Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Matt on the Road Part One - London to Dubai

Both our Middle Eastern and Russian client bases have been keeping us busy over the last few months and what started out as a quick trip over to see a new client in Moscow, literally snowballed into a business tripathon that spanned from Saturday to Saturday. The big question was, whilst already sporting a cold, whether I could dash between Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Moscow and Kiev and be home in time for tea the following Saturday.

After a load of overnight flights, five economy class airlines, two visa changes, a couple of dodgy taxi negotiations and a 45 degree Celsius temperature switch from a balmy +25 to a quite literally barmy -20 at Domededova Airport; I saw some real contrasts in economies, culture and of course architecture.

Saturday Night 12th February (London – Dubai)

After boarding the most packed flight ever bound for Dubai, I went through my itinerary for the week: 6 meetings in 2 days in UAE, 4 meetings in 2 days in Moscow and a new project briefing and site visit in Kiev, which will be my first trip. I was really looking forward to finding out if the rumours were true – a city renowned for its natural beauties, I mean beauty…

Anyway, ordered my tomato juice – has anyone else noticed this is the drink of choice on nearly all airlines all over the world and yet no-one ever orders it in a bar or a restaurant, or buys it when they are at home? Some genius marketer at a tomato juice plant must have thought of this a long time ago – it’s similar to the fact that practically the only place you can buy a torch or a disposable barbecue is a petrol station in the UK??

We’re expanding our creative services in the Middle East so we are looking out for a good Project Manager to assist our Creative Director Jon in Abu Dhabi. We had a few pitches for web, interactive and also a really cool motion graphics one, so was looking forward to this part of the trip.

Sunday 13th February (Dubai)

A working day in the Middle East region saw me and the team catch up with our friends at Sian Events – reports that the market is picking up are certainly true if their current work levels are anything to go by, but architecture and real estate is still fragmented in Dubai at best.

Monday 14th February (Abu Dhabi)

We took the mad crazy road to Abu Dhabi where 4 lanes become 6 and the hard shoulder is reserved for VIPs to overtake / undertake - you get the picture. Zaha Hadid’s new bridge is now open which has cut the commuter traffic down by 20-30 mins into central AD from Dubai, which is still the city of choice for the younger ex-pats to live; they just grin and bear the drive – it will still be a while before any real volume of residential construction will change this.

Excellent back to back client meetings reveal we should be on to produce a motion graphics sting for a really high profile company (top secret at present) and also we have got ourselves onto the procurement lists for some big government organisations which, in time, assuming the procurement departments don’t start requesting you leave a member of staff as collateral for the duration of the project (it is getting rather onerous out here as they roll out bureaucracy with bells on) we should be up and running in the coming months with some interesting content creation projects.

Caught up with some ex-pat friends on Monday night who kindly helped our travel budget by putting me up ahead of the biggest temperature and culture switch you could imagine within 4 hrs flying time.

To be continued...

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