Rawad Eldahouk: 'Saudi Arabia is less of an ‘El Dorado’ and more like the California Gold Rush'
Posted on 2023 Feb,03

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A vibrant advertising market that is witnessing tremendous growth, the scene in the Saudi Arabia looks geared toward progress and meaningful change as the Kingdom embraces all manner of new technologies, innovation and creativity to cement its pioneering spirit and leadership.

ArabAd sought insight from a selection of advertising professionals to get a true feel of the pulse of the Saudi ad business, and to delve deeper into the challenges and opportunities facing the local ad industry, by asking them the following:

Saudi Arabia looks like the new “El Dorado” for the regional communication industry to such an extent that numerous foreign ad agencies are extending their footprints into the kingdom. How do you view the mushrooming of agencies and the increased competition this creates? Do you think the market can accommodate all these new arrivals, and can these agencies thrive easily in this new open environment that seems to promise so many opportunities? What are you doing to sharpen your agency’s edge? Can we talk about a new era for the Saudi ad industry?

Here is what Rawad Eldahouk, Head of Planning, Wunderman Thompson KSA had to say:

Saudi Arabia is on its way to becoming the sixth-richest economy in 2050 as projected by Arabian Business, with nearly four times the current GDP per capita. 

This isn’t an empty promise! It is solidified day by day with an unprecedented increase in spending across all sectors from data and AI, health care, education, entertainment, real-estate with megaprojects announced on a regular basis, and an impressive growth in Saudi SMEs.

No, the promise of gold in KSA is not a myth. In fact, it’s less of an “El Dorado” and more like the California Gold Rush of the 1850s.

With a market with such promising potential, it’s only natural that we start witnessing foreign ad agencies flocking to Saudi Arabia in hopes of a piece of the pie. The question here isn’t whether the market can grasp all the new arrivals, but whether the new arrivals have a good grasp of the Saudi market.

As an agency entrenched in Saudi Arabia with roots going all the way back to 1987, we have seen the market evolve year after year as new trends, new tech and new social channels come and go. Yet what remains constant is Saudis’ love for local authentic work that goes beyond just being insightful and relevant, but speaks from a pure Saudi voice, a fact so obvious today with the explosion of local ad agencies eager to prove themselves in the market.


“Saudi Arabia is less of an ‘El Dorado’ and more like the California Gold Rush”


In the face of this overwhelmingly increasing competition, both local and foreign, we at Wunderman Thompson are adamant about adhering to our promise and inspire growth on every front. We continue to leverage our expertise and trainings to empower our local Saudi talents to continue to create solid creative and disruptive work that has won them and the agency regional and international recognition time after time.

And to meet our partners’ ever-evolving needs, we are taking keen steps to strengthen our role in the market by leveraging our position within the WPP network, utilizing our global tools to expand our offering beyond disruptive communications to full-tech solutions, CRM, commerce, consulting, research and data mining.

So, let’s welcome together a new era for the Saudi ad industry that hopefully isn’t just on par with the global ad scene, but aims to put the KSA and its talents on the forefront of the industry.