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Why UAE Companies Lag On Content Marketing And How To Catch Up Businesses need to look at how taking a content marketing approach benefits their long-term growth.

By Alex Ionides

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The UAE is an exciting place to do business. Which makes it all the more frustrating to know that so many companies fall short when it comes to using content marketing– the smartest and most progressive marketing approach out there.

So, why do so few companies in the UAE use content marketing? And how can you go against this negative trend and get greater returns for your marketing spend? Let's look at the problems and solutions.

Problem: Lack of resources and a high turnover

Since there isn't a solid content marketing offering in the UAE already, resources, such as agencies, writers, and designers, are thin on the ground. This means competition to acquire them is fierce and costs might be out of reach for many smaller companies. Yet perhaps the bigger issue is that with 88% of our workforce being expats, there is a higher than average turnover of workers. This lack of continuity can make it difficult for companies to adhere to a long-term marketing approach, such as content marketing, which relies on consistency in both strategy and delivery.


Get a clear, concise strategy in place from the beginning, with identifiable and measurable goals. This will make it easier to communicate your plan to all staff, including new starters. And in terms of the delivery, why not look at outsourcing the work? There are plenty of specialist agencies and freelancers who are experts in their fields of design, content writing and social media management. Hiring them to support your UAE-based operation might just enable you to find the talent and consistency you need to get things up and running successfully.

Related: Five Data-Driven Improvements To Your Content Marketing Strategy

Problem: Our approach to marketing is still maturing

As exciting as the UAE might be for business, we have to acknowledge that the sector here is still in its infancy compared to elsewhere. Which is why that despite the popularity of content marketing in the US and Western Europe, companies in the UAE might be wary of adopting this "new' approach. Companies in the US and Europe have seen how traditional advertising is no longer equipped to meet evolving consumer wants and needs. In fact, more than 30% of people are forecast to be using ad-blockers online by the end of 2018. This puts wasted advertising budgets into the billions of dollars. Consequently, the sector has had no choice but to change tactics. And led by content marketing champions such as HubSpot, and Wall Street Journal best-selling author Anne Handley, they've been able to devise more appropriate strategies for engaging potential customers.

Understandably, the UAE is more hesitant to jump on board because we don't necessarily have the local business history or experience to see why this should now be an essential part of marketing. We need more clarity about what content marketing is or isn't before we can commit to it.


There's a wealth of information out there that can help you develop a solid appreciation for content marketing. Start by following as many blogs by content marketing agencies as you can –as well as organizations like the Content Marketing Institute (CMI)– to build up a solid understanding for what content marketing is and why it's crucial. Reading books by industry experts like Content Rules by Ann Handley or Epic Content Marketing by CMI founder Joe Pulizzi will also help, at least until you have your own experience to draw on.

Problem: There are no local models to learn from

Our region is a melting pot of nationalities, cultures and the best talent from all around the world. The government has incentives in place to encourage company growth (such as the recent decree to wipe accumulated fines and offer a grace period for trade license renewals). And we often lead the world in new ways of thinking and doing business– such as Dubai being one of the first cities to allow you to purchase real estate with cryptocurrency. Yet the lack of content marketing success stories in the UAE means that companies here aren't seeing examples of the true value of this approach. They're not being shown how cost-effective content marketing can be to get new business up and running (compared to advertising spend), how it can be scaled up or down across different platforms (such as blogs or various social media outlets), or how it can build long-term customer loyalty. Which means they're missing out on a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the UAE's talent base, world-leading thinking, and unmatched business support.


It doesn't hurt to look at companies abroad for examples of success stories. You might only be a startup, but there's no harm in looking at how big players like American Express, Marriott or IBM have approached content marketing and see if you can adopt their strategies for yourself. You'll soon realize that the nature of the approach –being cost-effective and easily tailored to any size of company– means it's perfect for new businesses looking for long-term success. And given that here in the UAE we have an unrivalled drive and commitment to helping businesses grow, there's simply nowhere better to take advantage of content marketing than in the UAE right now.

UAE and content marketing – the start of a beautiful friendship

The UAE is one of the best places in the world to set up a business. But lack of understanding and adoption of content marketing means these advantages are not being fully realized. Smart businesses need to do their research, look at how this approach is benefitting business growth and success abroad, and then follow suit.

Related: Why Content Marketing Needs To Be At The Heart Of Your Customer Acquisition Strategy

Alex Ionides

Managing Director, Silx

Alex Ionides is Managing Director of Silx, a Dubai-based digital marketing agency. Previously, Alex was General Manager of the Dubai office of global PR company Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and Managing Director of Munich-based marketing agency Threeview. He grew up in Vancouver, Canada, receiving a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mass Communication from Simon Fraser University. In addition to his career in marketing, Alex worked for many years as a journalist in the Middle East. He has lived and worked in the US, Germany, Hong Kong, Egypt, and now Dubai.


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