When I first found out about Sail eMagazine’s Editor in Chief, Iman Ben Chaibah, through the jury of the Young Creative Entrepreneur Award from the British Council I was inspired. This prompted me to reach out to this ballsy female entrepreneur and propose that we execute a content partnership. She responded enthusiastically, throwing out ideas in a decisive and positive chain of emails. I explained to her that prior to Entrepreneur Middle East,I’d been with an arts and culture-oriented magazine focusing on that specific sort of content and that the shift was pretty big in terms of content and direction. Here are three things that I’ve observed in my new position thus far.
1) Women are tough as nails
At my previous magazine, many of the women who interacted with the magazine on social media used me as a benchmark for being firm and proactive. I wasn’t posing provocatively or wearing the least amount of clothing for the camera, and besides, we as the staff set the standard for women who could be looked at in Lebanon for more than just our physical attributes. I’m nicely saying that we set established roles for future powerful females and less of a Kim Kardashian wannabe. In my new position, I’m surrounded by business-minded women, and damn it feels good! No Kardashian-lovers here; and don’t mind my saying so, but it feels freaking amazing! My old readership of smart girls has more or less stayed the course with me and I think they like my new work as much as they like my old work.
2) Men are surprising
I had to exert my personality to have men in the industry take the magazine I previously worked at seriously. Whether it was the mindset in Lebanon’s mainstream media or just good ole’ macho overdrive, I can’t say. At Entrepreneur and in the UAE, men are constantly yet pleasantly surprising me for seeing eye-to-eye with me; and in general, just enjoying the positive business ride that we at Entrepreneur endeavor to provide.
One significant detail to note – No one cares that I’m a woman! The readers don’t see my gender and neither do my many media colleagues. Glory, glory and watch me throw up my hands in happiness every single day. One more thing I love? No one comments about my appearance and no one asks if I’m in a relationship – believe me, it used to happen quite often. The UAE seems to foster respectful boundaries that make me feel better as a woman in business. Refreshing.
3) Engagement is as engagement does
I was told that when we launched Entrepreneur, we wouldn’t have the kind of fun interaction on social media that my previous publication did. I’ve managed to prove all the naysayers wrong. Sure, my previous publication was about pop culture, music and all kinds of madness that prompted people to talk to us on Twitter and write letters to me, but my current publication does that too – albeit differently. On a daily basis, I have tons of people tweeting images of the magazine when they get their hands on a hard copy and sharing our articles online with their own commentary interjected. There is a sick (in a good way) dialogue going and it’s because business doesn’t have to be boring. Business content, on the contrary, can be just as interesting as everything else, and with the right spin doctor on the job, you can do wonders.
What’s the most relevant lesson I’ve learned at Entrepreneur thus far? That Dubai in specific and the UAE as a whole, wants you to succeed. The people here just want to move forward, no matter what their nationality is. They want to see you do well and they celebrate when you do. I saw Iman do well and I celebrated the fact that she did. I want to be part of the rush and “when in Rome…”
I’ll see you on the interwebs and I look forward to hearing about your personal successes, both big and small.