Dubai: Want to hang out all day checking your social media feeds? And where it comes part of your job profile? Then do scroll through the brand new Facebook regional headquarters in Dubai, at Knowledge Village. All 20,000 square feet of it.
“Facebook has been here (in the region) for five years … and our journey is only 1 per cent finished,” said Jonathan Labin, Managing Director — Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan. “Our new headquarters — twice as large as our previous one — is reflective of a growing team based out of Dubai, serving partners and users across the region.
“From a team of two, we have grown to 60 people bringing local insights and awareness to the products and experiences we want to deliver to our users here. We continue to hire, and in particular from the region, so we are able to bring products and services that are relevant for the Arab world.”
The expanding team is not exclusively working towards signing up more users on to the social media platform, as well as on Instagram. In that regard, FB already has built up quite a substantial regional base, at 164 million active monthly users across Mena, of which 156 million do through mobile. (It was earlier operating out of an office at one of the towers in Tecom.) The teams are split into multiple verticals, in effect targeting those sectors that frequently use FB to reach out to their audiences.
“We have business unit heads for tourism, finance, automotive, FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), e-commerce, online services, telecom and luxury,” Labin said. “In parallel, we have a recently established media partnerships team working closely with media companies as well as content creators.”
The Dubai office — set in an open layout — is not just an extended marketing arm of what is already one of the world’s largest advertising and media entities. There is quite a bit of region-focused external developer support programmes it is providing.
“One such example is ‘She Means Business’, which we launched in February to train and empower 10,000 women in the UAE and Egypt with the tools they need to build successful businesses,” Labin said.
“We are seeing strong and sustained growth across all our verticals. What is interesting is that this growth is reflective of the growth of key industries here — especially telco, e-commerce, online services … “We are also seeing increasing interest from start-ups who are not just looking to use Facebook to scale their business, but also reach audiences across the region and the world.”
Amid all the additions to the to-do list, Facebook’s not giving up on the fun. It’s previous office too was quite far removed from the typical corporate fit-outs familiar to anyone visiting the many office buildings in the Tecom area. (The only exceptions to the rule would be those operated by some of the region’s leading ad agency networks. Guess it’s all about being creative and all that.) At the new FB base, “We’ve got a mix of activities for our team,” said Labin. “A ping-pong or foosball game can infuse a busy day with a bit of fun, while colleagues can also connect in our Micro or Nano kitchens, or grab a book in our library.
“Of course, we know when to knuckle down — our office’s quiet corners and our roof terrace overlooking Palm Jumeirah are ideal to concentrate on tasks or conduct meetings.”
There are “treadmill desks” for those more health-conscious team members. And when it comes to social media enablers, there has to be space for selfies. FB has a customised Instagram “anti-gravity room and corner that is perfect for selfies”, the regional chief added, with understated emphasis.
“Having a healthy work-life balance is important to us, especially for mothers in our team and I’m really proud that this office has a maternity room. For mums who choose to bring their children to work, we equipped this room with various facilities and a massage chair.”
Just one more reason for anyone wanting a job in the swirl of social media to send over their credentials.
Touching up the walls
At Facebook, the office walls are just another canvas to dabble on. At the Knowledge Village base, Emirati artist Eman Al Hashemi gets to showcase her work on the walls. She thus becomes the first from the region to be part of Facebook’s first “artist in residence” programme.
The interiors were done by the Dubai office of INC Group. JLL Mena served as consultants.
The meeting rooms come with names such as “Three Men and a Habibi”, “Shawarma”, “Hommous”, “Mabrook”, “Gone with the Sandstorm” and “Return of the Jeddah”.