Facebook to bring 800 more jobs to London as new office unveiled

A large logo is seen at Facebook’s headquarters in London, Britain, Dec. 4, 2017. (Reuters/Toby Melville)
Updated 05 December 2017

Facebook to bring 800 more jobs to London as new office unveiled

LONDON: Facebook has opened its new London office and said it will create 800 high-tech jobs in the UK over the next year, demonstrating its commitment to the country as it prepares to leave the EU.
The new office will also feature an incubator space called LDN-LAB aimed at supporting UK-based tech startups.
The selected companies will take part in three-month programs where they will work with Facebook experts in areas such as engineering or product development to kickstart their businesses.
“Today’s announcements show that Facebook is more committed than ever to the UK and in supporting the growth of the country’s innovative startups,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, vice-president of Facebook EMEA.
More than 2,300 people are expected to be working for Facebook in the UK by the end of 2018. Over half of those in the London hub will be focused on engineering, ensuring the office will be Facebook’s biggest hub outside of the US.
Facebook’s UK plans will be welcome news to those concerned about London losing its appeal as a technological and financial hub following Brexit.
“It is great to see a world-leading company like Facebook continuing to invest in London’s renowned tech ecosystem, despite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit,” said Julia David, CEO of techUK.
“Large businesses are key to supporting innovation and we are excited to see what becomes of the startups that can grow and scale as a result of this endeavour. The message is clear: London is open, and tech is the flag bearer.”
The office, which opened on Monday, is based at Rathbone Place in London’s West End and is built across 247,000 square-feet and has seven floors.
The opening of the London operations follows the opening of Facebook’s new Middle East HQ in Dubai on Oct. 27. The 20,000-square-foot regional hub is part of the company’s commitment to expanding further into the Middle East and North African markets. The Dubai office has more than 60 employees. Facebook first launched a local presence in the MENA region in 2012 and since then it has grown its regional user base by 264 percent and has around 164 million monthly active people using its site from the region.
“With its strong business ecosystems, regional connectivity, and access to the best global talent, Dubai and the UAE remain the right place for us to call home in the region.
“We are only 1 percent finished in our journey here, and we are excited about what lies ahead in this young, connected, and mobile-first region,” Jonathan Labin, Facebook’s managing director for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, said at the time of the launch.
Staff working in the Dubai office will be able to work from a treadmill desk, take selfies from an “Instagram anti-gravity room” or admire works by Emirati artist Eman Al-Hashemi.


Prominent communications executive hails Saudi Arabia’s ‘admirable’ Hajj and G20 amid COVID-19

Updated 30 November 2020

Prominent communications executive hails Saudi Arabia’s ‘admirable’ Hajj and G20 amid COVID-19

  • Founder of Unitas Communications says Kingdom has ‘set a precedent’ in its handling of both events

LONDON: According to one of the UK’s most prominent communications executives, Muddassar Ahmed, Saudi Arabia has “not only done an admirable job but has set a precedent for other nations to follow” with regard to its handling of Hajj amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The Kingdom’s decision to suspend the Hajj pilgrimage during the pandemic was a brave one, all the more so because it is a religious occasion that hundreds of thousands of people spend their lives preparing for,” Ahmed, the founder of Unitas Communications, told Arab News.

“To tell people making a once-in-a-lifetime journey that their plans must be put on hold cannot have been easy. But it was without a doubt the right thing to do. In our religion, the protection and preservation of life are of paramount value,” he added.

Ahmed, one of the UK’s top 1000 most influential people, also praised the Kingdom’s handling of the G20 summit last month after deciding to go fully virtual, calling it “absolutely the correct course of action.”

“In both instances, Saudi Arabia has set a precedent for other countries to follow. We can contrast its proactive, forward-thinking and compassionate approach, as well as its own COVID-19 statistics, with other countries’ track records,” he said.

Countering extremism as a British Muslim

Ahmed is not only known for his role as a communications expert, but also as a leading figure in the Muslim community in the UK, countering hate speech and the rise of extremism as an advisor to the British government on anti-Muslim hatred.

“As a born-and-bred British Muslim, this is not just important to me on a policy level but on a deeply personal level. I have dedicated my life to improving relationships between Muslim and other communities and I believe that, through Unitas and other projects I have dedicated myself to, we have made tremendous progress in improving the image and position of Muslims in Britain and the West,” Ahmed, who was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims worldwide three times, said.

Before founding Unitas, Ahmed was an activist campaigning against the Iraq war and founder/host of East London’s Radio Ramadan shows.

“I soon realized that adversarial campaigning only went so far. I was concerned by the growing divide between Muslims and wider society, between the Islamic world and the West, and I wanted — I needed — to help heal these divides, to bridge these allegedly irreconcilable narratives,” he explained.

Soon after, he teamed up with fellow East Londoner and childhood classmate Shiraz Ahmad to give birth to the world’s first public relations agency dedicated to bridging the gap between the Islamic and Western worlds: Unitas Communications.

One of the group’s first clients was the National Health Service, which needed to access hard-to-reach minority communities in East London.

It was not long before their work earned the attention of people invested in efforts to do the same. A few years after the start of the Iraq War and after the 7/7 2005 London terrorist attacks, community cohesion in the UK was at an all-time low.

The UN’s Alliance of Civilizations then reached out to Unitas to “see minority and Muslim communities have the training and develop the skills necessary to engage effectively and constructively in wider British society.”

Ahmed and Unitas’s work is not restricted to the UK alone, with the group and its founder earning praise and recognition from former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and by the City of New York.

Brexit and what is to come

While many businesses have been critical of Brexit and its potential consequences, Ahmed looks to the bright side of matters and instead calls it “an opportunity for Britain to reset its narrative on the world stage.”

“I have every confidence in the ability of the British nation to reinvent itself,” he added, explaining that “Unitas operations extend across continents in order to connect people, cultures and ideas and to make communicating effective and impactful.”

With regard to what the future holds for Unitas in such uncertain times, Ahmed remains optimistic.

“The future will see Unitas continuing to work with leading international brands and expanding its presence across Europe and the Middle East and deeper into Southeast Asia. But I should also say that a major priority for us has always been the US. We’ve had major American clients, like the National Football League and the US State Department,” he said.

“We will continue to choose clients who contribute to making the world a more understanding place, and we will engage those relationships to improve the world, to leave things better off than where they were when we started.

Because this work isn’t just a business to me or my team. It’s a moral calling.”