious activity and to support the inspection of trade vessels in Dubai Creek. The authority is reviewing their performance, with a view to extending their use to Jebel Ali Port.

As Dubai gears up its efforts to become a Smart City, the unmanned drone is perhaps the vehicle that best exemplifies this technological transformation. Here are five important functions that drones can fulfill in Dubai as it moves into an exciting future:

1. They can save lives. In the event of a serious traffic accident or a major incident, drones can save lives. As an aerial platform they can be positioned to survey damage, locate injured victims and assess for any more threats. As they are unmanned, they can get close in to the affected area, with no concerns about risks to on-board personnel.

2. They can support law enforcement. Drones are the ideal vehicles to track suspects, monitor large crowds and reinforce border controls. As Dubai Customs has realised, they are also extremely useful for surveillance and for assisting with cargo inspection.

3. They can help maintain infrastructure. Unmanned aerial vehicles are perfect for the close-up inspection of high rise buildings, bridges and metro railway lines – a function that is already being put into place in Dubai. Spider Access, a buildings management provider and client of C&B, has recognised their value in this respect and ordered a number of drones to support its maintenance operations across the city.

4. They can deliver documents. Today’s drones contain smaller batteries, use lighter weight materials and have more powerful motors, giving them a much greater lifting ability and range. They are able to carry documents and even parcels around the city in minutes, making them much more versatile as well as safer than the traditional, ubiquitous document carrier, the motorcycle.

5. They can give media organisations better access. Probably the most pertinent use of the drone for people in our industry, unmanned aerial vehicles can access hard-to-reach places and can do so efficiently and economically. Aerial photography enables increased coverage for a news broadcast and adds an exciting new angle for a public relations event.

So there you have it. Drones are set to be the answer to many of Dubai’s needs in the future. Keep your eyes to the skies – there is likely to be a drone hovering above your office soon!

These days the PR industry is abuzz with the concept ofMeasuring success ‘communication measurement.’ A day seldom goes by without an e-mail arriving to advertise the latest measurement guidebook, sell a measurement seminar or conference, or deliver an invitation to a measurement webinar. While communication measurement has traditionally relied on audience studies and media evaluation, social media has opened up whole new world, giving new meaning to public relations measurement and enabling us to explicitly chart how we can influence perceptions and activities.

However, the best measurement techniques and tools in the world are pointless without a communication strategy. Communication strategies are road maps for activity. They are unifying principles that tie the team into common outcomes and highlight the path that needs to be taken by everyone in the organisation in order to achieve success.

Without a doubt, the biggest hurdle for any public relations practitioner is setting objectives for their communication strategies. More often than not, these objectives are too vague, are business-oriented rather than communication-focused, or are completely disconnected from how success should be measured.

When building a communication strategy, the measurement component must evaluate what is set in the objectives. Increasing your number of followers on social media might seem like a nice objective to work towards, but public relations is all about influencing your stakeholders to think differently.

To illustrate the point, ’increasing sales’ is not a PR objective; ‘raising awareness’ or ‘creating product excitement’ on the other hand, are examples of what PR objectives should focus on in order to help increase sales.

Remember that in order to be able to measure the success of your communication strategies, your communication objectives should be S.M.A.R.T:

• Specific
• Measureable
• Achievable
• Realistic
• Time-bound

With more and more pressure being placed on PR practitioners to demonstrate success, connecting objectives with measurement criteria has never been more important. With sound S.M.A.R.T. objectives in place, demonstrating success should be far easier.

In October last year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Wi-Fibin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, tweeted about his plans to turn Dubai into a smart city. His Highness’ vision was to have free high-speed Wi-Fi available in all of Dubai’s public spaces within three years, allowing anyone in the city – whether citizen, resident, or visitor – access to online information, quickly, at anytime and anywhere.

The roll-out begins…

November 2013 saw the installation of free wireless along the 3.5km Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard in Downtown Dubai. In March this year, more smart city initiatives were announced, including free Wi-Fi on public transport, electric car charging stations and even a mobile device ap that helps drivers find available parking spaces.

The rise of the Always-on Consumer

The roll-out of a free city wide Wi-Fi network in Dubai underscores the significance of the Internet in the everyday lives of the ‘Always-on Consumer,’ a termed coined by a global consulting firm Vivaldi Partners to describe individuals who are connected to the Internet 24/7. A report from the organisation revealed that in a single day, these individuals use three connected devices, get on-line multiple times and do so from at least three different locations. Their study revealed that 48% of consumers today are Always-on Consumers.

The smart city and the Always-on Consumer

Throughout the day, the Always-on Consumer is researching, evaluating brands and companies, shopping, reading, consuming entertainment, or using social networks. They do this while watching TV, listening to music, eating out, or even while at work. The demise of the personal and laptop computer and the growth of tablet devices and smartphones means that individuals now demand high-speed internet wherever they are. The smart city aims to meet this demand.

Public Relations and the Always-on Consumer

For the world of public relations, free Wi-Fi across Dubai that facilitates 24/7 connectivity is a game-changer. It means re-thinking our approach to reaching stakeholders in the city, as we are rapidly shifting from having high-speed Internet most of the time to having it all of the time. A city that supports the Always-on Consumer requires public relations professionals to understand this emergent, connected individual inside-out, knowing what is important to them and how and when to reach them. Ultimately, it means blending traditional public relations with those of 24/7 connectivity.

An exciting opportunity

The smart city roll-out in Dubai is a boon for all residents, as it offers them the chance to be on-line wherever they are. But for public relations professionals, it opens up an additional exciting opportunity to shift strategies and develop new approaches to reach and influence our consumer stakeholders. They are, after all, our industry’s lifeblood.

Healthcare is one of the UAE’s most important Healthcarebusiness sectors and is one that is supported strongly by the UAE government. Recently, the country’s authorities have started to work closely with private healthcare providers to improve the quality of their services and to ensure that they follow the laid down rules and regulations that relate to the provision of health-related services in the country.

The demand for healthcare in the UAE is increasing, with one recent report in Gulf News saying that the number of hospital beds would need to increase by 37 per cent, from 2,550 beds in 2012 to 3,500 beds by 2018. This is to keep up with the estimated increase in the UAE population, which is expected to touch 12.2 million in five years, as well as to keep pace with the high incidence of lifestyle-related diseases experienced here.

With private sector healthcare organisations keen on capitalising on the opportunities afforded by this demand, many well-known international hospitals have commenced operations in the UAE. But, as a private healthcare provider, what are the stages that you need to follow in order for you to market your service successfully? Here are six steps:

1. Assessment: Consult business plans, patient satisfaction surveys, volume reports, community surveys and any other information you can gather on the current state of the health market. This will help you know where the demand is for the specific healthcare solutions you are offering.

2. Competitor Study: Know your competitor. Not every clinic or healthcare provider will be offering the same services as you intend. Get to know who is exactly matching what you are providing. Study them and find out what solutions they are offering. Once you understand their services, you will be in a position to see how you can offer better solutions.

3. Planning and Strategy: Where do you want your organisation to be in three to five years? How can marketing help realise this vision? Make a list of all the tools at your disposal and determine what options will work best for your product, marketplace and expected budget. Consider direct marketing, advertising campaign, public relations, events, building a user-friendly website and training programmes.

4. Budget: Build your budget to support your campaign, Focus on the core demographic for your services that you have identified through your initial assessment. This will help your plans have the greatest impact.

5. Be creative: Look for the latest innovations in the healthcare market to offer something new. Keep referring to your vision and strategy to ensure that the creative concepts support your ultimate objectives.

6. Measure and evaluate: Whenever possible, include a ‘call to action’ that can be quantified. You should consider consumer preference and top-of-mind awareness, which can translate into future volumes.

Some people might argue that fields such as medicine, engineering PR & education and the law require technical education and training, while disciplines such as PR and marketing are mere fluff fields that don’t need much formal tuition, let alone higher education. However, in recent years, PR has become a subject that has attracted greater academic interest, with universities, colleges and training centres offering specific degrees and certificates in PR as a topic in its own right.

PR is a good example of a field where it is not necessary to have formally studied the subject prior to working within it, as many of the skill sets required are mostly transferable or shared with other fields, such as communication, client-servicing, presentation and languages. However, as a PR practitioner, it is always useful to go back to school and receive some form of further education that can enhance your professional abilities and make you more effective in your work. Such training might be an undergraduate degree, a diploma, a certificate, or an industry course that provides relevant hands-on training.

Formal Education vs. Work Experience

PR professionals currently working in the industry should be aware of the importance of constantly updating their knowledge of happenings within the industry. Work experience alone won’t cut it in such a competitive and fast-paced environment. It takes strategic and analytical thinking, effective leadership and enhanced communication skills, as well as accuracy and attention to detail to make it in PR.
Networking with fellow PR professionals is one such highly effective educational tool that is an insightful way to share experiences, learnings and ideas.

New Talent

It is equally important for the industry to educate young, new talent. PR agencies should encourage students and fresh graduates to consider joining the sector by ensuring a presence at careers fairs and college open days. Here, seasoned PR professionals could introduce the concept of Public Relations to eager young minds, explain the dynamics of the industry, highlight its key elements and show how it differs from marketing or advertising. Most importantly, they could showcase the benefits and rewards of a career in PR.
The new generation is highly connected to social media and technology. With PR slowly but surely moving towards being an on-line and digital domain, it is becoming increasingly important to attract youth to the industry and to integrate them in its workings early on.

Public relations is often regarded as the art of storytelling, generating and narrating positive accounts to be communicated to the target audience through various media channels. In the current age, marching hand-in-hand with PR is digital media, a 21st century tool that capitalises on as well as influences content tactics and strategies, completing the communication strands of the brand.

So what is the best way for PR and digital media to work together to increase the value they deliver to organisations?

1. Speak the audience’s language:

The digital team spends a considerable amount of time trading heavily with information, engaging with the target market and monitoring their actions and interests. PR Account Managers should be open to receiving pitch ideas from content marketers, as they may provide fruitful recommendations to what is useful to the audience.
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The PR services landscape is constantly evolving and as the years pass, the changes we witness happening at an ever increasing rate. The question is, are PR agencies and industry professionals doing enough to keep up in this dynamic landscape?

PR professionals are ultimately communicators, whether they’re writing or speaking. They have to think on their feet and retain a deep knowledge of the media landscape they are operating in. But are they familiar with the latest SEO strategies or InDesign? What about video-editing? Do they know the latest engagement and optimisation strategies for social media channels?

Clients want to know what a PR cam­paign is going to do for their business. It’s no longer enough to show them newspaper clippings and mentions from different outlets. With more analytics platforms available, clients can track the impact of PR efforts. Analytics proves whether a PR programme is working, helping not only to perfect existing strategies, but also to predict trends that will impact on future ones.
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Dubai consistently appears at the top of global high quality rankings for cities… happiest population, best quality of life, fastest growing… the list is seemingly endless, with each month revealing another high score on some international index or another.

Last week Dubai was ranked ‘3rd Most Dynamic City’ in the world in the City Momentum Index (CMI). CMI measures cities on the basis of their GDP growth, speed of adaptation, speed of innovation, creation of new businesses, rates of construction, real estate price movement and attraction for cross-border capital. The study reflects how well a city meets its socio-economic goals and its commercial real estate momentum, also assessing how capable it is of sustaining such momentum over the longer term. Dubai topped the CMI poll because of its ability to bring about quick-silver changes in socio-economic and commercial real estate momentum.

But does Dubai really deserve it?

Yes it does. It is truly capable of achieving all of the above.
In December 2013, Dubai Land Department (DLD) announced that the total amount of real estate transactions recorded in the emirate for the year exceeded AED 236 billion. The total number of transactions jumped 53% from 2012 figures to reach a total of 63,652, with a further expected 40% increase in 2014. The organisation reported that foreign nationals from 162 countries conducted property transactions in Dubai throughout the year.

Investors are flocking from all over the world to Dubai. They all believe in this great city and in particular, the way it recovered after the crash of 2008. The real estate market is the main indicator of Dubai’s current boom, the figures for 2013 revealing a high level of optimism prevailing in the market.

Optimism about Dubai comes from trust in its government, its regulations and its procedures. Talking the talk is not enough. Seeing is the main proof and in that respect, Dubai is walking the walk. You don’t just hear the talk, you see the action.

Dubai is now not only the focus of attention for international property investors, but also for regular homemakers who simply want to work, to raise their children and to generally enjoy a good life. Dubai is about more than just investment, it is about the quality of life and the security it provides. Living in a super dynamic city, where you feel safe, rewarded and relaxed… what more do you need?
Greater numbers of people are coming to Dubai to live, with the Expo 2020 win a great incentive. For some, the new outlook represents a frightening situation, with an increase in real estate prices and a new property bubble at the top of their concerns. But with faith and confidence in the Dubai government, one can be assured that such a situation will not reoccur. Things are different this time. Thanks to the Dubai government, they are more organised, better controlled and better planned.

A good headline is not just icing on the cake when it in comes to a press release, it is an essential skill that can make all the difference between having the piece read or ignored. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will carry on to read the rest. This means that your opening words at the top of a page are integral to the effectiveness of the article and will determine whether readers continue. Here are six handy tips to help with writing that all-important opening piece of copy:

1. Keep headlines short and punchy. Your aim is to grab readers’ attention immediately and to arouse their curiosity, getting them to continue reading. Where possible, use words that provoke inquiry, such as ‘secret,’ ‘revealed’ and ‘breakthrough.’ These and similar words will keep their attention.

2. If you have a number of points you want to highlight in your release, you can add these into a sub-headline. A sub-headline should explain more but still arouse curiosity, so telling too much should be avoided.

3. Keep the headline type large and bold, with the sub-headline smaller and regular. You should view the headline and sub-headline as steps; the first being the arresting opening headline that leads onto the sub-headline, the second step taking you from the more informative but still curiosity-arousing headline onto the main text.

4. Brevity in a headline means avoiding definite and indefinite articles (‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’) and conjunctions (‘and’, ‘but’, ‘because’ and ‘so’) where possible. Minimise their use unless they are absolutely needed for clarity.

5. Use words in the headline and sub-headline that have a direct association with the subject matter. For example, if you are writing on behalf of a boat manufacturer who has just brought out a new craft, you could use the opening:

‘Local Boat Builder Creates Splash with New Cabin Cruiser’
Al Rabi Co. set to make waves with Nimrod 35

Or how about this for a new football school opening?:

‘FC Al Arba Kicks-off New Soccer School in Dubai
Club officials play ball with local authorities over kids’ academy

You can see how these examples also obey the previous rules of being brief, punchy and minimising use of superfluous words.

6. As a final tip, you should consider how the headline sounds when read aloud. It should have a certain rhythm, perhaps using alliteration for affect. This is called the ‘doo-dah’ rule. It is only necessary to use this technique in the headline – the sub-headline can employ a more conventional prose. You can see the affect at work in this following headline:

Mirdif Mums hold Morning Makeover
Popular expat ladies group host cosmetic initiative for charity

Happy headline writing!

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