When my colleagues and I started Gulf Public Relations in 1974 there were but three local agencies and one international. The locals were Gulf Publicity, headed by Yusif Zubari; Arab Consult which was Ahmed Faqhri’s adaptation of the former Government information office featuring among its executive directors Michael Rice and James Belgrave, and Awal Advertising, started by the English cartoonist of the Gulf Mirror, Lewis Moreland. GPR was the fourth member of this distinguished society.
The international agency was McCann Erickson, in effect a one-man office handling placements of international ads for noted consumer products. The late Samir Fares and Edmond Moutran arrived to establish a Gulf base for Intermarkets in Bahrain, with foresight before the civil war outbreak in Beirut. Akram Miknas’s Promoseven also came from Beirut to establish a new headquarters in Bahrain in 1976, going into partnership with the Far East Fortune agency and creating FP7, now probably the biggest agency group. Other agencies which came, not always to stay, included Eclair Kazan, Publi-Graphics, Madco Gulf and a few others.
Strong personalities emerged in this dense agency scene. Akram Miknas, Founder and President of Fortune Promoseven; Bob Hughes who helped to redesign Gulf Public Relations (GPR) as Gulf Advertising & Marketing; Edmond Moutran who left Intermarkets to establish Memac in 1982, while my colleague Abdulnabi Al Sho’ala diversified his business interests before being appointed to the Cabinet of Ministers in 1995. In the same year Gulf Hill and Knowlton emerged out of GPR as a major regional PR network in the Gulf, headed then and now by Nigel Perry.
On the media front, the only major casualty was The Gulf Weekly Mirror, long the repository of full colour pages but crippled by its weekly frequency, which closed its various offices in the Gulf in the early Eighties – but the GDN was there to pick up the pieces and the business.
Originally published iun ArabAd, January 2000