Survey reveals UAE thoughts on coronavirus

Scion Industrial Engineering

Ten percent of people who took part in a recent study in the UAE by research agency Kantar, believed that eating excessive non-vegetarian food could cause Covid-19.

The survey was conducted to understand how behaviours and lifestyles are changing in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Results showed that between 60 and 70 percent of residents were aware of the ‘touchpoints’ on how Covid-19 spreads and the way to stop it.

Some 72 percent of respondents knew that washing hands frequently with soap and water could help fight the disease, while 60 percent believed that using a tissue when coughing and sneezing was important in containing the virus.

Around 64 percent said avoiding contact with people who are unwell is important, while 67 percent agreed that not touching our faces with unwashed hands is essential to avoid the infection.

When asked on ways people can catch Covid-19, 70 percent of respondents identified close contact with infected persons by means of touch, as well as through cough and sneezes. Around 65 percent agreed that contact with contaminated surfaces could be another culprit.

Amol Ghate – CEO Middle East, Insights Division – Kantar, said: “It’s quite encouraging to see that UAE residents are well-aware of the dos and don’ts of Covid-19. This study was the first among the series that Kantar plans to conduct in order to gauge the public behaviour as the situation unfolds resulting in a constant change in dynamics.”


Dubai map shows benefits of social distancing amid coronavirus

Russian local search and digital guides company 2GIS has unveiled an interactive map of Dubai that shows the important of social distancing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

To illustrate the value of social distancing, the company used two models of how a virus spreads in an urban environment. In both cases, sick people transmit the disease to healthy ones, albeit at different speeds.

The first model depicts typical urban life, with no social distancing or other restrictions imposed as people conduct ‘regular’ routines, such as work and family gatherings.

In this model, the number of infected people grows quickly and overwhelms healthcare systems.

The second model – which reflects social distancing – helps avoid high rates of infected.

“This is a model of social interaction in the city. It makes clear why a conscious attitude to a pandemic is everyone’s responsibility and proves that together we can confront the virus,” 2GIS CEO Pavel Mochalkin said.  “Staying at home if possible, self-isolating if you feel unwell, washing your hands more often, keeping a social distance in the office and public places — each decision affects how fast the virus spreads.”

“Social distance today also means taking care of those who may need medical assistance, and it helps to reduce the potential pressure on hospitals,” he added.


Fadi Ghandour to headline first online Step event

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Leading technology festival Step has announced its first online event on April 14, featuring Wamda Group executive chairman Fadi Ghandour and CEO Rabea Ataya.

The free event will see the duo speak about how start-ups can survive during times of economic crisis triggered by the spread of Covid-19. They will offer advice on fundraising and investment and discuss growing sectors and talent, as well as the future of work, which has moved remotely to homes.

Staying true to its interactive aspect, the event will enable participants to network online through one-on-one meetings.

Both Ghandour and Ataya have been in the region since the 1990s, with Ghandour having founded logistics firm Aramex, which became the first Arab-based company to be listed on the NASDAQ in 1997. He was also a founding partner of before it was acquired by Yahoo! for $85m in 2010.

Ghandour then set up Wamda Capital to support regional start-ups by providing them with mentoring and funding, as well as Ruwwad, a non-profit community development organisation founded that works with disenfranchised communities through education, youth volunteerism and grassroots organizing across Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine.

Ataya’s story is also fascinating, having served on the board of Queen Rania’s Foundation, as well as several start-ups, before co-founding InfoFort, a record management company covering the Middle East and Africa.

He then set up in 2000, and grew it into the Middle East’s leading job site, having registered an average of 15,000 professionals every day in 2019 to reach a record of more than 37.7 million resumes.

In March it announced free job postings for employers across the region in an effort to increase the visibility of online work opportunities amid the coronavirus outbreak impacting businesses.

The Step event will begin at 6pm and end towards 8pm.


Dubai taxis to deliver online shopping orders

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Dubai taxis will now help deliver online shopping orders to the city’s residents in response to growing e-commerce demands during quarantine time amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced it has joined forces with online shopping platforms to help speed up the delivery of orders to the public through Dubai Taxi vehicles and franchised taxis.

The first entities the RTA has partnered with are Union Coop Society and Emirates Post.

The authority said the move also aims to reduce pressure on delivery services by online platforms, and ensure the public receive their orders on time.

It is currently seeking to expand the scope of its initiative by covering all online shopping companies, as well as encourage people to use digital platforms.

The UAE’s leadership has requested people to stay at home and practice social distancing in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.


Marketing without backlash: 4 tips on how businesses can re-engage customers during Covid-19


Most people know Kellogg’s – but what you may not know is that Kellogg’s became a household name during the economic recession of the 1920s, because it did the unthinkable.

While the market leader for cereal, ‘Post’ took the expected course of action and cut back on advertising to lower costs, Kellogg’s doubled its advertising budget, amplified its radio spots and maximised promotion of its new cereal, Rice Krispies.

By the time the recession was over, Kellogg’s profits had risen by 30% and it had solidified itself as an industry leader – a position it still claims today.

With coronavirus impacting businesses in a catastrophic way, the first reaction of most companies is to halt all marketing, advertising and PR, in efforts to curtail spending.

For those reeling from the economic fallout, like companies operating in the travel, hospitality and aviation sectors, it makes complete sense. However, what about other sectors like F&B, FMCGs, healthcare and financial institutions, who still continue to see demand?

Simply using the coronavirus as a marketing opportunity is a recipe for disaster, but when a company sees interest from consumers, there is merit to engaging with them in an authentic, genuine and responsible way.

The biggest misconception that brands have is that consumers don’t want to be advertised to during a crisis period. However, this isn’t the case; a global survey of more than 35,000 consumers during Covid-19, by Kantar, revealed that only 8% of respondents thought brands should stop advertising, while 75% agreed that brands should not exploit the situation.

Consumers absolutely want to hear from brands – but not if brands are tone deaf to the implications of the coronavirus pandemic or operating from a place of self-promotion and self-serving interests.

While one size doesn’t fit all, here are four ways that brands can conscientiously engage with customers during the coronavirus crisis:

1. Reiterate your brand values via socially conscious marketing
Brands should focus on how they want to be remembered, once the coronavirus crisis is over.  Fostering trust, relevance and authenticity are critical and a good way to do this is through socially conscious messaging, where brands share ways that people can ‘flatten the curve” or inspiring stories about how they’re contributing to mitigating the crisis.

Consumers want to know that a company’s brand values align with their own and that a brand will step up and stand with them in times of crisis. For example, McDonalds is running a campaign wherein they have separated their iconic golden arches to demonstrate their commitment to ‘social distancing’, while BMW is encouraging people to ‘drive forward without driving at all’.

Certain brands have taken this a step further and introduced measures towards helping people deal with ‘social distancing’; Popeyes started its ‘fried chicken and chill’ campaign where they’re sharing their Netflix username and password with customers, Nike has offered its workout app NTC Premium (in US) for free, so people can work out at home and in an unprecedented move, LVMH  have converted their perfume factory to make hand sanitizer.

2. Introduce alternatives for cash-strapped customers
The coronavirus has had a catastrophic effect on many businesses and caused a major economic downturn, resulting in a staggering decline in consumer spending. To offset this, brands need to look at alternative options that can be utilised for free or at a reduced rate, to help people cope, till the situation stabilizes.

Once customer loyalty has been established, and the crisis is over, the free products can be phased out or upgraded to a paid subscription model. An example of this can be seen in the many video-conferencing products by Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout Meets, who are offering a combination of limited period, free or upgraded access to their services, to help make life easier during the pandemic.

3. Collaborate, adapt and improvise to get on-line…and fast
With social distancing and lock-down in effect, everyone is now going on-line to get information, partake in discussions, make purchases, pass time etc. The quicker brands adapt to the on-line marketplace the better.

A great example of this is the world’s largest mall, The Dubai Mall, which has announced its partnership with e-commerce marketplace, in response to the impact of coronavirus.

The Dubai Mall has signed up with to open a virtual store, whereby all their brick and mortar retailers will have the option to opt-into being part of the virtual store.

A whole range of other businesses have also demonstrated agility of a similar kind; gyms are renting out equipment and offering on-line workout classes, grocery stores are collaborating with independent delivery apps to meet increasing demand, entertainment companies are hosting ‘virtual’ concerts and much more.

4. Amplify your digital presence
With print circulation being curtailed and more people consuming information on-line, brands need to be amplifying their digital presence across the board, ensuring that their business can be easily found, customer interaction happens in ‘real time’ and above all, that they are pushing positive brand recall.

Paid techniques can include increasing on-line ad spend, promoting social media posts and engaging in Search Engine Marketing (SEM), but concurrently, brands need to engage in ‘social listening’ so they can widen their scope and frequency of communication.

For example, if a brand used to post social media content three times a week, then increase it to daily and make sure the content is topical, helpful and on-brand.

Create and upload video content, which is more popular than static content and more appealing to customers. Also use this opportunity to build the thought leadership position of your brand by seeding expert articles to blogs, on-line forums and participate in industry commentary pieces and op-eds of digital e-papers and magazines.

A combination of these efforts will ensure that your brand stays ‘top of mind’, promotes a sense of business stability and fosters a deeper relationship with the customer.