Elias Ashkar, Saatchi & Saatchi’s Regional CEO for Middle East and North Africa (MENA), has been named one of the 50 most influential expatriates in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by Arabian Business magazine. Saatchi & Saatchi was the only ‘Top Ten’ Regional advertising agency to have made the power list released this week.
The “Expat Power 50” recognises the expatriate community’s contribution to the exponential growth of the GCC countries, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE. According to Andrew White, editor of Arabian Business, the people on the list “have established themselves as key figures across a range of industries and sectors crucial to the ongoing development of the Gulf region”. The editorial team at Arabian Business spent six months compiling the list, comparing and contrasting over 500 people from across the Gulf region.
Ashkar joined Saatchi & Saatchi in 2008 to help build their reputation as a creative hothouse in the region, and believes that this latest announcement will raise their profile with local and regional clients.
Ashkar said: “This came as a surprise knowing the kind of world class talent and skills that this region attracts from around the globe. The timing of it could not have been better knowing that we are in the process of restructuring and strengthening our resources and our capabilities in the MENA region.
“Making it to the list of the 50 most influential expatriates in the GCC region is something that we should be able to leverage in attracting the best talents around, as well as to raise our profile vis-a-vis current and potential clients.”
Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai made headlines earlier this year when the Agency won the tender to market the Dubai Metro, the Gulf’s first underground metro system. Other clients in the region include; Procter & Gamble (Pampers, Ariel, Crest, Head & Shoulders, Olay), Red Bull, Novartis, SAMBA and Federal Foods.
Elias Ashkar began his career with Procter & Gamble before taking on a global marketing role with Mattel, based in Los Angeles. He then came to the Middle East to run JWT/TMI for six years in charge of Saudi Arabia, in addition to other broader regional responsibilities. In 1990, Ashkar moved to Pepsi Cola International as Vice President, in charge of marketing and business development across the Middle East and Africa.
He subsequently joined the Coca-Cola Company, spending eleven years running its businesses across a range of countries including Iran, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the countries of Central Asia, Ukraine and Belarus.