Perla Lichi says she started out by spending about a quarter of her year in the UAE. Ravindranath K / The National
Perla Lichi says she started out by spending about a quarter of her year in the UAE. Ravindranath K / The National

Beware of branding blunders



Company name can mean so much more

It is easy when entering new markets for all those good intentions to be lost in translation

Neil Parmar

A When the founders of the Naked Pizza franchise launched their first international eatery in Dubai about a month ago, they knew it might be a conversational fire-starter. Which is why customers will not be able to find Naked Pizza anywhere in the emirate.

Hint: Look up NKD Pizza instead.

"The first thing we did was change the name out of cultural sensitivity, and many warnings and admonishments," says Robbie Vitrano, one of the company's co-founders.

Ian Ohan, the GCC area developer for the company, says that "while people [in the US] understand [naked] means natural and honest, here, if someone didn't understand the context of it, it could be perceived as offensive".

There is a long list of branding blunders made by companies as they try to push into new markets. Clairol's Mist Stick curling iron got snickers in Germany, where the word "mist" happens to be slang for manure. One of the more famous howlers involves an advertisement that exclaimed: "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation." The translation in China? "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave."

Needless to say, the slogan quickly fizzled.

"Your company image is important, and within the different countries it'll play out differently," says Jarrett Wolf, a Miami lawyer whose firm also consults with individuals trying to introduce brands into the Middle East from the US. "Have the right local partners who understand the local culture."

In the age of Google Translate, preventing a brand from getting lost in translation seems easy enough. But cloning a service-based business is often more difficult because of different cultural expectations.

In 2005, Perla Lichi had aspirations to expand her Florida-based interior design company into the Middle East. She knew the task would not be easy, given that her projects take an average of three years to complete as she focuses on everything from a building's architecture and design to its furnishings and decorative accessories.

Ms Lichi says she started out by spending about a quarter of her year in the UAE "just testing the market" and building excitement about her opulent, palatial "Perla Linchi look". That's when she decided to tweak her approach with clients. "I had to really become familiar with the culture," Ms Lichi says. "[Emiratis] are very spiritual, family-oriented people. They take their time."

Clients in the US, by comparison, "look at me as a professional, and I'm not as personal with them as I'd say I am with the Emiratis, especially the ladies".

Ms Lichi also discovered that completing a project in the emirates required dealing with - and getting approval from - every member of a family, as opposed to a single person back in the US. One villa she designed, for instance, featured nine bedrooms for nine children, and each was allowed to sign off on the room's design. "They all wanted a certain style in their room," she says. "I had to switch from modern to classic to funky."

These days, Ms Lichi spends well over half of her year here and has worked on villas in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah, as well as a 40,000 square foot palace in Umm al Qaiwain. Her first interior design office in the region opened in Dubai in 2008 and her second shop was launched in Abu Dhabi last September.

"It's a big commitment, financially and professionally, to invest all this time and effort in a whole other country," says Ms Lichi. "In my case, it's worked out because my business is based on relationships."

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Znap

Started: 2017

Founder: Uday Rathod

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: FinTech

Funding size: $1m+

Investors: Family, friends

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

SPEC SHEET: APPLE M3 MACBOOK AIR (13")

Processor: Apple M3, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, 2560 x 1664, 224ppi, 500 nits, True Tone, wide colour

Memory: 8/16/24GB

Storage: 256/512GB / 1/2TB

I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599

Profile

Company name: Jaib

Started: January 2018

Co-founders: Fouad Jeryes and Sinan Taifour

Based: Jordan

Sector: FinTech

Total transactions: over $800,000 since January, 2018

Investors in Jaib's mother company Alpha Apps: Aramex and 500 Startups

If you go

Flights

Emirates flies from Dubai to Phnom Penh with a stop in Yangon from Dh3,075, and Etihad flies from Abu Dhabi to Phnom Penh with its partner Bangkok Airlines from Dh2,763. These trips take about nine hours each and both include taxes. From there, a road transfer takes at least four hours; airlines including KC Airlines (www.kcairlines.com) offer quick connecting flights from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville from about $100 (Dh367) return including taxes. Air Asia, Malindo Air and Malaysian Airlines fly direct from Kuala Lumpur to Sihanoukville from $54 each way. Next year, direct flights are due to launch between Bangkok and Sihanoukville, which will cut the journey time by a third.

The stay

Rooms at Alila Villas Koh Russey (www.alilahotels.com/ kohrussey) cost from $385 per night including taxes.

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo

Power: 268hp at 5,600rpm

Torque: 380Nm at 4,800rpm

Transmission: CVT auto

Fuel consumption: 9.5L/100km

On sale: now

Price: from Dh195,000

if you go

The flights

Flydubai flies to Podgorica or nearby Tivat via Sarajevo from Dh2,155 return including taxes. Turkish Airlines flies from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Podgorica via Istanbul; alternatively, fly with Flydubai from Dubai to Belgrade and take a short flight with Montenegro Air to Podgorica. Etihad flies from Abu Dhabi to Podgorica via Belgrade. Flights cost from about Dh3,000 return including taxes. There are buses from Podgorica to Plav. 

The tour

While you can apply for a permit for the route yourself, it’s best to travel with an agency that will arrange it for you. These include Zbulo in Albania (www.zbulo.org) or Zalaz in Montenegro (www.zalaz.me).

 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

The specs: Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Price, base: Dh1,731,672

Engine: 6.5-litre V12

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 770hp @ 8,500rpm

Torque: 720Nm @ 6,750rpm

Fuel economy: 19.6L / 100km

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Team Angel Wolf Beach Blast takes place every Wednesday between 4:30pm and 5:30pm

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Alaan
Started: 2021
Based: Dubai
Founders: Parthi Duraisamy and Karun Kurien
Sector: FinTech
Investment stage: $7 million raised in total — $2.5 million in a seed round and $4.5 million in a pre-series A round

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

What is the FNC?

The Federal National Council is one of five federal authorities established by the UAE constitution. It held its first session on December 2, 1972, a year to the day after Federation.
It has 40 members, eight of whom are women. The members represent the UAE population through each of the emirates. Abu Dhabi and Dubai have eight members each, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah six, and Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain have four.
They bring Emirati issues to the council for debate and put those concerns to ministers summoned for questioning. 
The FNC’s main functions include passing, amending or rejecting federal draft laws, discussing international treaties and agreements, and offering recommendations on general subjects raised during sessions.
Federal draft laws must first pass through the FNC for recommendations when members can amend the laws to suit the needs of citizens. The draft laws are then forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration and approval. 
Since 2006, half of the members have been elected by UAE citizens to serve four-year terms and the other half are appointed by the Ruler’s Courts of the seven emirates.
In the 2015 elections, 78 of the 252 candidates were women. Women also represented 48 per cent of all voters and 67 per cent of the voters were under the age of 40.
 

THE BIO

Born: Mukalla, Yemen, 1979

Education: UAE University, Al Ain

Family: Married with two daughters: Asayel, 7, and Sara, 6

Favourite piece of music: Horse Dance by Naseer Shamma

Favourite book: Science and geology

Favourite place to travel to: Washington DC

Best advice you’ve ever been given: If you have a dream, you have to believe it, then you will see it.

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

Switching sides

Mahika Gaur is the latest Dubai-raised athlete to attain top honours with another country.

Velimir Stjepanovic (Serbia, swimming)
Born in Abu Dhabi and raised in Dubai, he finished sixth in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 200m butterfly final.

Jonny Macdonald (Scotland, rugby union)
Brought up in Abu Dhabi and represented the region in international rugby. When the Arabian Gulf team was broken up into its constituent nations, he opted to play for Scotland instead, and went to the Hong Kong Sevens.

Sophie Shams (England, rugby union)
The daughter of an English mother and Emirati father, Shams excelled at rugby in Dubai, then after attending university in the UK played for England at sevens.

Specs

Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
Max torque: 950Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Battery: 25.7kWh lithium-ion
0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
Top speed: 312km/h
Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
On sale: Q3
Price: From Dh1.2m (estimate)

TEST SQUADS

Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi Hasan, Shafiul Islam, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed.

Australia: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson and Jackson Bird.

SCHEDULE FOR SHOW COURTS

Centre Court - from 4pm (UAE time)
Angelique Kerber (1) v Irina Falconi
Martin Klizan v Novak Djokovic (2)
Alexandr Dolgopolov v Roger Federer (3)

Court One - from 4pm
Milos Raonic (6) v Jan-Lennard Struff
Karolina Pliskova (3) v Evgeniya Rodina
Dominic Thiem (8) v Vasek Pospisil

Court Two - from 2.30pm
Juan Martin Del Potro (29) v Thanasi Kokkinakis
Agnieszka Radwanska (9) v Jelena Jankovic
Jeremy Chardy v Tomas Berdych (11)
Ons Jabeur v Svetlana Kuznetsova (7)