Alaa Al Rantisi

What was your motivation behind founding your own company 20 years ago?

I co-founded Advanced Media in Dubai 20 years ago with the same sense of fearlessness and perhaps unearned confidence that all youths possess at that age, but I was definitely confident in my decision to establish my business in this city. Dubai was a young and vibrant city with so much potential and growing in every aspect. I guess we had that in common. I was coming from a background in broadcasting, having worked at tv station previously, and we were witnessing a historical increase in the number of tv stations in the region. To give you an example, Al Arabiya was launched from Dubai in 2003 as a 24-hour new channels and that was a sort of catalyst that encouraged a steady rise of about 5 per cent every month in the number of new and diverse stations being launched. You could say that I was at the right place at the right time possessing the right kind of knowledge and intuition to start a company.

How has Dubai helped you in shaping and developing your company?

Dubai with its generally favourable commercial environment and exemplary leadership have not only been a major driving force for our business but also a great motivator and example to follow. Over the years, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruer of Dubai, in his infinite wisdom and foresight has introduced diverse initiatives and activated numerous projects that have granted us the freedom to expand and explore. Shaikh Mohammad has always been aware of the importance and value of media in disseminating information, educating the public and positioning Dubai regionally and globally as this sort of utopia where the impossible becomes possible. This visionary and progressive style of leadership sets the pace for every business that is based here.

For instance, our business model is not focused solely on distributing equipment but rather responding and adapting to new technologies and advancements that would empower both ourselves and our consumers. In order for us to pursue our vision, we need the confidence and support of a leadership who also believes and invests in the latest technological trends and developments and how they can enrich our lives. Dubai Media City is a great example of the sort of government project that empowered and enabled commercial entities and media experts to find a creative hub to discuss new ventures, provide solutions, endow entrepreneurs, and adapt with the times.

I see contributing to the progress and the sustainable development of the media industry through enabling the young generation as the biggest mission of Advanced Media and to see that our mission is aligned with the values and goals of the Government of Dubai motivates and energises me every day.

Your company has survived the financial crisis and the global pandemic so far, and perhaps many more crises, how have you weathered the storms?

We have of course faced crises, like many other companies, in the last two decades but I personally always had faith in the leadership and believed in their abilities to restore faith in the market and steer us back in the right direction. I can frankly say that I believed in the UAE more than I believed in myself. However, as a business we experienced challenging years in a period between 2012 to when social media really became the dominant medium for entertainment and news. People’s preference and taste in viewership shifted from traditional broadcasting stations to online media and that affected the directionality of our business.

The great news is that in recent years, people are flocking back to their televisions again as we see a proliferation and rise of streaming platforms and over-the-top (OTT) media services. The demand for content, be it online marketing or streaming, has presented us with new and exciting opportunities. I guess my greatest asset as a managing director has always been my faith in the system and willingness to adapt and respond accordingly and creatively to crises.

What is the advice that you would give someone who wants to start a company now?

The Dubai Dream still has a long way to go. Of course, it is not as easy or as cost effective as it once used to be, but it is a city that is always one step ahead of the changing times and responding promptly and effectively to welcome and facilitate the start and growth of new ventures and ideas. The timely introduction of 12 types of work permits by Shaikh Mohammed in 2022 to ensure new labour regulations and diversify the economy in tandem with the Invest in Dubai smart platform launched last year, not to mention the exciting new immigration policies, all cement this belief that the Dubai Dream is very much alive and has a long way to go.

Take Dubai’s world-renowned skyline and truly remarkable infrastructure, from Burj Khalifa to Museum of the Future to Ain Dubai. These landmarks design an awe-inspiring backdrop that makes this city an exciting destination and a creative hub where every international company will eventually come for their productions and advertisements. It is a trend that has been gaining more and more strength every year. Dubai is becoming the hub for commercial media in the region and every single one of these companies would have to rely on local enterprises to deliver their projects.