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Linking the New Middle East

Ariella Steinreich, Senior Vice President of Steinreich Communications, speaks on the role the PR company has played in bridging the communications gap between Israel and the UAE.

By Nisthula Nagarajan

Published: Mon 18 Jan 2021, 4:40 PM

Steinreich Communications Group, Inc. is one of the fastest-growing global independent public relations (PR) firms since 2003, with a range of client services such as media relations, investor and community relations, social media management, corporate philanthropy, government affairs, advertising and branding, among others. The company is headquartered in the New York area with offices around the world. Currently, Steinreich Communications is a key facilitator of Gulf-Israel relations and have teams in both locations.

As the daughter of a former reporter and current owner of a PR firm, Ariella and her siblings grew up with news in their bones and a voracious appetite for reading. Her affinity for the Middle East comes from the news centring around certain regional aspects like oil and gas, with Dubai being a major financial hub. Six years ago, Ariella joined Steinreich Communications, and it was around that time when Jewish business owners in the west started expressing interest in doing business in the Gulf and were looking for a partner on the communications side who understood their value system, culture and needs. "They needed someone to translate their brand ethos to an audience they didn't have experience with but they were referred to us because of our deep expertise in the Gulf. Now, we represent many organisations with Jewish interests tied to the Gulf," remarked Ariella.

In the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, the firm is working with thought leaders, organisations and non-profits. The firm sees a melding of skills and talent in several sectors, particularly technology, travel and tourism, education and healthcare. In travel and tourism, they are helping hotels understand how to make Jewish guests feel at home, with the availability of kosher food, for example. In technology, the firm forecasts fintech and agritech to be frontrunners. "The whole world is trying to rebound economically post Covid-19. What better time to open up new markets than now. Following the Abraham Accords, Israelis have access to two markets in the Gulf - the UAE and Bahrain - and Bahrain and the UAE each can access the Israeli market," stated Ariella.

Working with clients in the professional services, home furnishings, fashion, consumer goods, education, travel and tourism sectors etc., Steinreich Communications launched a UAE-Israel specialty practice following the Abraham Accords, led by Ariella, to help Israeli and Gulf businesses explore new regional relationships following the announcement of the Abraham Accords. What originally started as a service for Emirati and Israeli companies and organisations quickly grew to include Bahrain once the Kingdom announced the normalisation of relations with Israel. The practice has already grown tremendously in the travel and tourism, food, tech and finance sectors and is looking to do more cross-border business. Many of firm's existing clients moved into the practice as well. Ariella is quick to praise her team, "My colleagues and I view our work as a mission and we are very passionate about what we're doing. We're honoured to help in whatever way we can. We're excited about the New Middle East."

PR firms play a vital role in educating the public. At its core PR is about storytelling and when it comes to these Accords and the next steps once they are signed, messaging is critical. Firms test multiple types of messaging and gauge the reaction. In the UAE, people were incredibly supportive of the UAE-Israel agreement from its very announcement. Tied to that, social media has played a pivotal role in these Accords as that is where many-a-time, news and announcements are first broken. Ariella touts social media as the winner of 2020, stating that Twitter is the way to reach the masses. She noted that both the announcements about the UAE-Israel normalisation and the Bahrain-Israel normalisation were announced on Twitter. She is quick to thank the Emirati and Bahraini social media influencers who were supportive of these announcements from the beginning and helped spread positivity about them to their followers, regardless of naysayers. "Their leaders took the bold step of establishing relations with Israel but what makes these Accords different from other peace deals Israel has with its neighbours is that the people here are supportive of them. They are helping to carry them out through business and friendship," stated Ariella.

The signing of the Abraham Accords was momentous not just for the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, it was significant for Jews worldwide. Harnessing skills and new talents, an illustration of the new Middle East is born. The goal is for future generations to never know anything different. Emirati, Bahraini and Israeli children will study in the same university classrooms, and the same children will see no anomalies when they grow up to become the leaders in business, finance, academia, etc. The Accords also present an investment gateway to the Middle East for Jews from other parts of the world. "The possibilities are endless," said Ariella, adding excitedly, "There is a transformation happening in the Middle East and it's wonderful to watch it develop."

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