Interview: Samia Bouazza
In what ways has the cultural landscape of Abu Dhabi evolved over the years, and how has it impacted the business environment?
SAMIA BOUAZZA: Culture and heritage, along with overall efforts to promote them, have a positive effect on businesses, individuals and society at large. They bring people closer and offer a great and meaningful addition to leisure and entertainment. Cultural programmes instil values in an entertaining way, and impact our lives for the better in many aspects.
As a local communications agency, we house a lot of creative talent, and it has become easier for us to attract designers and producers to move to Abu Dhabi because of the variety of cultural initiatives that continue to emerge. There are a number of heritage and cultural options that bring to the fore a higher quality of life. These include educational programmes for the younger generations; music and arts festivals; book fairs; and cultural landmarks such as Qasr Al Hosn, Qasr Al Watan and the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Al Ain. The Louvre Abu Dhabi was an important step towards strengthening the emirate’s position as a centre for culture, both on a regional and international level.
Taken together, cultural factors such as these are important to the entire community and represent an opportunity for us to deliver Abu Dhabi’s message of heritage, cultural diversity and acceptance.
What does the emirate offer in terms of events and entertainment for visitors and residents?
BOUAZZA: The meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry is growing at a rate of 7% to a value in the billions of dollars in 2020. From a communications angle, events present a great platform for brands to communicate and engage with visitors in active and fun ways. People can interact with their favourite consumer brands or with government entities in various environments, allowing for a focused experience of what is on offer. Abu Dhabi’s events include a myriad of leisure, entertainment and business offerings, which are a catalyst for cultural exposure and business activity.
Many events initiated by the Abu Dhabi government are in line with the country’s values, allowing expatriates to understand more about the emirate and the UAE. The visit of Pope Francis, the Special Olympics, and events held year-round on reading, science and Islamic art at the Louvre show our openness and tolerance.
Technology will dominate events in the future, and given Abu Dhabi’s high level of IT infrastructure, it is well positioned to be a leader in this respect. Technology has already played a central role on several occasions, such as in Cityscape, where augmented and virtual reality are used to create greater interactions, as well as observe visitors’ reactions and measure their emotions. We will continue to see this trend grow, as its widespread adoption will allow organisations to reach a wider audience and make their offerings more interesting and useful.
How would you describe the lifestyle in Abu Dhabi for corporate travellers and residents who have relocated for business purposes?
BOUAZZA: One of the advantages of living in Abu Dhabi is the chance to interact with people from around the world and the exposure to different cultures. This happens in both formal and casual ways because of the social diversity. From a business perspective, the government has made substantial efforts to incentivise companies to launch or relocate to the UAE. Abu Dhabi has built a sound and solid IT infrastructure, a key factor in facilitating the transition of many start-ups or small and medium-sized enterprises towards the digital economy. A strong and supportive ecosystem is in place, backed by robust logistics and financial infrastructure, and leading industry-specific international events. The Abu Dhabi government has made strides in attracting start-ups and boosting entrepreneurship across the emirate, for example with the establishment of Hub71, which provides access to capital and global markets.
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