Meet our Regional Director in the Middle East

5 minutes with Mike Davis

Describe your career in three words

Expect the unexpected
 

You have spent eight years working in the Middle East. What do you think other markets can learn from the region, and vice versa?

The notion of ‘believe in possible’. The scale of ambition in the Middle East is extraordinary and the opportunities that this mentality bring are huge: you very rarely hear someone in this region say that a task is too difficult.

On the flipside, entities in the Middle East could learn to take more of a proactive, considered and planned long-term approach to their activity within the industry. Mature markets such as the UK are an example to this market of how to leverage an opportunity to get the most out of it over a long period. I am sure this will come with time, but the lack of foresight to plan can be frustrating at times!


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Countries in the Middle East are increasingly bidding for and winning the rights to host high profile sporting events, such as Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. What effect do you think this will have on the region over the next decade?

Sport continues to be used as a nation / brand building tool in the Middle East to drive economic gain through inbound tourism and positively affecting softer metrics such as community and corporate engagement. Governments and brands appreciate the positive impact sport and entertainment has on communities; driving engagement, loyalty and advocacy.

I expect to continue to see the region’s level of ambition to grow. The desire to host MEGA events such as EXPO 2020 and the Qatar 2022 World Cup are great examples of these and Dubai has openly stated its intention to host an Olympic Games.  With that comes massive opportunity for the likes of CSM.
 

The popularity of mass participation events has exploded over the last few years and your teams have been at the centre of developing and delivering many of these events. What is your advice for brands looking to get into this space?

Several brands have benefited from the large-scale interest and engagement that mass participation drives.  Particularly non-traditional mass participation.  In the UAE, for example, Electric Run, which our team has managed and delivered, has been an excellent platform for engaging with young Emiratis nearly tripling their involvement compared to national average.  This is a demographic that is traditionally very difficult to reach en-masse so the platform has served several brands well. 

However, we are also seeing several brands make the mistake of thinking they only need to engage at the time of the actual events rather than plan a program of activity in the lead-up to, during and beyond. Those brands who use the platform as a tool for engagement over a time to steal a march on their competitors are driving brand loyalty and advocacy.

What do you see as the biggest growth opportunity for the sport & entertainment industry in the Middle East over the next 5 years?

The continuation of the major and mega-event trend I've talked of.

Across the region, countries are continuining to open up; Saudi Arabia and Iran. Leaders have realised that they need to address certain societal challenges and are using sport and entertainment to achieve this. In turn, there is a big opportunity in these largely untapped markets for brands to engage with audiences through the platform of sport and entertainment.

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What is your most memorable moment in sport?

There are many but the one that sticks out is the 2012 Ryder Cup win by Europe, widely labelled as the Miracle of Medinah. Europe was 10-6 down going into the famous final day. The late great Seve Ballesteros’ aura seemed to come to the fore and inspire the team to one of the greatest comebacks of all time.
 

When not at work, where would we find you?

Spending time with my wonderful family - wife Lou, and daughters Clementine (20 months) and Tallulah (11 weeks). When I can escape nappy changing, on the golf course!