Arab female journalists face up to industry challenges at Riyadh seminar

Some of the participants at the seminar in Riyadh on Wednesday. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Updated 28 November 2019

Arab female journalists face up to industry challenges at Riyadh seminar

  • New reporters should be trained for a full year before starting work to give them a better understanding of the job, Jordanian participant suggests
  • One issue raised was the reluctance of employers to hire journalists who have young children 

RIYADH: Ways of overcoming some of the challenges and prejudices faced by female Arab journalists topped the agenda at a Saudi conference on Wednesday.

Women writers from throughout the Middle East and North Africa region gathered at the headquarters of the Saudi Press Agency in Riyadh for the third session of the Arab Female Journalists seminar.

 Shoura Council member and honorary guest, Nora Al-Shaaban, joined delegates in hailing the increased presence of women in the media sector, but said: “Female journalists have ambitions and it’s their right to achieve them.”

Yemeni journalist Ahlam Abdul Raqeeb participated in a panel — moderated by secretary-general of the Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA), Dr. Fareed Ayar — which looked at the professional obstacles that Arab women journalists were sometimes confronted with and how to address them.

Conference delegates were told that Abdul Raqeeb was arrested in Yemen for six days because of her work and was constantly threatened. She escaped her home country with her children after contacting Saudi authorities a few years ago.

In Sudan, more women were being hired into leading roles, said Saeeda Hamat, a Sudanese journalist with the Sudan News Agency.

“Sudanese women hold executive positions in ministries as deputy ministerial advisers, and with the December revolution in Sudan, we now have female ministers. We are progressing. We do not have any obstacles in front of us. Do not cry over spilled milk and stop looking to the past but toward the future,” she told the gathering.

Samiya Al-Saayda from the Jordan News Agency (Petra) suggested that new reporters should be trained for a full year before starting work in order to give them a better understanding of the job. “You wouldn’t let a doctor perform surgery without training and the same goes with ethical journalism.”

Mothers in newsrooms was another issue raised in the same session, with employers often reluctant to hire them.


Global Amazon marketing agency Podean launches in Middle East

Updated 29 September 2020

Global Amazon marketing agency Podean launches in Middle East

  • Business aims to provide brands with the tools to boost revenues from online sales to 230 million people in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey

DUBAI: Global Amazon agency and marketplace consultancy Podean has officially launched in the Middle East, with its regional headquarters in Dubai.

The agency said it is the first independent global Amazon services provider to offer end-to-end marketplace marketing solutions to international and local brands in the region. As e-commerce grows rapidly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Amazon is the leading player and presents a formidable sales channel for brands that establish themselves early, it added.

Research conducted by Podean this month found that 45 percent of adults in the UAE regularly shop on Amazon. The most popular category is food and groceries, which 26 percent of respondents said they had shopped for in the past month, followed closely by electronics and home appliances, which 25 percent had purchased.

The research also found that the benefits consumers value most are best prices, speed of delivery and range of products — all of which are factors that play to Amazon’s strengths.

Podean said its arrival in the region will provide brands with the tools they need to drive incremental revenues among a combined population of 230 million people in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey.

In the UAE alone, e-commerce is expected to grow by 30 percent from 2020 to 2021, and consumer confidence in Saudi Arabia ranks as the second-highest in the world.

Podean boasts that it can offer brands strategic consulting and holistic Amazon retail and advertising solutions, supported by its global network of experts. Internationally, the agency said it counts more than 80 leading brands among its clients, who can leverage the company’s experience across all categories and facets of marketplace marketing, including retail, analytics, logistics/supply chain, creative, content, voice and media management.

The agency said it can also provide non-endemic brands — which don’t sell physical products in the marketplace — with the ability to drive optimal marketing results by leveraging display and video advertising through Amazon’s demand-side platform.

“We are excited to be launching in the Middle East, a sophisticated consumer market experiencing strong e-commerce growth,” said Podean founder Mark Power. “While the world continues to face uncertainty due to COVID-19, we know that Amazon’s model will meet these changing consumer needs.

“Our company is uniquely positioned to help brands grow their revenues in the Middle East, and to support their global ambitions. The addition of this office further reinforces Podean’s reputation as the leading global Amazon agency network.”

Paul Hart, described by Podean as an experienced business leader who has been building partnerships with brands in the region for 13 years, is the managing director of the business’s new MENA operation.

“I am delighted to be joining a dynamic company (that is) shaking things up in the Amazon services space and running at the speed of Amazon,” he said. “Through Podean’s global network we are able to provide the experience, expertise, specialist resources, tools and technologies to our MENA clients that no other agency in the region has access to. I cannot wait to drive incremental sales for the many great brands in the Middle East.”

Podean said it will also be launching in the region a number of proprietary tools, including JourneyTM, which it says is the first Amazon media-mix-modelling and channel-planning tool that optimizes investment across all Amazon advertising products.

It will also launch ProphetTM, which it describes as an analysis framework that optimizes brands’ Amazon business beyond just return on ad spend/advertising cost of sale, and addresses all critical elements to drive success, from strategy to supply chain to content and media.

Podean said that the combination of both platforms has helped clients increase revenues by upwards of 40 percent and profits by 60 percent.

Podean’s global headquarters is in New York City and, in addition to Dubai, it has offices in Los Angeles, Sydney, London and Singapore.