If you were in Dubai in the last part of September, it was another warm, ordinary month.
If you were an SEO person in Dubai in the last part of September, it was an absolute festival.
We had 3 SEO events and I could barely contain my excitement.
Then the following morning, an SEO workshop on Indexation & Crawling hosted by DeepCrawl at the Westin Mina Seyahi and that evening, the Oscars of the industry, the MENA Search Awards at Madinat Jumeirah.
Why is this such a big deal?
It’s because our region is still growing and search marketing, in particular SEO, is still largely misunderstood over here.
So to have dedicated events to SEO and search marketing as a whole is massive.
At a time when our industry (like so many others) is working towards more inclusion, having these events essentially managed and run by women is a big deal for us and the world.
Normally the few events we do have in our part of the world are vaguely related to social media or digital marketing in general and it’s often unorganised with poor quality content and speakers – or worse, just one big sales pitch. But these events were none of that – they were interactive, informative and fun.
I was geeking out all week and had the best time being able to have awesome discussions with veteran SEO folks like Naguib Toihiri (my SEO twin!) and Jon Edward Santillan. I also got to kick it with relative newcomers Rachel Costello and Ruth Everett from DeepCrawl (Ruth presented for the first time and managed to get a lot of people interested in Python!).
And I got to meet the brilliant Bastian Grimm, exchanged bad jokes with the awesome Jennifer Hoffman and I also stood by and watched on with pride as Basma Abou Assaf and Ammar Badr held their own and hosted an excellent SEO event.
I remember when Basma was just starting out a few short years ago and to see her monumental rise in the industry has been nothing short of inspiring. Look out world – she’s our version of Aleyda and she’s coming for your rankings! And our Ammar is leading the charge to get more people to understand SEO in an Arabic context – we have plenty of work still to do!
I want to give a massive shoutout to DeepCrawl for being the fantastic humans they are. After every get together with them, I come away not as a customer or brand ambassador but as a friend. I genuinely feel like I have a human connection with the team and I don’t see them as just another software vendor. Shout out to my man Nabil Dabbagh, Global Head of Customer Success at DeepCrawl who we missed greatly! (see you back here soon!).
The amount of love they’ve given our region is something I hope other vendors can learn from. People think our region is too small or under-developed but we have HUGE brands on our shores with a massive appetite for digital marketing. And yes we still use a lot of old school marketing tactics but we’re also hungry for more. DeepCrawl is here making inroads while others are getting left behind. The team spends a lot of time getting to really know people, their brands, our region-specific challenges and how they can help.
They’re so un-salesy. Like, the last thing they talk about is their software. I’ve spent more time sharing bad SEO puns, life stories and ginger ales with them than I have actually spent on business. This doesn’t mean they had it easy to get the contract though!
In short: be like DeepCrawl – know that your software is amazing but focus on being amazing as a person and everything else will fall into place.
PS. I get absolutely no kickbacks from DeepCrawl! I just love their team and hanging with them every time they’re in town. It does help that their software is pretty decent though…
And lastly about the MENA Search Awards. Wow, I didn’t realise we had so many SEO folks in town. I hope to see more people getting involved next year so we can really show the world that MENA is vast, varied and has enough domain authority to choke a Screaming Frog.
So to my local SEO people – be proud of what you do and where you do it – the world needs to know we’re here and can mix it up with the best.
Here’s to many more SEO and Search Marketing events in Dubai and elsewhere in MENA.
Thanks to everyone who attended the events and made it all possible and worthwhile.
May all your backlinks be followed!