x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Korean advertising agency Cheil displays its faith in Emirates

Cheil Worldwide, the largest advertising agency in South Korea has more than doubled its staff in the Middle East, as ties between the UAE and Asian country grow.

Azmi Yafi, left, chief operating officer, and Keesoo Kim, the regional chief executive, of Cheil want to take advantage of the growing relationship between South Korea and the UAE. Satish Kumar / The National
Azmi Yafi, left, chief operating officer, and Keesoo Kim, the regional chief executive, of Cheil want to take advantage of the growing relationship between South Korea and the UAE. Satish Kumar / The National

The largest advertising agency in South Korea has more than doubled its staff in the Middle East, as ties between the UAE and Asian country grow.

Cheil Worldwide, which is listed on the Korea Stock Exchange,operates in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and now has 53 employees at its regional headquarters in Dubai, up from 28 a year ago.

Its focus on the Middle East comes as economic ties between the UAE and South Korea grow closer after a deal for nuclear energy was agreed in 2009.

Two-way trade between the countries totalled US$22.1 billion (Dh81.17bn) last year.

Keesoo Kim, the president of Cheil in the Middle East and Africa, said that had helped to boost the advertising firm's client base. "Because of the growing relationship between the UAE and Korea, many Korean companies are starting businesses in this region. So that could be a possibility for us to expand," he said.

Cheil's main South Korean clients active in the region include Samsung, an official sponsor of the Olympic Games in London, along with the tyre company Hankook and Orion Confectionery.

The company also does advertising work for UAE clients such as the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, the Supreme Council of Energy, and Emirates Islamic Bank.

Cheil launched in the Middle East in 2006. It has 11 employees in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, while its One Agency arm has 120 employees in Dubai, the company said.

Azmi Yafi, the chief operating officer for Cheil Worldwide in the Middle East and North Africa, said the proportion of Korean clients in the Middle East was still high but that Cheil hoped to attract more local clients.

"Saudi is a massive potential for us, and Jordan as a hub for the Levant region was another one for us," said Mr Yafi.

The Arab advertising market is forecast to be worth $4.9bn this year and is expected to grow to almost $6bn by 2016, according to the Arab Media Outlook.

Bahk Jae-wan, South Korea's minister of strategy and finance, said in May he expected trade between his country and the UAE to exceed last year's total of $22.1bn.

bflanagan@thenational.ae

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