My UAE: the Emirati touch of Saleh Al Braik
Tapping into the Emirati market brings success some UAE companies can only dream about. This is where public relations boss Saleh Al Braik can help.
The Emirati, 25, set up the PR company Think Up to help businesses attract Emirati customers.
“Although the [local] population is small, the spending power of this community is very large,” he says. “For companies, they are realising this. Even some local companies don’t have the knowledge and capabilities of how to connect with them.”
The spending power of Emirati youth can’t be harnessed through television or radio, he says; it works by word of mouth and social media. “You would be amazed how quickly you can get people talking if someone young and cool is going to a certain place. They all think it’s cool.”
Al Braik, from Dubai, brainstorms ways to help companies “think Emirati” often by connecting them with talented young Emiratis who come with their own following. Recently, a swimwear company used three Emirati brothers as models and a 17-year-old Emirati photographer to shoot its latest campaign.
“They approached us and told us they wanted to get into the Emirati community. We said, why not do the first Emirati photoshoot? We see a lot of ads everywhere and some of them are very general and they don’t have that touch of Emirati in them.”
Thanks to his active social media presence – his Twitter account @FearlessinDubai has more than 55,000 followers – Al Braik has recruited thousands of young Emiratis to help good causes. “One huge part of the organisation is corporate social responsibility,” he says. “It’s about engaging the community. This year, we had more than 450 young Emiratis help distribute meals to the poor during Ramadan.
“I am proud of the work we can do when we all work together.”
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Driving cars that don’t belong to me. I love cars and I always manage to take my dad’s car, and my friends’ cars, without them knowing. The policy in my dad’s house is when Saleh’s home, the car keys can’t be left out.
What’s your favourite read?
I’m not an avid reader but I make sure I read Dan Brown’s books whenever I can. I probably have to read it five times before I understand it, but it’s enjoyable. The best is probably The Lost Symbol.
Your favourite place to travel?
If I had to pick a city I’d say Tokyo. I’ve been twice and I still say ‘if there’s anywhere I could be in a second, I would always choose Japan’. It’s beautiful and I can’t imagine another place like it.
What’s your favourite music?
I’m a Maroon 5 kind of guy but then I have to admit I go into the rap world and listen to some Pitbull and other people in that genre.
One item you can’t live without?
My phone, definitely my phone. My wife Shaima even makes fun of me and says ‘if you had to choose between me and your phone, I know I wouldn’t win’. I would pick her, of course, but I definitely couldn’t live without my phone.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
It might sound like a safe role model but I would be lying if I said anyone else but Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He makes me want to achieve higher. He’s such an inspiration. I’ve been in the same room with him a couple of times and it gives you that goosebump feeling of being with someone with such love in his heart.
Anything from Starbucks. I’m addicted to it.
How do you celebrate National Day?
The tradition for me, the way it has always been done and will continue to be done, is just to take my car and go have fun with people on Jumeirah Beach Road. I keep my windows closed, I’m not one of the wild ones. I’m also part of the cleaning committee that goes out really early, at about 6am, to clean up the mess on Beach Road. It’s done with the police, and it’s usually done by 11am.
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