Holmes Report 05 Jun 2017 // 2:53PM GMT
DUBAI — Agency heads are concerned about the potential business impact that the escalating crisis between Qatar and Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will have on the industry.
The four countries, who allege that Qatar has provided support to militant groups, have stopped flights to and from Doha, while Saudi Arabia has closed its land border with the country.
Home to major organizations such as the Qatar Foundation, Qatar Airways, and Ooredoo, Doha has become one of the largest markets for agencies. While several firms — including H+K Strategies and ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller do have an in-country presence in Doha, many also fly in staff from their Middle East hubs, which are predominantly Dubai-based.
The Holmes Report spoke to several agency heads although, given the sensitivity of the issue, none were willing to speak on the record. However, it is clear that the diplomatic row has the potential to impact both their operations and revenues.
"We have a number of clients in Doha, and we often fly teams in from Dubai. With the flight ban, there’s no way we can service our clients from Dubai. We will have to look at flying people in from Lebanon, or working remotely. The worst-case scenario is that we’ll have to cease working with our Qatari clients," explained the head of one multinational PR agency.
Another, which has contracts with government clients in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, questioned if he’d be put in a situation where he’d have to choose which clients to work for: "While we all hope that this situation is resolved as soon as possible, there’s a possibility that this may get worse before it gets better. Will one group of clients ask me to drop another due to political considerations? That is a distinct possibility, given how quickly Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are moving to economically isolate Qatar."