#1 How long have you been in your position and what led you down this path? 
I’ve been working in digital media research and marketing for over 15 years and joined MBC 1.5 years ago.

#2 What inspires you creatively?
Professionally: Chasing what consumers are adopting, and how the worlds media habits are changing with the evolution of digital and trying to understand why. Personally I am inspired by Vinyasa yoga and anything to do with connecting to water: ocean, beach, swimming… philosophical debate amongst like-minded people also inspires me to have perspective.

#3 What’s the best professional advice you have been given?
If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Once I got on that path, I never looked back and it is the foundation for all my career decisions. Working in digital is a lifestyle choice, it is not a job.

#4 What’s your favorite city and food and why?
Only one? Well I would have to pick Dubai! I chose to live here and make it my home. Being part of the bigger vision for the city, its people and its transformation – #mydubai inspires me. Food? Home cooked and made with love, do you need more than that?

#5 What is your top tip for creating a successful social media strategy/marketing strategy?
Irrespective of the medium that is used, the innate need state of consumers at the fundamental level is constant: the need to connect, the need to express, to be creative, inspired… core intrinsic values that power connection. If your strategy taps into these and can maintain the connection and momentum, then you will be able to move beyond surface level engagements with consumers and into deeper connections. The advertising and media industry belief is that it’s about being remembered ‘recall’ a brand… when actually what you really need to be focusing on is being unforgettable it today’s short attention span world.

#6 What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
Entertaining friends and family, socializing, travel and adventuring in other parts of the world, yoga, expanding my mind across all kinds of subjects of study, breakfast with friends on the weekend, walking walking walking and anything involving water or beside the water – beach, swim, boating… and a SPA day or two!

#7 What trends should we look out for when it comes to social/digital media in MENA?
Commerce online has been less developed in the MENA region than other parts of the world partly due to the weak infrastructure in the postal / delivery system and also shopping culture. I expect this to continue to develop as governments in the region make solid commitments to funding and infrastructure to grow this and encourage MENA consumers to shop online domestically rather than internationally. With the limitations on choice and ease of shopping online, social commerce with local businesses (and individual people who create things and became accidental businesses) is growing and more regulatory frameworks as well as innovation will come – think shopping via Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, Snapchat, and messaging platforms. Equally, the evolution of audio / visual media has improved the ability to shop: LIVE Video, 360 audio/visuals, better quality photography with on the spot editing is lowering the entry bar for sole traders and youth in MENA should be encouraged to create / promote and sell their creations.

#8 How’s social/digital media changing the way people in MENA consume traditional media?
What is traditional media? Media is the type of experience – news, sport, entertainment, music. The need for consuming these types of media is stronger than ever before. What has changed is the MEDIUM – the device or screen that is used to access the media: TV set, radio transmitter, printed newspaper – all media these MEDIUMS produced have blended and merged online. If anything there is a revolution with Media in the MENA world as the digital world opens up choice, discovery, perspective and the ability to connect even deeper with your passion points: sports, cooking, decorating, singing, cars, gadgets, movies… it’s endless. The biggest single development I see unfolding is the power of now and hoe much time consumers are spending with LIVE recorded media – where from broadcast to personal videos or live global events like football and music festivals. LIVE or near live recording are growing and thriving, however these experiences can also be transient and superfluous and it’s difficult for a brand to build a relationship with it. In professional media, there is still an undeniable value to carefully curated storytelling and narration, whether it be a drama series, movie, or investigative journalism. Will consumers fatigue with so much digital LIVE coverage competing with the LIVING WORLD in front of them? Time will tell if this is a fad or trend. If there is investment in encouraging people to become business people, even small sole traders to fuel creativity, commerce and community, I thinking spending less time with LIVE in digital and more time with the LIVING can only be a good thing.

#9 What is the coolest social media/marketing campaign you have worked on and why?
It is always great to be a part of something bigger than yourself and feel the combined weight of success. I worked on the life of Pi campaign when the movie launched and it was about a boy (unknown talent) with a tiger (CGI generated) on a boat, with a title that consumers thought was about the math equation Pi (who likes math let alone an infinite number that starts with 3.14) the campaign was called life’s journey and people all over the world in the global campaign were asked to submit their own ‘life’s journey’ about something they had to overcome and how they did it. My team and I worked on researching the social / word of mouth about the campaign and I think the results speak for themselves in the video/case study.

#10 What are your favorite publications or blogs to read?
One might say I am overly committed to my profession; technology and future chasing is a lifestyle choice. I’m not loyal to publication brands, I am loyal to my network of peers and what we share amongst us to stay on top of all the changes. I have been privileged to work with people from all over the world and in particular those focused on the movers and shakers in the Silicon Valley so I keep my finger on the pulse of new developments, M&As and what is driving business strategies and performance. My favourite sources are sent to me directly through email so I can focus on what matters.

To know more about Laura, follow her @laurachaibi