John Antoniades, \nCEO, Starcom MediaVest Group \nJohn Antoniades heads the Middle East and North Africa operations of global media agency network Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG). Antoniades, who has over seventeen years of experience, has helped grow SMG MENA’s business after previously serving as director of Multi-National Client Operations EMEA, where he led the consolidation of Honda in EMEA and was asked to head its regional account operations. \nIn addition, he earned a place on the London board and SMG’s Global Management Group and is a key member of the network’s Global Product Committee. With operations in eight markets employing more than 300 multi-discipline specialists in the Arab world, Starcom MediaVest Group MENA is one of the largest brand communications groups and the biggest media agency in the region.
Sam Barnett, CEO, MBC Group \nAfter nine years as chief operating officer, Sam Barnett, once an NGO worker, became CEO of MBC Group in 2011 which operates under chairman Sheikh Waleed Al Ibrahim. Barnett, an INSEAD graduate, joined the group in 2002 after his former employer Arthur Andersen imploded during the Enron scandal. He supported the chairman in restructuring the commercial flow of the company into the largest media and entertainment group in the Middle East and North Africa region, with eleven channels including the Al Arabiya news outlet and two radio stations and three online platforms under its umbrella. MBC was the first private free-to-air satellite broadcasting company in the Arab world after its launch in London in 1991. Barnett has overseen the launch of several new channels and the enforcement of commercial and financial disciplines on all operations.
John Brash, CEO, Brash Brands \nJohn Brash is the CEO of Brash Brands, a consultancy that helps clients build strong brands that facilitate greater commercial value. Brash has more than two decades of experience in the branding industry, advising clients from major global corporations to ambitious start-ups. In 2003, he moved to Dubai to head up Landor Associates’ creative department for the MENA region. He founded Brash in May 2007 and has a who's who of clients in the Middle East, which comprises or has included Emaar Properties, Emirates, Batelco, Armani Residences, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Savola Investments, Masdar, Mubadala, Blackstone, Aabar, Msheireb Downtown and Abu Dhabi Investment House among many others. The company also operates in Bangalore, London, Salzburg, Shanghai and Singapore.
Francis Matthew, editor at large, Gulf News \nA University of Exeter graduate, Matthew is a regular commentator on the region on TV and radio, and has contributed to a variety of international conferences on Gulf affairs. Fluent in Arabic, he has played a large part in the development of Gulf News, the Gulf’s biggest-selling English-language daily. Matthew has worked in the Middle East as a journalist for 30 years, with occasional spells in Europe. He previously worked as managing editor of Al Nisr Media and spent time in London, Dublin and Brussels, with Lafferty Group, EMAP, and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Matthew is the co-editor of two pictorial histories of the UAE, Building a Nation and The Rise of a Nation.
Rupert Young, Partner, Brunswick \nRupert Young has been a communications consultant for eighteen years. He started his consultancy career in the UK, including ten years with Brunswick in London, before launching the firm’s practice in the Gulf in 2007. Based in Dubai, he manages a team of consultants with strong international and regional experience. \nYoung advises senior management of government-owned entities, private and listed companies and multi-nationals looking to increase their profile in the region. He has experience of advising clients across a range of sectors with a specialism towards financial services and real estate. Young specialises in corporate and financial communications advising clients on corporate positioning, media relations, listed company reporting requirements, investor relations, financial transactions and the management of major issues. He has extensive experience advising companies on the communications aspects of IPOs and listings.
Chris Bell, Owner, Face to Face \nChris Bell started his career at McCann Erickson in London when they were the biggest agency in the world. He worked at Coca-Cola and Gillette and then moved on to work for JWT London, who then transferred him to Dubai where he headed up the Unilever (Beverage) business across the region as group account director. He joined Face to Face in 2004 and with his partner bought out the previous owners. He has grown it into the biggest privately owned and independent agency in the region.
Nicholas Lunt, managing director, M: Middle East \nNicholas Lunt is managing director of M:’s Middle East operations and leads the firm’s relationships with listed entities and financial sector clients in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Iraq and the UAE. Lunt started his career as an army officer in the Queen's Royal Lancers, then the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces in the 1980s, before moving on to become managing director of Ogilvy in Belgium, then becoming a civilian spokesman for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Kabul. He also assumed various consultancy roles with Adam Smith International in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Nairobi and Abuja. His work experience includes working as a communications adviser to the Prime Minister's office in Iraq, and as an adviser to various government ministers in Afghanistan and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. In 2008 and early 2009 he was based in Mumbai where he was director of client services of a leading Indian PR company, where he was responsible for the launch of Tata’s Nano car as well as assisting other major clients.
Camilla and Lucy D’Abo, managing partners, Dabo & Co \nSisters Camilla and Lucy set up Dabo & Co, a public relations and event management firm in 2004. It services clients in banking and finance, real estate, hospitality and retail. Clients currently include more than 40 leading brands such as HSBC, Julius Baer, Cisco, Jumeirah Restaurants, Art Dubai, BMW and Hilton, among others. Dabo & Co operates in fifteen countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa region. The company does corporate communications, financial communications, brand market entry, crisis management, and media training. Lucy has a background in events management; she has managed events as diverse as IMF meetings to the Cartier Polo in Dubai. Camilla has a background in finance, and more than twelve years’ regional experience in PR.
Tom Urquhart, radio and television personality \nTom Urquhart is a television and radio presenter who formerly worked for a daily broadsheet newspaper in London. He is on air three times a week as presenter on Dubai Eye 103.8’s sport show, is a prominent part of the latest Emirates Airline campaign and is co-presenter of two Dubai One shows, Ask One and World of Sports. After studying English at university in the UK, Urquhart worked on several British newspapers, followed by a brief stint in public relations. He then worked as deputy editor of What’s On for Motivate Publishing and was editor at large for the launch of Hello Middle East. Urquhart has worked extensively on the small screen in the last decade. He was chosen as host for City 7s Good Morning Dubai show, the first live English language breakfast show in the UAE. He has also been featured in a Discovery Channel feature on 'Dubai, A Place in the Sun' from the UK, and 'Lonely Planet does Dubai'. Most recently, he garnered plaudits for his role as presenter on The Entrepreneur, a reality show based in Dubai.