Firas Mghames on Saudi Arabia's ad business model
Posted on 2024 Jan,10

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Firas Mghames, CEO of Feer McQueen, sheds light on surviving the influx of agencies in Saudia Arabia. Looking beyond regional comparisons, he shares his pertinent outlook on the state of the Saudi ad business.

On the Saudi crowded agency landscape

We’re going to see a lot of agencies cropping up now because there’s a huge demand. But we’re also going to see a lot of agencies failing, eventually that’s always the process of things. It has been the same in other markets – Riyadh is no different. The issue is with quality, not quantity. Agencies haven’t been able to retain all clients because of their internal growth and lack of experience.

More and more people are hungry for this healthy agency market. As clients are exposed to a thriving agency landscape, they will become more aware and be able to identify who to work with and where they see their success.

The ad business model in Riyadh is seeing more and more clients moving from ad hoc tasks, campaigns, and hit and runs to more strategy related marketing decisions. Everyone has been thirsty for campaigns because of the exponential growth that occurred in Riyadh.

But now that the dust has settled and the growth has become steady and organic, they are no longer thinking short term. Long-term visions and strategies that cover a more 360 scope are in the making. Moreover, the private sector has been observing the public sector and learning from that, being influenced by their success in the marketing realm. Now, a minority has started to look at it – but they will eventually surely influence the rest.


"In Dubai, excellence and advancement is a given. In Riyadh, all of this is brand new and impressive as it’s unfolding."


On Saudi Arabia stealing the show over Dubai

Dubai is Dubai. Riyadh is Riyadh. I don’t see them competing in that sense. One’s growth isn’t based on the other. Their success is not mutually exclusive.

How I see it, Europe as a whole is thriving. Paris doesn’t take away from Milan’s spotlight. Milan doesn’t overshadow London, and London doesn’t take anything away from Berlin. They all have their unique faces, and they’re all successful in their own ways. Their economies are independent, and one’s rise has nothing to do with the fall of the other in a direct sense.

Dubai and Riyadh both have their own markets, and when competition will happen, I believe it will be healthy and beneficial to both. At this point in time, KSA’s growth is huge. The growth in Riyadh might seem like it’s overshadowing Dubai, but that’s only because Dubai’s growth is now steady because they’ve already reached the top. In Dubai, excellence and advancement is a given. In Riyadh, all of this is brand new and impressive as it’s unfolding.

Surely, there will be a migration from Dubai to Riyadh for some people and companies in the industry. But I believe that will create a healthy link where they can share their understandings of Dubai, the metropolitan city with a fast pace and very high stakes. The same applies for professionals coming in from Beirut and Cairo, to name a few. They will come with their experience and add it to the Riyadh market.