I recently did an interview with Jack Arazi, Project Manager and Founder of World Souq Exhibitions. The company, which was started last year, has just launched its first project MoneySouq, a mini-exhibition of personal finance companies that will set up shop in a number of malls in the UAE.
I took a tour of their first exhibit at the Mall of The Emirates, and could see why the MoneySouq team was so excited about the launch event. Such an exhibition, strategically located in shopping malls, is a relatively new concept in the UAE, although it has been widely adopted by a number of Asian countries. The MoneyExpo held in Bangkok, is visited by about 50,000 consumers over a few days, and is a highly anticipated event in that market. Arazi took inspiration from this business model, and saw the UAE as a perfect opportunity for such an exhibition.
“The UAE is a transitory place. The service industry always has to get their message across so it’s important to do it on a constant basis, so where better than shopping malls? Shopping malls are way of life in this country, we do our shopping, banking and socialising there. Also, we think culturally the face-to-face element is important here, we still value the personal relationship, and the ability to refer back to that person in the future.”
MoneySouq included a wide variety of financial services companies, some specialising in lending, others in wealth management, commodities trading, forex and auto insurance. What makes this type of exhibition stand out is its virtual component. The MoneySouq mobile app is designed to keep the marketing machine going with a unique advertising platform that brings together the exhibit and virtual components. Once a potential customer downloads the app, they browse through the latest offerings from the exhibiting companies, and request a call back. This is of particular value to financial companies, as the UAE issued a ban last year on cold calling.
“There are alot of advertisements out there about companies offering this and that but there is no follow up. The follow up is
always the barrier, one because if someone wants to go to the bank and talk to people, it’s always a process, we just wanted to make this app to make it much easier for everybody. There is a convenience factor, I can browse the products available and if I like it I can request a call back, by being registered the company will have my details and can contact me.”
Jack will plan to launch a marketing campaign specifically for the app, to generate more interest around the concept to the general public. MoneySouq will move on to the Dubai mall at end of September, Abu Dhabi mall in December, and eventually will make its away into other Emirates including Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and possibly Fujeirah by next year. If all goes well, there may be plans to extend the business model to other industries including real estate, health, beauty and education and kids products.
Before joining SME Advisor, I worked as a producer/reporter for Forbes Media in New York. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies at the University of South Florida in the US. I am currently in Dubai working as Sub-Editor for SME Advisor Middle East, which is a business magazine published by CPI. You can follow me on Twitter: @joumanasaad or @SMEadvisorME and (Joumana Saad) or (SME Advisor) on LinkedIn.