The UAE's 'new-age' charm is attracting talents from all over the world

Dubai is no longer a piece of wood but a piece of metal that everyone wants to visit

By Nuseir Yassin

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Published: Thu 2 Dec 2021, 11:03 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Dec 2021, 11:20 PM

I believe Dubai will win in the near future. It might surprise you, but it’s true. I’m not talking about winning in terms of political or economic power, but in terms of social media.

Why do I believe this? And why social media? Years ago, I did a video called The Magnet Trap. It essentially talked about how in the world, people only want to visit some places — Paris, California, London — and not others — Dubai, the Philippines, Puerto Rico — because they see those places on the news, on TV, in films, and, of course, on Facebook.

Just like how magnets are attracted to a piece of metal and not a piece of wood. For years, Dubai was like that piece of wood.

When people thought of Dubai, the middle of a desert appeared to be the total recall. Nobody cared that this was the home to some of the world’s greatest innovations. That’s why Dubai and the UAE started investing in more than just technology or science. It opened its doors to the world’s media powerhouses, like BBC or CNN. It created Dubai Media City to attract foreign news organisations, publishing firms, production companies, and advertising agencies.

In 1971, the year the UAE was founded, the young nation had just two newspapers — only in Arabic, the lingua franca of the region — and not a single major media company.

Now, 50 years later, it has more than 2,000 media organisations based out of Dubai Media City alone. Dubai became a hub for media in the Middle East and the rest of the world. But in 2021, traditional media isn’t enough.

You need Facebookers, TikTokers, YouTubers. So, they reached out to people like Nas Studios to talk about the real story of Dubai. They reached out to schools like Nas Academy to train local aspiring content creators. That’s how one day in 2020, I found myself flying to Dubai.

I talked about how Dubai was open, how it was safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, and how it even had a mission — as the first Arab nation — to send a rocket to Mars. Those 10 videos were watched by more than 500 million people all over the world. That’s how I knew that the UAE is on to something.

I also spent three months with my team in Nas Academy to train 80 new Arab creators. Some were students, housewives, unskilled workers, and many of them didn’t even have any video skills. We taught them how to script, film, and tell their own story to a worldwide audience. And together, we made more than 1,500 videos about the UAE that reached millions.

But that’s not all. During my time in Dubai, I was blown out of my mind by just how fast this city was growing right in front of my eyes. I wanted to be here to see how much it can grow in another 50 years. I decided to build a full, 14,000-square-feet office for Nas Studios and Nas Academy right at Al Quoz in Dubai. Dubai is no longer a piece of wood but a piece of metal that everyone wants to visit.

(The author is a CEO at Nas Academy, which operates out of Dubai and Singapore)

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