Cityscape, the glitzy property show of the Middle East, unveiled the world’s most dynamic developments last week in its own inimitable style. Developers clamoured to unveil the biggest, boldest and the best of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, masterplans that dwarfed most European cities, and hotels to host thousands of tourists.
The disparity between CNN’s depiction of Western economic calamity on my hotel room TV and the Cityscape plans for Middle Eastern expansion was, to the say the very least, vast.
The Dubai-based event showed off a record breaking new project Nakheel’s Harbour and Tower, a project that will boast a skyscraper well over a kilometre tall and cater for 60,000 residents. The Meraas project showed off a £55 billion development to expand Dubai even further into the desert and an illustrative model that cost over a £1m alone.
As well as marvelling at these models, I was impressed by the spin that supported the project launches. The marketing teams for these developers were ruthless in thrusting their developments into the limelight.
Ahead of the event, the regional media was full of rumours, half-truths and leaks as to the scale of the projects to be announced and their value. Images for ghost projects sprung out of nowhere, speculation centred on several developments that were more than double the world record breaking height. It is impossible to guess who was responsible for PR-ing these phantom projects which never actually appeared of course but the spin surrounding them generated a firestorm of global coverage and brand awareness. Dubai and the other prominent cities of the region represent a brave new world for property and architecture.
But the PR and marketing supporting it isn’t half bad either. Note the huge amount of coverage for Atlantis, the new uber-hotel unveiled at the tip of the Palm Jumeirah. Is there a magazine or newspaper that hasn’t featured an article or advertisement since its September launch?
The Atlantis PRs have used a nice variety of angles to maintain public profile – freeing Sammy the Whale Shark from the aquarium, the world’s tallest water slide, the first hotel room with underwater views etc. Consumer awareness gold!
It has been locally based PRs and marketers who have done a magnificent job of promoting the dream of Dubai i.e. beaches, sunshine and double digit growth on property prices.
The media keep looking at the UAE model and asking how long the good times can last but while the PR continues to be as refined as it was around Cityscape then the region’s incredible growth looks set to continue.