A lot of people know me as the guy from Dejan SEO. They also know me as a great freelance SEO consultant. And they also know that I’m a Brisbane guy through and through and that it would take a lot to get me out of our sleepy little town.
But if you’ve been following my tweets, posts on Google+ and LinkedIn profile, you’ll know that I am now based in Dubai, UAE and I work for an SEO agency here.
That company is Sekari.
Sekari has a unique, content led approach to search and social media which takes online marketing to a different level in this region but also the internet as a whole, especially in the wake of numerous black and white animals shaking things up!
Sekari works with some huge brands that have equally huge presences in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region – like Starbucks, LG and Ibis Hotels. At present, Sekari spearheads the SEO efforts of one of the most impressive hotels in the world: The Atlantis on the Palm Jumeirah. For what it’s worth, I’ve been there and it’s nothing short of breathtaking. Check out a video they put together: The Spectacular Atlantis.
I mention this because it puts some perspective into the kind of work I’m doing now. It’s a whole new world because you have to consider the infancy of the Internet in the region as well as the multilingual nature of it all.
Arabic is naturally the main language over here but English is also widely spoken, though with varying degrees of articulation! Other popular languages include Tagalog (Filipino) and Hindi/Urdu. there are loads of Russian tourists and expats here so a lot of hotels target their marketing towards the Russian market. As Dubai has a lot of luxury hotels, it attracts luxury customers from around the world so it pays to have multilingual marketing campigns that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
As someone who can read and write Arabic, I am slowly coming to grips with the delicate nature of trying to replicate an English campaign in Arabic, as there are often no equivalents in Arabic. For example, if you were to say you were going to a water park, you’d know this was not a park with a garden and swings. In Arabic, there’s just a word for park (with the swings) but there’s nothing really for water park. You can be quite literal and use the word for park and the word for water but it’s not quite the same. In many cases, English words are transliterated into Arabic. If it sounds complicated, it’s because it is – but it’s fun at the same time because you grow to understand and appreciate other languages.
Being able to work with some massive brands and on huge multilingual SEO campaigns spanning a variety of countries in the region was something I couldn’t pass up so that’s why I accepted the offer to join Sekari. So far it’s been very insightful with plenty of learning along the way.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year brings for me in Dubai as the Holy Month of Ramadan is coming up and it’s also in the middle of summer where it gets blindingly hot. Apparently things slow down here around that time and even marketing campaigns take a swift change due to cultural sensitivities. Should be fascinating!