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John Rossant, the executive chairman of PublicisLive, says the UAE has potential to hold world-class events. Lee Hoagland / The National
John Rossant, the executive chairman of PublicisLive, says the UAE has potential to hold world-class events. Lee Hoagland / The National

Meet the man who brings Rupert Murdoch to Abu Dhabi

The Life: John Rossant, executive chairman of PublicisLive, speaks about why he thinks the UAE has the potential to hold more world-class events in the future.

PublicisLive produces one of the world's biggest business events, the World Economic Forum, every year in Davos. For the past 18 months, the Switzerland-based events organiser has also had a base here in Abu Dhabi. John Rossant, the executive chairman, speaks about why he thinks the UAE has the potential to hold more world-class events in the future.

 

How many events do you organise altogether each year?

Around 30. Here in Abu Dhabi, we have been organising the Abu Dhabi Media Summit for the last three years. That brings together people like Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google and Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation and other media luminaries. It's incredibly powerful to be with them for two and a half days and exchange ideas and things like that. It's really quite good.

 

How long have you been operating here?

We have had a full Abu Dhabi office for the last year and a half.

 

Why did you set it up?

Because we already had quite a lot of business here. I felt that Abu Dhabi had a brilliant future in terms of events, because it has an extraordinary combination of a great international airport hub, a wonderful world-class airline that is expanding its reach to key cities in the world, terrific five- star hotels, a very open economic system, eagerness to engage with the rest of the world and there's a good story here. Very important is simply the geographical position of Abu Dhabi in our increasingly multipolar and globalised world. The market for very high quality world-class events in this part of the world can only grow.

 

And you also have an office in Dubai?

We are just opening an office in Dubai now. Because of the government summit that we organised in Dubai, we have a very strong relationship with the Prime Minister's office and the Government of Dubai. We felt that to expand in Dubai we really needed to have a physical presence there, not only in Abu Dhabi. We are discussing a number of fairly big projects there.

 

With Dubai only?

Also with Abu Dhabi.

 

Can you say anything about the themes?

Three years ago we launched an independent non-profit foundation called the New Cities Foundation, which looks at new urbanisation around the world. I personally think this is the big question facing humanity. The majority of the world's population now lives in cities. The move to cities, especially in the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia is unprecedented and we as humanity need to get cities right. What we are particularly looking at in the New Cities Foundation is the way cities are using arts and culture to be more competitive. I think this clearly resonates in Abu Dhabi, where Saadiyat Island is coming on-stream. We think it would be great to have a conference on this theme on Saadiyat Island when [The Louvre] opens.

 

gduncan@thenational.ae

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