Sunday, June 12, 2011

“Quack, quack” at Dubai Media City

My new workmates
My company moved offices at the beginning of the month. What could have been -- and usually is -- a stressful chore, was plain sailing and enjoyable.

Mind you, it was a move just across the street, from one building to another, at Dubai Media City. But the relocation gave me some pleasant surprises and new colleagues.

I’ve been working in Dubai Media City (DMC) for nearly six years. We rented our office off-plan while still in London in 2004. After London’s gray skies, Dubai sounded like the ideal place to be. 

Moving from Thuraya Tower to...
... the CNN building
When we finally moved into the new Thuraya Building in 2005, DMC was still a big sandpit with a few buildings completed. You could park your car right in front of the Thuraya Building entrance, on the sand. There were no parking meters, no roundabouts, no asphalted streets, few restaurants and cafés… DMC was a big construction site.

Dubai’s media hub is part of the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum -- UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. DMC groups all media-related businesses, including media and marketing services, printing and publishing, music, film, new media, leisure and entertainment, broadcasting and information agencies…

DMC's butterfly
Under the slogan “Freedom to Create,” the orange (lips), red (eye) and blue (ear) logo, and welcoming butterfly at its entrance, DMC is part of Dubai Holding. It is a tax-free zone where the regulatory environment is governed by TECOM (Dubai Technology, Electronic Commerce and Media Free Zone Authority -- established in 2000).

From the first day, I loved working there and I have made quite a few friends at DMC over the years.

It was great that we were just moving from Thuraya Tower across the street to the DMC Business Center in the CNN building, one of the first three office blocks built in DMC. The Business Center offers fully furnished and serviced business units, ideal for media professionals, start-ups and freelancers.

Cutting across the lake
So, on my first day at the Business Center, I parked as usual and cut across the lawn to discover the most amazing park area with a lake dotted with spewing fountains that you cross by bridge, a pagoda, rock waterfalls, a camel, water lilies and, above all, new amigos: ducks!

The ducks waddling about
They are all over the lawns and lake, doing little work but instead wading, catching fish and just waddling about.

This white duck floats peacefully among the water lilies
Although ducks are made to swim and fly, the DMC ones are happy lazing on the grass banks and shading under the palm and flame trees. They were pleased to pose for pictures and are most entertaining to watch floating gracefully on the water, their webbed feet churning beneath them.

I was told by one of the security guards walking around that there are water turtles, but I haven’t spotted them yet.
DMC's hand-painted silver camel
DMC's silver camel is one of 80 that were part of Camel Caravan, the Gulf's first public art project in 2004 that merged commerce and art with charity. The iconic hand-painted fiberglass camels that are dotted all over the city were auctioned to raise money for children's charities and the development of art and culture in Dubai.

I also wonder what happens to the ducks and how they cope during all the festivals and events that take place on the DMC lawns.

These start with the Dubai Marathon in January, when the finish line is positioned just in front of Thuraya Tower and the hospitality stalls are scattered around the lake. The Dubai International Jazz Festival is staged in February and Taste of Dubai in March. This is a festival with participating restaurants, chefs, performers, exhibitors and sponsors where visitors can sample dishes from 22 of the city’s finest eateries.

In between, there are many more events and it seems stages are constantly going up and being torn down, which makes parking in DMC even more difficult and maybe why I haven't had the occasion to walk around that area.

"Good Morning DMC" June edition on personal finance
One event I do look forward to is the “Good Morning DMC” breakfast on the first Thursday of each month on the ground floor of the CNN building. And I didn’t have to walk far for the June 2 fourth edition. These mornings, organized for the partners by the DMC Business Center, are a good occasion to meet colleagues, network and have an excellent breakfast. The June theme, "Expert Discussion on Personal Finance," was a great success (photos here). 

Unfortunately, with temperatures in the 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) and rising, it is now much too hot to spend time with my new duck friends. But come the cooler months at the end of the year, I could take my laptop out and work under the palm trees and get to know them better.

Meet my new workmates here.