Alia Al Mur — building a people-centric Dubai

A stellar career that aims to transform lives as an ace communication professional


Joydeep Sengupta

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Photo by Shihab
Photo by Shihab

Published: Sun 20 Nov 2022, 3:11 PM

Last updated: Fri 25 Nov 2022, 2:53 PM

Alia Al Mur is a unique Emirati professional, whose work in both private and government entities have always had a common denominator — Dubai’s incredible growth and development and transforming people’s lives in the new millennium — that catapulted her to her current role with the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), the guiding force behind the Museum of the Future, which was opened in February.

Al Mur, an ideas person, is the Chief Transformation and Partnerships Officer at DFF and “is spearheading its efforts in managing and developing partnerships with key stakeholders on a local and global level”.

She is also responsible for identifying opportunities and developing processes to create a strategy that drives efficiency and return on investments (RoI).

Prior to her current role, she was the Chief Marketing Officer at DFF.

Her impressive academic credentials — she holds a B.Sc in Communication and Media Sciences, and an MA in International Relations and Diplomacy, both from Zayed University — have helped her excel as an ace communication professional.

She is also a graduate of the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Leadership Development (MBRCLD) programme, a prestigious cohort that was set up in 2003 with the intent of “creating leaders for tomorrow”.

Al Mur has been fortunate to come in contact with some of the dynamic Emiratis during her illustrious career.

For instance, in 2016, she was only the fifth employee to join Smart Dubai and her career as the Marketing & Communications Director of the newly-formed Dubai Government entity prospered, thanks to her mentor, Dr Aisha bint Butti bin Bishr.

Bin Bishr was the Director-General of the Smart Dubai Office, which was rechristened Digital Dubai last year and is the government entity entrusted with the emirate’s digital transformation as envisaged by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Al Mur is credited with assembling the Smart Dubai’s marketing team from scratch. In addition to leading a rebranding project, she was responsible for Smart Dubai’s global positioning and brand awareness. Overseeing all entity partnerships, speaking opportunities and team positioning, she worked on campaigns and products including the Dubai Paperless Strategy, Dubai Blockchain Strategy, Dubai's Ethical AI Toolkit, Smart Employee, and Dubai Cashless Strategy.

She led Smart Dubai’s participation at GITEX and international events and exhibitions including the Smart City Expo World Congress at Barcelona in Spain.

She had started her career in a private entity, Emaar Properties, and was the only Emirati employee of the iconic The Dubai Mall since pre-opening in 2008 — it opened on November 4, 2008 — as a Marketing Executive and rose through the ranks to hold several leadership positions till she moved on to Smart Dubai in 2016.

In 2014, Al Mur was named Employee of the Year at EMAAR.

“I held a dual role as Head of Events and Marketing as well as the Head of Specialty Leasing for The Dubai Mall. I was involved in the opening of both The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa, which included over 600 events and exhibitions,” she said.

Her most notable achievement at EMAAR was bringing international brands’ exhibitions to The Dubai Mall. She was a key driver of the iconic annual event – Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience (VFDE), which was held for three years in partnership with Vogue Italia.

In retrospect, her culminating achievement at The Dubai Mall was kickstarting the “support local” movement by partnering with Design 971, a pop-up store that acted as a premium platform for up-and-coming UAE-based fashion designers to showcase their collections.

She reminisced about her “quick career progression” with fondness.

“While working at Smart Dubai, I led an initiative to create a people-centric government identity for the entity. I led the marketing team to build a storyline focused on achievements from a citizen perspective. Today, Smart Dubai is recognised as a global leader of people-centric smart city initiatives. So much so that the United Nations (UN’s) International Telecommunication Union invited Smart Dubai to co-create global KPIs for cities to identify as a smart city,” she added.

Al Mur inspired the creation of the Hamdan bin Mohammed Students Personal Development Programme (HMSPDP) following a candid conversation with Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of DFF, while enrolled in the MBRCLD programme.

She is also involved in mentoring students and helping them to identify talents and skills to aid their development. Her achievements such as being selected as “Promising 40 Under 40 UAE Nationals” speak for themselves as an endearing role model for the next generation of talented Emiratis, who will take the young nation to the Next 50.

A Dubaian at heart

Al Mur, a Dubaian at heart, grew up in a large family of eight siblings at Rashidiya in the city.

Her communication skills blossomed in her undergraduate years at the Zayed University. In 2005, she started a podcast on diverse topics under the guidance of James Piecowye, Associate Professor in the College of Communication and Media Sciences, Zayed University, which ran for a couple of years.

Al Mur has two boys, whose birthdays coincided with two eventful days in the UAE’s calendar and history.

The eldest Mohammed was born on October 14, 2018 — on the day GITEX Global started on that year — and the youngest is Thani, who was born on February 22, the day the Museum of Future was inaugurated this year. Her husband is Shames Al Hashemi, an entrepreneur and a retailer.

Al Mur is fond of yoga and loves to travel. “Collecting sneakers is one of my passions,” she added.

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