Events management firm Sian Events recently opened a new office in Abu Dhabi in a bid to better service its growing client base in the UAE capital. S&S recently caught up with Sian's events director, Claire McDonald, to discuss the company's plans for the future.
S&S: You recently opened a new office in Abu Dhabi. What prompted the decision?
CM: After 14 years of trading in the UAE, the opening of our Abu Dhabi office represents a real milestone for [our business]. It demonstrates our growth from entertainment supplier to a full service boutique event management company.
S&S: Which clients are you working with in Abu Dhabi?
CM: We work with a range of high-profile clients, including Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Tourism Development and Investment Company, Al Fahim Group, Flash, Fast Track, FIFA CWC and Abu Dhabi Municipality.
S&S: Can you discuss any projects you are working on or have coming up?
CM: We can't mention our core corporate business due to client confidentiality agreements, however we have brought back our SIAN signature event, Picnic on the Park, which will take place on 19 November in the amphitheatre at Dubai Media City. The event returns after a hiatus of 12 months and will once again feature as a 40-piece orchestra. This year's Picnic show, entitled Bond to Bollywood, is a journey through 50 years of music from the movies. A full cast of artists, dancers and special guests will be in attendance. We're encouraging guests to bring their picnic blankets and hampers and enjoy the best of London's West End.
We also have another very exciting project scheduled for December, which we'll be releasing information about in the post-Ramadan period. We are looking forward to continuing our community engagement projects in 2011 as we enjoyed working with Flash on the Brazilian carnival, as well as Yasalam and also with FIFA in 2010.
S&S: How challenging has the recession been for your business?
CM: Thankfully, as an established company in the UAE with more than 32 years experience in the industry, it has been tough but we have not felt the full brunt of the recession, compared to some other companies operating here.
It was fairly obvious that the rapid rate of development in the region could not be maintained. It had to stabilise. This trend always brings with it a period of change. However, now that the worst is over the UAE will grow at a more sustainable rate, which will create a more authentic working environment for businesses to operate in. This will in turn allow companies to deliver a superior product to their clients.
We are confident that those who have come through this period will benefit from the changes this period has ultimately brought to the UAE.
As a company, we are committed to Dubai and the UAE and feel very confident looking into the future. I am sure there are many other companies based in the UAE who are thankful for having been based here during the recession as opposed to elsewhere.
S&S: Have you noticed a discernable drop in business in Dubai?
CM: There was a temporary slowdown in business during the recession but nothing substantial. A number of planned projects over the last two years have been cancelled or shelved which has had an effect on our business.
We have also seen a tightening in regards to budgets for many of the projects we have been involved in during this period. Clients have increasingly relied on us to deliver cost-effective solutions through creativity without sacrificing the quality of the content or downgrading the product.
S&S: Are you looking to expand your business further across the region or elsewhere internationally?
CM: We already work regionally and internationally and have no plans currently to open additional SIAN offices.
S&S: What challenges do you think the UAE live events industry faces overall?
CM: Reality has hit us through this period and the challenges our industry faces now include coming up with cost-effective innovative solutions for our customers and unique platforms for their brands.
Provided companies in our industry can demonstrate value they will continue to pick up work. As with all sectors at the moment it really is a matter of survival of the fittest.
We must identify with the marketplace; we have to partner with our clients to develop relationships that allow innovation and creativity to survive in what is a very competitive environment.For all the latest UAE news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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