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Infographic: Which Industries Have the Best Content Marketing?

Storytelling has always been part of content marketing’s DNA. Our co-founder delved into its benefits here and here. Our director of strategy philosophized about it here. Our managing editor considered its complications here.

The reason for such emphatic coverage is simple: Great stories leave an emotional resin on readers, imprinting them in a way traditional marketing copy does not. But as our CMO likes to remind us, storytelling alone is not a strategy. Plenty of brands are interested in telling stories, but that doesn’t mean everyone is doing it effectively. According to a study by the marketing intelligence company Beckon, 5 percent of all branded content accounts for 90 percent of total engagement.

Since we’re in the midst of a heated battle for consumer attention, we decided to break down our internal data to see how different industries were performing in 2017 across three key metrics: average attention time, engagement rate, and finish rate.

The data revealed some interesting trends. For instance, B2B brands got high marks for average attention time, getting users to stay with their content for more than three minutes at a clip, but the average finish rate for their content was 13 percent. That discrepancy suggests there’s an opportunity for those companies to re-evaluate the length of their content. Readers are clearly hooked, but maybe the stories are too long for a given topic. Writers and editors have the ability to produce something valuable that stems beyond an intriguing headline or lede.

In the infographic below, check out how three industries—finance, B2B, and tech—compare when it comes to performance metrics. Welcome to the Content Performance Games. How do you match up?

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Why Visibility Is Key for Content Marketing Success

If you’re a senior manager, it can be difficult—okay, impossible—to know what your team is up to on a day-to-day basis. Is Jim actually “just finishing up” that new product announcement? Did Mary really submit the latest draft of her blog post to Fred yesterday? Larry wants to accelerate the new campaign, so what can we push back on the calendar?

Project management software can be a huge help here. Programs like Trello and Asana specialize in keeping projects on-time, but they’re generalist platforms often used by small, independent teams to focus on specific functions, like design or product. In other words, they’re not built for enterprise-level marketing teams.

That’s where content marketing software comes in. According to software research firm Forrester, one of the core functions of content marketing software is bringing “visibility, order, and insight into countless streams of activity.” Visibility, in particular, proved to be the word that was repeated most by the study’s interviewees.

But what exactly does “visibility” mean? And how does content marketing software help solve for it? Let’s dive in.

Collaboration

One of the biggest challenges of working in an office is collaboration. It’s difficult to know who is working on what and when they’re working on it.

Maybe Fred and Joe are supposed to develop a new PR pitch, but neither know what’s been completed so far. Both build out the entire pitch on separate Word documents, unaware that the other is spending much of the day on the same project. The result is misalignment, wasted hours, and confusion.

Content marketing software is built to avoid these common issues. Take our platform: A centralized system of workflows and calendars makes it easy to create collaborative projects that automatically update. Rather than Fred and Joe working on the same project, Joe would have seen that Fred had already begun. From there, he could comment and add his own contributions.

The result is more collaboration and fewer headaches.

Oversight

If marketers mention visibility, that’s likely a tell that they’re in a managerial position. Visibility is a huge value of content marketing platforms because it helps make a manager’s job easier. Nobody wants dozens of projects floating in the ether. Software consolidates everything into one visible platform.

Take the calendar tool, which makes it easy for me to find out what my co-workers are up to and what’s next on the docket.

Here, you can see that Sunil needs to review a new product announcement, while Erin is working on finalizing a case study. All the other projects are done—no need to walk over to someone’s desk and ask if something is complete.

Accountability

Visibility is also a big part of ensuring that marketing stays accountable. You can find out if Fred is actually doing what he said he did. You can see if the idea Fred pitched in that last meeting was actually as effective as he predicted. And you can identify if Fred is the one responsible for production bottlenecks. (If your name is Fred, I apologize).

Internally, we use our command center to monitor all of this data. Once we find out who causes delays, we message them on the spot to address it. Since the command center was launched, we’ve been tracking and steadily trying to improve our ability to hit deadlines.

This is what analysts mean when they talk about visibility: Software that gives you a common environment for planning, production, and analysis. And without it, it’s much harder to succeed.

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How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively Part 3

Consideration 1 – Understand the client

Each business is an entity. Each entity has characteristics. You need to know these characteristics if you’re going to build anything for the company. So, make sure you know the answers to these questions:

  • What’s your company vision? A great vision statement can inspire great things, including an SEO strategy. And why not? If properly developed and executed, the company has already set you up for a better chance of success.
  • What are the company’s core values? Every company can only be so many things to so many people. A well-branded company knows exactly what they are and what they aren’t. Use these core values in your campaign, as they should serve as your campaign perimeter.
  • What is the leadership like? What kind of culture do they cultivate? In smaller companies, the leaders tend to influence the culture. In larger companies, unfortunately, this can get lost. But if you have access to the leadership, spend some time learning about their vision. It should match up to the company’s core values, but sometimes there are more gems locked in their minds.
  • What are the pain points? What things drive the members of this organization to drink? From the customer support to the higher-ups, there are things that knock the company down. How do they get back up? Why are the pains they’re looking to work around? It may not be realistic to interview the whole company, but ideally you can get a representative to answer these.

Let’s pause for a moment.

If you’re at this part of the article, and you’re thinking, “Whoa — why the hell would I do all this to get a few rankings?” then you’re not thinking strategic yet. True, it’s possible these bullets aren’t all relevant to what you’re building, but the bigger your strategy needs to go, the more you need to know your client.

Consideration 2 – Understand the goals

If we’re going to be creating goal-oriented plans, it make sense to start with a smart goal or two. And by smart, I mean SMART. For those who aren’t familiar with SMART goals, it stands for the following:

Specific: This is for the “why” and “how” of your goal. What exactly are you trying to do, and why? If you were a retailer who sells a little of everything, you might have a statement like this:

“At the end of February, we noticed our customers begin researching lawn and patio furniture. Customers are favoring items that look more elegant and can resist weather.”

Measurable: Be very detailed. Are we trying to make money, or are we trying to make five hundred dollars? Are we trying to draw traffic, or are we trying to bring 500 new visits that engage with our website?

A retailer might have a statement like:

“Our goal is to increase organic conversions of the Lawn and Patio section by 15% YOY in Q2 and Q3, with lawn chairs driving 75% of those sales. Target revenue $500,000 in Q2, and $300,000 in Q3.”

Achievable: Make sure you’re grounding your goal in reality. Sure, you can’t control a massive Google update, but using the history of your sales and competitive data, you can make some inferences. You also need to make sure you have agreed-upon goals. Get buy-in before you set the goal in stone, leveraging the thoughts from the leaders, merchandisers, analysts, and anyone who might be able to provide insight into the likelihood of hitting your goal.

Realistic: (There is some blend between realistic and achievable.) Do you have the appropriate resources in place? Does your client have the flexibility to make the necessary changes within the proposed timeline?

A statement to help framing could be:

“We are going to rely on resources including copywriters, researchers, merchandisers, and developers to make on-page changes within the time frame of this plan. We expect to need 40 hours of time from copywriters, 50 hours from web development.”

Time-bound: We will need deadlines for dependencies. Assign due dates to each step of the plan, and keep the players accountable. Make sure you have an appropriate start-to-finish date.

Consideration 3 – Understand the audience

This is critical. If you don’t know what your searchers are looking for, you’re guessing. That’s a bad idea. Especially today, where we have troves of data.

But it’s important to find the stories in-between the numbers. With that said, your audience can’t be measured solely by the 0s and 1s that comes into analytics platforms. I’ve written about this in The Down Side of Analytics in Marketing.

But I’ve recently heard some chatter voicing the polar opposite. I’ve heard the sentiment to wholly ignore certain data points because they don’t represent the real person. To me, that’s bad advice — directional data is better than the romantic notion of success based on your “gut” feel. Estimated search volume, clicks, and even impressions give credence not only to a keyword, but a bigger theme. This starts to create direction and an understanding of need, which leads to your next few rounds of audience recognition.

Using the available data helps a marketer understand which dollars are more effective than others, and how to identify different audience groups within the buying cycle.

With the demographics and site usage details from GA, different types of users (researchers, comparers, buyers, customers) can be grouped and classified, and the marketing dollars and messaging appropriately tailored.

AdWords and Facebook are further vehicles for reaching the appropriate audiences with more refined messaging. I think it’s important to create personas for your current visitors and the type of visitors you want to attract. It might be valuable to create personas of those you don’t want to attract, to keep in the back of your mind as your content and advertising calendar is being built following the delivery of your overall strategy.

Consideration 4 – Understand the competitive landscape

Without knowing the landscape, you really don’t know what opportunity lies ahead. Understanding your competition’s success allows you to learn from their wins (and mistakes). Reinventing the wheel burns unnecessary minutes.

There are a few competitive tools we tend to gravitate towards in our industry. SEMrush is a fantastic tool allowing anyone to look up a website and get an estimated search visibility and traffic share. Drilling in shows how well pages perform independently. Gleaning through exports can quickly reveal what topics are driving traffic, to which you might replicate or improve your own version.

Backlinks can actually serve as a proxy for interest. In Google’s vision of a democratic web, they considered links to function like votes. Google wants editorial votes to influence their algorithm. So, if we assume all links are potentially editorial, then looking up backlink data can illustrate content that’s truly beloved. Grab your favorite backlink data provider (hey — Moz has one!) and pull a report on a competitor’s domain. Take a look at the linked pages, and with a little filtering, you’ll see top linked pages emerge. Dive into those pages and develop some theories on why they’re popular link targets.

Social media — it’s more than cat memes. Generally, non-marketing folks share content that resonates with them. Buzzsumo offers an easy interface for digging through the depths of social media. Have a general topic you’d like to pursue? Enter it into Buzzsumo and see what you get.

Let the creative juices flow. Look for topics you can improve under your own roof. Even the nichiest of niches can have representation in Buzzsumo.

Maybe this feels a bit too scattershot for you. Buzzsumo also allows you to find and observe influencers. What are they sharing? By clicking the “view links shared” button, you’ll get a display of all the unique pages shared. Sometimes “influencers” share all types of varying content crossing many topics. But sometimes, they’re pretty specfic in the themes they share. Look for the latter in this competitive research stage.

Consideration 5 – Understand the roadblocks

Every company has obstacles. Each one has built its own labyrinth. Don’t try to blanket an existing labyrinth with your ill-prepared strategy; instead, work within the existing inroads.

Reality bites. You could draft up an amazing strategy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to which you’re rebuilding an entire category structure of one of the website’s most lucrative lines… only to find out there’s a ticket queue for the necessary resources that’s more than 6 months long. Despite your brilliant idea, you’re going to look bad when the client calls you out on not understanding their business.

The best way to avoid this is proactively asking the right questions. Ask about resource support. Ask about historic roadblocks. Ask to be introduced to other players who otherwise hide behind an email here and there. Ask about the company’s temperature regarding a bigger SEO strategy vs. short, quick-hit campaigns. Don’t be your own biggest obstacle — I’ve never heard of anyone getting angry about over-communication unless it paralyzes progress.

A few final thoughts (from my experience)

It’s time for my Jerry Springer moment.

Not all strategies have to be big. Sometimes your window is small, and you’re forced to build for a distinct — or tiny — opportunity. Maybe you don’t have time for a proper large-scale strategy at all; a tactic or two might be all you can do to carry in a win. Just make that very clear with your boss or client. Don’t misrepresent what you’re trying to build as an SEO campaign.

I understand that some SEO agencies and departments are not built for the big SEO campaigns. Strategic work takes time, and speeding (or scaling) through the development stage will likely do more harm than good. It’s like cramming for a test — you’re going to miss information that’s necessary for a good grade. It would be my pleasure if this post inspired some change in your departments.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that paralysis by over-thinking is a real issue some struggle with. There’s no pill for it (yet). Predicting perfection is a fool’s errand. Get as close as you can within a reasonable timeframe, and prepare for future iteration. If you’re traveling through your plan and determine a soft spot at any time, simply pivot. It’s many hours of upfront work to get your strategy built, but it’s not too hard to tweak as you go.

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How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively Part 1

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

I read The Art of War in college, written by the Chinese general Sun Tzu (author of the quote above). While his actual existence is debated, his work is often considered as brilliant military strategy and philosophy. Thus, The Art of War is often co-opted into business for obvious reasons. Throughout the book, you’ll realize tactics and strategy are not interchangeable terms.

– A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.
– A plan of action or policy designed to achieve an overall aim.
– The art and science of planning and marshaling resources for their most efficient and effective use.
Source

These definitions vary slightly, but the essence is the same. A strategy is not constrained by size or application but promoted by planning and effectiveness. Let’s be honest, the word “strategy” is a term that isn’t always used the same way in the English lexicon (or our industry).

On the other hand, tactics can be isolated or serve as components in your strategy. They are actions you would impart as a step in the plan, or used as a stand-alone, typically with limited resources.

For some this is straightforward, but for others new to marketing or traditionally focused on tactical work, a strategy can be a difficult concept that requires practice. Perhaps understanding the purpose is key to dividing these terms. Let’s try this:

“The purpose of a strategy is to identify goals and build a plan of attack towards achieving those goals. The purpose of tactics are for smaller goals that could feed something bigger.”

Before you read on, please note: this is not an article devaluing tactics over strategy (despite the Sun Tzu quote). My goal is to inspire thought that can help you be more effective as a modern SEO, and possibly consider a strategy where you haven’t before.

 

 

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How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively Part 2

A military analogy

I find analogies go a long way in describing lofty concepts. I could easily go with a football or legal example, but a military example might be the most comparable to what we do in marketing. And because I know my audience, I decided to go with Star Wars.

The Galactic Empire thought they could take over the galaxy with fear and brute force. They developed plans for a space station with firepower strong enough to destroy a planet. Under the command of Governor Tarkin, the Death Star was created. They tested the completed Death Star on Princess Leia’s home planet of Alderaan, which gave Obi Wan Kenobi shivers.

However, the Rebels put together a counter-strategy. Piecing together intelligence about a deliberate design flaw, and developing a plan featuring waves of small battalions, the Rebel ships would take passes at the target. They would work together in designed waves to equally defend and attack during this campaign.

As basic as that scene was at the end of Star Wars, it’s a strategy nonetheless (albeit a small one).

Confusion of strategies versus tactics — a real-world example

To make this a bit more relevant to SEO, here’s an email shared with me by a prospective client. They were looking for a new agency after they received this from their current agency:

I object to several things written here. Guest posting is a tactic, not a strategy. There is no plan here, just an action. A measurable or attainable goal is never made clear.

We need to do better. *desk flip*

Selling the SEO strategy

Whether you’re an agency, consultant, or in-house at a company, getting buy-in for an SEO strategy can be challenging. SEOs tend to rely on the support of several different departments (e.g. developers, copywriters, business managers, etc.), usually with their own predetermined goals. Enter the SEO to add more complexity.

There’s often a top-down marketing strategy already baked before you get to pitch your SEO work, to which you may find opportunity on a battlefield where access is not granted. It’s reckless to assume you can go into any established company and lob a strategy onto their laps, expecting them to follow it with disregard to their existing plans, politics, and red tape. Candidly, this may be the quickest way to get fired and show you’re not aligned with the existing business goals.

Instead, you need to find your areas of opportunity that work with the company’s business goals, not against them. Effective marketers don’t try to be a square peg in a round hole. Get to know the players, the existing playbooks, the silos, and the available gaps.

It’s not about being a yes-man; it’s about best playing the hand you’re dealt. You simply can’t successfully sell a strategy until you know where your strategy will fit and support the current business goals.

Before you begin mapping out the strategy

If I’ve done my job, you’re eager to put pen to paper, but you still have digging to do. Get your shovel.

Some people are better suited to design plans in a non-linear fashion. If I’m writing anything, be it an article or a piece of music, I’m bouncing back and forth throughout the piece as inspiration strikes. But for others who are more straight-minded and less frenetic, a reference of considerations and characteristics might be helpful.

Enter the mind map. Simply stated, a mind map is a visual representation of concepts and connections. As defined here, it is a visual thinking tool that helps to structure information, helping you to better analyze, comprehend, synthesize, recall, and generate new ideas.

It’s your sketch pad. Jot down all the ideas, concepts, and relationships you can possibly think of.

Think of this document as a living communication between you and your client or boss. It is a document you should refer to often. It keeps all parties on the same page and aligned. I recommend sharing it in a collaborative platform so updates are shared between all viewers without having to constantly send out new copies (nothing sucks the life out of efficiency faster than “versioning” issues).

There’s no shortage of things to consider in your mind map. Here are a few common items from my experience:

  • Timeline details
  • Details about the industry or different channels
  • Other marketing learnings
  • Customer/visitor details
    • Demographics and psychographics
    • Details about the customer journey
  • Competitive details
  • Product demand details
  • Current search visibility

My fellow marketers, this is not an exhaustive list by any means. Gather all the information that is meaningful to you.

Drafting the strategy

At this stage, your initial gathering is complete, so now you’re on to development. Hopefully you’ve had some visibility and buy-in by your clients or boss to date, so it’s crucial to keep that momentum going. Don’t build a strategy in a silo.

Remember, a strategy is a plan. A plan has steps, dependencies, and future considerations throughout. I think it’s very important for your team and the client to “see” the strategy in a visual format, and not just conceptually. Use a spreadsheet, slides, or Word document — whichever tickles your fancy. At Greenlane, we’ve been using Google Sheets:

If you work in an agile framework, the strategy is going to change. Everyone should be able to see revisions to the strategy with an indication of what’s been changed and why. That’s a benefit to documenting every important detail.

Earlier you put together a mind map to put preliminary ideas on the table. You considered things that you’ll now need to thoroughly scrutinize. Here is a list of considerations to hold your SEO strategy against. Make sure your final draft of the SEO strategy can clearly speak to each of these.

And since we’re on a Star Wars kick already, I present my dusty childhood toys (recently found in my mother’s basement).

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Why Entrepreneurs Don’t Need Business Experience to Start Their Own Company

On this episode, Entrepreneur Network partner Business Rockstars spotlights designer Shaun Neff, who talks about the power of branding, what he has learned from starting his own business and the most rewarding aspects of becoming an entrepreneur. Plus, he explains why it helped him to have no previous working experience and why being naive can be a good thing.

Watch the video to learn more.

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7 Lessons for Young Entrepreneurs from a NASCAR Solopreneur

Julia Landauer knew she wanted to pursue racing as a career by the time she was 12. At that time, she and her parents started organizing her life around her dream. Landauer began working hard on and off the track, trying to land small sponsorships and grow brand awareness. Since that time she has become a NASCAR Next and NASCAR K&N Pro Series driver. At 24 years old, she has made a name for herself in a male-dominated sport, and done it all on her own, from handling her own publicity to personally pounding the pavement for sponsors — landing herself on the One Love Foundation/GCR  team. She has also become a sought-after speaker and an advocate for women in STEM.

As entrepreneurship grows in popularity, and the internet continues to provide new opportunities, more and more tweens and teens are following their entrepreneurial passions. Here are a few lessons for those hustlers and their families from the successful speaker, spokesperson, athlete and driver.

Be present.

Pursuing a dream and building a business, while still in school, requires a lot of energy and focus. Landauer missed around 130 days of high school for racing. She missed not only homework but also the big games, pep rallies and birthday parties as well. The way to juggle it all well, she says, is to be fully present where you are when you’re there.

“When I was at school, I really dedicated myself to being in school. I try to be very present where I am, and I knew I wasn’t gonna be able to hang out with [friends] on the weekends,” she shared. “So when I was there, I really tried to make sure I was giving my friends the attention.”

Tailor your education.

There is an entire discussion about the state of the four-year college education in the United States that we won’t dive into here, but you can see why someone building a racing career may decide to skip university altogether. Landauer wanted her degree, though, so she decided to tailor her major for her specific needs. She blended computer science, mechanical engineering, communications, history and English. She wanted to “get a well-rounded education to be able to help, primarily with my racing career and brand.” At 18, having been in racing for eight years, she knew what was expected. She wanted some technical knowledge about the machinery, but she also needed to excel at communicating on camera, writing sponsorship proposals, making presentations and selling herself.

“When you’re hungry for something, you figure out what you need to do to make it work,” she explained.

Figure out the training you need to set yourself up for success, outside of your specific talents. This could mean honing your writing skills, learning basic coding, public speaking, etc. A few of my guests on The Pursuit say focus only on your strengths, but I have found that the reality for most is this: You won’t be able to outsource all of your weaknesses for years. Build your strengths in the most important brand-building areas where you need improvement.

Tell your authentic story.

Learn from one of Landauer’s mistakes. During college she had the opportunity to be a contestant on Survivor, but she did not get much exposure because she was “bland.”

“It was a good branding lesson for me. I chose not to tell people I went to Stanford, but I was a sophomore in college, so my whole world I was concealing, and I just realized I didn’t have as much to talk about.”

From then on, she realized she had to own who she is and accept that she will not appeal to everyone. She advises people to work on conveying their personality and telling their story in a way that will benefit other people.

 

Find mentors.

Landauer has made a few really smart moves. For example, she met someone who worked in investing and asked the person to look over her pitch deck, simply for the critique.

“That kind of help was really great, and that’s a blessing and a gift,” she said, “Just practicing stuff when people say no, I had no shame in asking them, ‘Okay, what was not attractive to you? What didn’t work?'”

It takes guts to ask for that kind of honest feedback.

She is also not afraid to reach out to her mentors for guidance and support. These mentors include past teachers, her parents, industry acquaintances and Lyn St. James, who formed the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Capitalize on what makes you different.

Obviously, performance is the main driver (pun intended) of exposure and sponsorship. However, Landauer realized early on that she can use her disadvantages to appeal to certain sponsors.

“Danica [Patrick] is a really good example; she hasn’t won a race yet, but she’s one of the highest earning NASCAR drivers and she brings in a ton of money to the sport. So, it really depends whatever value the company is looking for.”

Related: 5 Lessons You Learn From Your Business Mistakes

She explained that finding those ideal sponsors takes a lot of research and clear communication with potential brands. She said she has to ask, What do you need? What problems are you trying to solve? And is there a way that me and my platform and NASCAR can be beneficial to that?

Which leads to my next point . . .

Realize it’s not about you.

Young entrepreneurs — and even seasoned entrepreneurs who are working on a brand new project or business — are overflowing with passion. Sometimes that passion leads to the belief that everyone else will also be excited, and ready to get out their checkbooks. Realize again that results are what matter. What value do you provide? Remind yourself that the market is the market and, frankly, it doesn’t care about your passion.

Landauer explained, “[One important lesson] is that you have to assume that no one’s gonna be supporting you and no one’s gonna be in your favor. Assume that your agenda does not align with other people’s agenda . . . . You have to be your harshest critic. Hopefully you have a group around you, whether it’s family or friends, or partners who will help you. But, I found that, I would assume that people would have wanted to help me and they didn’t,” she added. “Don’t let other people’s lack of creativity and lack of vision get in your way.”

Which leads to my last lesson from Landauer:

Believe in yourself.

Breaking into Nascar, especially as a young female from New York, is no easy task. To her fellow underdogs out there, Landauer says you must find a way to stay confident and believe in yourself.

“I know that sounds kind of silly and cliche and everything, but if you don’t have confidence, why would anyone else want to help you if they were interested? So if you have a journal to write, if you need to look in a mirror and pump yourself up, do that.”

Personally, in moments self-doubt, Landauer writes out “the facts” about her career and her accomplishments to remind herself she’s doing well. I love this approach and use it myself. Take out the emotion and instead write out your highlight reel as you would about a stranger.

Support Landauer’s NASCAR journey by following her story on Facebook and Instagram.

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Tech Education Startup Synkers Is Using Adaptive Learning

 

Launched in September 2016, Synkers is a platform connecting students with qualified private tutors. Parents and high school and university students can search and book qualified tutors based on preferences of prices, rating and location, while tutors can access a network of prospective students and manage bookings online. Utilizing the on-demand economy, the Lebanon-based startup provides tutoring services across an array of courses as well as standardized tests (SAT, TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, etc).

From having launched with one university, to their current 11 network of universities, in this episode of #EntMETalks, CEO and co-founder Audrey Nakad discusses how the platform has grown and where it wants to head next, how it utilizes adaptive learning for teaching and learning approaches, as well as handling the hurdles of building a tech startup in Lebanon. On the startup’s USP, Nakad says, “We’re not only connecting students and tutors, but we’re also investing on our top tutors.”

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How Two Entrepreneurs Built a Major Business Through Minimalism

What do you actually need, and what do you just want because it’s exciting?

Public speakers, authors, podcasters and co-founders of the Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus started their business by asking themselves what they really needed out of their day-to-day life. The answer they came up with shouldn’t surprise anyone: They needed time.

When Entrepreneur Network partner Emily Richett sat down with Millburn and Nicodemus, Millburn said, “For me, ‘busy’ has become the most vulgar word there is. It’s the worst four-letter word.” Then, the two entrepreneurs explain how they have branched out into several different areas of business — from making documentaries to writing books — without spreading themselves too thin.

Watch the video to learn how they did it.

 

 

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How One Entrepreneur Worked with More Than 300 Influencers Last Year

If you are a brand trying to work with influencers, or an influencer trying to sign with a brand, experiential expert Claudine DeSola shared her advice with Jessica Abo.

nside Caravan Stylist Studio, you will find Claudine DeSola working with brands and influencers. DeSola helps creatives like actresses, musicians, bloggers, editors and others get ready for red carpets, TV appearances, photo shoots and other major events, and introduces them to different products and fashion designers. Her New York studio is open to creatives who want to come in and have a “me” day or have an event, date night, style shoot or birthday celebration. Entrepreneur Network partner Jessica Abo sat down with DeSola to learn how she brings brands and influencers together.

Q: Claudine, tell us about Caravan Stylist Studio and how you are creating authentic interactions between influencers and brands.

DeSola: We have our gallery space that includes glam stations, a full-time ambassador for brands, an art showcase and a lounge. Programming happens inside the studio and then we recap everything on our website and through social media. There is more consumption of a brand or service after someone attends an activation and experiences that brand firsthand. Our hope is that after guests visit the studio and learn about a brand, they feel 100 percent more like they understand that brand, and share information via word of mouth to friends and families. At least 70 percent of consumers share something about the brands they have used via social chatter, which creates authentic relationships.

Q: You work with everything from OGX and LifewayKefir to cast members of Orange is the New Black and The Americans. What makes Caravan unique?

Our business revolves around these tenants: Visit. Learn. Sample. Influencers get to experience their next favorite product or service. At Caravan, we try to create that place, guests come and can relax, and while they are there they can hear about new products they might find useful. We are a marketing tool, so our goal is to talk about our brand sponsors. However, we umbrella that with just being like your girlfriends sharing other fun information with you from our favorite new art shows to our favorite new band — we make sure to only have the best playlists. As far as I know, there is no other full-time experiential hub in New York that is curating this type of influencer marketing as a program. We exist throughout the year so we have repeat influencers and we are constantly trying to meet new guests as well. We offer services every day, but we sprinkle that with events we feel will be of interest to our guests and our brands. With everything happening online it is important to have something that happens in an actual physical space where our brand partner ambassador can interact with our guests and tell them about products and services, benefits and how to use them. Our influencers often tell us our human touch in an online world is refreshing.

Q: There are so many brands working on influencer marketing, but they are typically short and expensive campaigns. How do you set yourself up for success?

We get a mix of creatives that come through and it ranges from those with millions of followers to those that might have a few thousand. The way we create our invite lists is by looking at content creation or projects they are working on. We have worked with actresses when they got their first role and had 2,000 followers because we believed in them and now some of those same actresses may have 1.5 million followers. We try to really get to know our guests and we love meeting actresses from new television shows to a new author to a cool blogger from Bushwick. They are entrepreneurs too, and it is all about supporting other entrepreneurs.

Q: What mistake do people make when it comes to influencer marketing?

I often see an influencer post a pretty photo with a bunch of products and tag the brands in the picture. To me that is not interesting. It would be so much better if the picture told a story about the person using those products. I am also seeing a bit of mismanagement when it comes to influencer marketing. I think brands need to be more careful. I see influencers talking about one hair brand one week and another one the next and being paid by both. I think brands need to seek out new influencers as well as working with the well known ones.

Q: What three pieces of advice do you have for brands?

1. Take your online, offline and back to human interaction.

2. Focus on bigger programs and strategies, such as what we offer at Caravan. Paying one person to post one time can produce beautiful content, but creating an ongoing program allows for continuous content and authentic interactions.

3. Be different. I love content producers and I too have some of my favorites, but there are tons of creatives that could create programs with brands that are unique.

Q: What is the number one tip you have for influencers?

Test products and learn if you like them before you agree to doing a campaign, so that you stay authentic.

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The TRA Has Released A Statement On Whatsapp Calling

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has released a statement regarding the unblocking of WhatsApp called in the UAE.

Users discovered the calling feature has become available on the popular communications application, and were tentative about how long the feature would be available in the UAE.

And it’s still unclear.

The TRA has blocked the feature previously for its failure to adhere to UAE’s telecoms laws

And remains the same rules.

The TRA statement says: “There is no change in the UAE’s Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Policy. TRA reconfirms that any applications or services of this type must comply with the applicable regulatory framework in the country.”

So it may be a short-lived enjoyment for residents.

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The Eid Fireworks Display At This Dubai Spot Are Set To Be Absolutely Spectacular

Dubai Festival City Bay, part of the large residential, business and entertainment development in Dubai Festival City is set to host one of the biggest Eid fireworks displays this year.

The show is taking place on the second night of Eid Al Fitr, starting at 11pm.

Arrive early to secure a comfortable spot for the exclusive musical fireworks display that’s going to combine pattern, colour and sound to create one incredible show.

Plan your journey to and from the event in advance and expect traffic delays.

The area is popular for large scale shows and performances

What are the details?

The fireworks will take place over Dubai Festival City Bay on the second night of Eid Al Fitr (date TBC)

Call +97142085261 for more info

The show starts at 11pm according to the Facebook page

Marina-mess

Dubai Marina Waters turn Orange! WTF!

It looks like something has leaked in the Dubai Marina, with a huge amount of orange muck filling the marina waters this afternoon, with many residents sharing images of the spill or leak.

It’s unclear what has caused the mess, which was spotted around 5pm on Thursday afternoon.

It has proceeded to drift down the Marina and is yet to be identified by authorities.

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There’s A New Snapchat Update And UAE Residents Are Being Warned

The TRA has issued a warning to residents about the new Snapchat features being added to the app, which show people’s locations and updates.

The feature, called the Snap Map, reveals users’ locations on the map to the public.

The TRA has released a statement warning residents to switch the locations off to retain privacy.

The statement said:

“The risks of automatically providing a map of the users’ location without their knowledge “may lead to unaccounted consequences and breaches that harm the privacy of individuals as well as other negative consequences of automatic detection of users’ locations at the time of using the application.”

“To avoid this, you need to make a simple change to your app settings, which people may overlook. A user who wants to be protected should modify the App setting by clicking the ‘Next’ button on the screen, then clicking on the ghost mode ‘me only’, and then clicking ‘Next’. This way, any circulated Snap will not show the user’s location on the interactive map.”

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A shopper’s guide to Dubai

Dubai loves to shop. The city has just about perfected the art of the mall, which is the de facto air-conditioned ‘town commons’, the place to go with the family, hang out with friends and take in some entertainment. So what kind of goods should you look for? We’ve got the lowdown.

But before we go shopping, just a quick note. When people talk about Dubai being tax-free, they’re referring to personal income tax on wages. There are, however, import duties. If you’re shopping for mid- and low-cost goods, depending on your home currency, you may not see much difference. But you will notice the difference on luxury goods. If you’re in the market for, say, a new Rolex, you’ll save a bundle in Dubai. Otherwise don’t be lulled by the tax-free promise!

Carpets

Dubai is a carpet lover’s paradise. Fine Persian carpets, colourful Turkish and Kurdish kilims, and rough-knotted Bedouin rugs are all widely available. Dubai has a reputation in the region for having the highest-quality carpets at the best prices. Bargaining is the norm.

A rug’s quality depends entirely on how the wool was processed. It doesn’t matter if the rug was hand-knotted if the wool is lousy. The best comes from sheep at high altitudes, which produce impenetrably thick, long-staple fleece, heavy with lanolin. No acids should ever be applied; otherwise the lanolin washes away. Lanolin yields naturally stain-resistant, lustrous fibre that doesn’t shed. The dye should be vegetal-based pigment. This guarantees saturated, rich colour tones with a depth and vibrancy unattainable with chemicals. The dyed wool is hand-spun into thread, which by nature has occasional lumps and challenges the craftsmanship of the weavers, forcing them to compensate for the lumps by occasionally changing the shape, size or position of a knot. These subtle variations in a finished carpet’s pattern – visible only upon close inspection – give the carpet its character, and actually make the rug more valuable.

Dealers will hype knot density, weave quality and country of origin, but really, they don’t matter. The crucial thing to find out is how the wool was treated. A rug made with acid-treated wool will never look as good as it did the day you bought it. Conversely, a properly made rug will grow more lustrous in colour over time and will last centuries. Here’s a quick test. Stand atop the rug with rubber-soled shoes and do the twist. Grind the fibres underfoot. If they shed, it’s lousy wool. You can also spill water onto the rug. See how fast it absorbs. Ideally it should puddle for an instant, indicating a high presence of lanolin. Best of all, red wine will not stain lanolin-rich wool. Look through books before you leave home to get a sense of what you like. Once in the stores, plan to linger long with dealers, slowly sipping tea while they unfurl dozens of carpets. The process is great fun. Just don’t get too enthusiastic or the dealer won’t as readily bargain.

Gold

Assuming you don’t buy at its peak, you’ll feel smug once it’s valued back home.

Khanjars

Visit the Al-Ain camel market or the bullfights at Fujairah and you’ll see old Emirati men wearing khanjars (traditional curved daggers) over their dishdashas (men’s shirt-dresses). Traditionally, khanjar handles were made from rhino horn; today, they are often made of wood. Regular khanjars have two rings where the belt is attached, and their scabbards are decorated with thin silver wire. The intricacy of the wire-thread pattern and its workmanship determine value.

Sayidi khanjars have five rings and are often covered entirely in silver sheet, with little or no wire, and their quality is assessed by weight and craftsmanship. A khanjar ought to feel heavy when you pick it up. Don’t believe anyone who tells you a specific khanjar is ‘very old’ – few will be more than 30 to 40 years old.

Perfume

No tax means French brands are cheaper than in Paris, but check the packaging to make sure they’re authentic. With Arabian attars (perfumes) you can be confident no other woman in the room will be wearing the same scent. Shopping for perfume can wear out your sense of smell. If you’re in the market for Arabian scents, do what top perfumiers do to neutralise their olfactory palate: close your mouth and make three forceful exhalations through your nose. Blast the air hard, in short bursts, using your diaphragm.

Pashminas

Fakes are found all over the world, but in Dubai you’ll find bargains on real, silky-soft 100% pashmina shawls.Women around the world adore pashminas, those feather-light cashmere shawls worn by the Middle East’s best-dressed ladies. If you’re shopping for a girlfriend or your mother, you can never go wrong with a pashmina. They come in hundreds of colours and styles, some beaded and embroidered, others with pompom edging – you’ll have no trouble finding one you like.

But aside from setting it alight to make sure it doesn’t melt (as polyester does), how can you be sure it’s real? Here’s the trick. Hold the fabric at its corner. Loop your index finger around it and squeeze hard. Now pull the fabric through. If it’s polyester, it won’t budge. If it’s cashmere, it’ll pull through – though the friction may give you a mild case of rope burn. Try it at home with a thin piece of polyester before you hit the shops; then try it with cashmere. You’ll never be fooled again.

Bateel dates

The de rigeur gift for any proper gourmet, Bateel dates are the ultimate luxury food of Arabia. At first glance, Bateel looks like a jewellery store, with polished-glass display cases and halogen pin spots illuminating the goods. A closer look reveals perfectly aligned pyramids of dates – thousands of them. Bateel plays to its audience with gorgeous packaging that might leave the recipient of your gift expecting gold or silver within: the fancy boxes of lacquered hardwood are worth far more than their contents. Alas, they’re manufactured in China, but not the dates. These come from Saudi Arabia, which has the ideal growing conditions: sandy, alkaline soil and extreme heat. Quality control is tight: Bateel has its own farms and production equipment. The dates sold here are big and fat, with gooey-moist centers.

Because they have a 70% sugar content, dates technically have unlimited shelf life, but you’ll find they taste best around the autumn harvest. If agwa dates are available during your visit, buy them – you may not have another opportunity. Agwa trees only yield every few years, so they’re considered a delicacy. Look for them in September; other varieties arrive in November.

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Emirates Is Preparing For Some Massively Busy Days Starting This Wednesday

Emirates Airlines and Dubai International Airport are bracing for a hugely busy few days starting on Wednesday, with the Eid Al Fitr break combined with the end of school year.

Emirates has issued a statement requesting passengers arrive three hours prior to their flight departure to allow enough time to pass through systems.

More than 106,000 passengers are expected to pass through Terminal 3 alone during the Eid period, with 37,000 expected on Friday, June 23.

What to do about it

Emirates has requested travellers arrive three hours prior to flights, and check-in desks will be open six hours prior to departures.

Emirates issued a statement advising passengers of additional measures:

Customers can also check in online on both their desktops and mobile devices from 48 hours to 90 minutes before flight departure.

In addition to these online check-in services, Emirates also offers check-in facilities near its car park area equipped with 16 check-in counters. Customers can use these to check in and drop off their luggage from 24 hours to six hours prior to departure.

Along with checked in baggage, passengers are strongly advised to adhere to carry-on baggage weight limits, which are 7kg for Economy Class and 14kg for Business and First Class.  Staff will be checking the weight of carry-on bags at various touch points before passengers board their flights.

Alternatively, customers heading to Emirates Terminal 3 can choose to drop their luggage at one of the 46 dedicated bag drop counters in Economy Class or separate counters in First Class and Business Class from six hours to 90 minutes prior to departure.

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Indie shopping in Dubai

Dubai may be home to the biggest mall in the world and consumerism might possibly be in the city’s very DNA, but there are alternatives to chain store shopping for luxury labels. The city has a growing independent shopping scene, hidden in detached villas or smaller community malls, that will ensure you go home with something more exciting than the ubiquitous Gucci, Prada or Chanel items.

These independent boutiques, which have sprung up over the last decade, are owned by both expats and Emiratis who are keen to bring smaller designer labels to the city or to launch local talent. If you want to discover Dubai’s more creative side, here are the stand outs:

For vintage: Bambah and The Zoo

Taking the ‘his-and-hers’ concept literally, Bambah and The Zoo are two separate stores in one chic villa opposite the rather sad Dubai Zoo. Bambah is a beautifully decorated vintage clothing store, with women’s clothes and accessories helpfully grouped by decade and artfully arranged on the owner’s grandmother’s furniture. The Zoo is home to funky men’s T-shirts, quirky gadgets and nostalgic memorabilia like retro telephones.

For furniture: O Concept

A crazy pop art/industrial warehouse full of furniture, accessories and the odd rack of clothes, O Concept is the brainchild of Emirati-owner Omar Bin Khediya. Luxury just got that little bit weirder here with Ferrari-branded neo-classical chairs next to kitsch pop art and futuristic-looking furniture. It is not cheap, but if you are looking for a statement piece, this is the right place.

For fashionistas: S*uce

S*uce, which has blazed the trail for local designers and stocks hard-to-find, of-the-moment global names, is the mother of all independent boutiques. Although its main store is now in the Dubai Mall, the original is still in the smaller Village Mall in the Jumeirah area. Find the latest neon handbags from Fyunka, eye-popping bracelets and achingly hip dresses from Zahan Ghandour, as well as limited collections from up-and-coming UAE talents like Dima Amad. These designers live, breathe and work the latest looks, so you had better keep an eye on your credit card in here.

For homewares: O De Rose

A one-stop-shop for interiors, home accessories and some fashion too, O De Rose is the place to head for an upmarket ethnic feel. All of its pieces have a free-spirited sense of style, from Moroccan glass tea cups to bold African patterned cushions, while Arabic calligraphy-inspired canvases hang next to colourful depictions of Indian deities. Also housed in a villa, O De Rose takes advantage of the homely set up: feel free to sit for a while in the rose-scented garden with its cooling fountain.

For presents: Antiques Museum

Do not believe either word in the title, this dusty warehouse (Al Quoz, behind Times Square Mall; 971-4-347-9935) in the industrial Al Quoz area is not a museum, nor does it sell antiques. It is, however, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of Arabic trinkets, from glass mosaic hanging candle holders, to tagine dishes and carved wooden furniture. You can lose hours in the massive warehouse where everything is piled high in narrow corridors, but keep browsing and the staff will bring you cups of tea and water to keep you going.

For art: Pro Art gallery

Pretty much the only gallery in the UAE to regularly show street art, the small, unpretentious Pro Art gallery is the place to pick up a print of some of the finest handlers of spray paint, like Banksy, Blek le Rat or Shepard Fairey. Keep an eye on the website for future exhibitions; 2012 has already played host to a ‘Street Art Legends’ retrospective and currently there is a focus on modern Indian art.

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Top 10 ways to experience Dubai on a budget

With five-star hotels dominating the skyline and shopping driving the headlines, Dubai is a playground for the rich and famous. However, a sprinkling of local knowledge opens up plenty of budget-friendly experiences. Many of them can be found on either side of the Creek, in Bur Dubai and Deira, where the original small trading port of Dubai began. Want free drinks, almost-free boat rides and the best views right across town? Here’s how.

Gourmet grub for next to nothing

Dubai’s melting pot culture means every cuisine in the world is represented here, with budget versions – if you know where to look. Ravi in Al Satwa is a local legend, which serves huge bowls of Pakistani curry and tea-tray size naan breads for between Dhs30-40. For traditional Levant street food, like the shawarma (chicken wrap with tahini), head to Zaroob (www.zaroob.com) or Zaatar Z Weit (www.zaatarwzeit.net) for budget belly-busters.

The Metro, a cheap alternative to getting around Dubai. Image by Fabio Achilli / CC BY 2.0

Forget taxis and plump for the Metro instead. Dubai’s two-line driverless trains offer some of the cheapest public transport trips in the world. Buy a Nol card and top it up (www.nol.ae), from Dhs1.8 for a short hop to Dhs5.8 for a longer trip (it’s shut Friday morning and after midnight). You can even go VIP and travel Gold Class, which has free Wi-fi. This is Dubai after all.

On your bike

Dubai’s recently invested in a couple of rental bike schemes. Either on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Boulevard (which encircles Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall) or along the Dubai Marina promenade, you can rent sturdy bikes from Dhs15 for 30 minutes (www.bykystations.com). In the last few years Dubai’s become increasingly pedestrian-friendly with cafes, restaurants and so on popping up along what would previously have been barren streets. Take in some of the city’s best views from the saddle, from the neon lights of Dubai Marina at night, to the neck-aching sight of Burj Khalifa.

Drinks are on Dubai

Dubai’s infamous expensive bars do throw a thirsty traveller a bone or two in the shape of weekly ladies’ or gents’ nights, where a selection of drinks are free. Almost every bar in the city will have a ladies’ night (often a Tuesday or Wednesday); gents’ nights are a little rarer but they do exist. For a view over the Dubai Marina and the beach, try Maya at Le Royal Meridien on a Sunday or for a busy girlie night out, there’s perennial downtown favourite Left Bank on Wednesdays.

Old-fashioned retail therapy

Spice shopping in the traditional souks, Dubai. Image by Elroy Serrao / CC BY-SA 2.0

Dubai Mall might be the biggest in the world, but it’s pretty pricey. Head to the Creek to shop like it was 100 years ago in the traditional souks. Buy gold, frankincense, or spices such as saffron and cinnamon on the Deira side, while over on the Bur Dubai bank, snap up pashminas and Arabian style slippers. Remember to haggle hard for a bargain. Take an abra (a small Arabic boat) to get across the Creek for Dhs1.

See inside a mosque

Step inside Jumeirah Mosque, Dubai’s largest, for a free tour. Image by Paul Hart / CC BY 2.0

Jumeirah Mosque is the city’s largest mosque. Daily tours (except Fridays) take place at 10am for free, run by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. The tours run for 75 minutes and visitors are encouraged to ask any questions they might have about Islam and Emirati culture. There are some lovely cafes nearby. Modest dress (ie covering knees and shoulders) is required inside the mosque.

Life’s a beach

Jumeirah Beach is full of amenities for families, but won’t leave your wallet empty. Image by David Jones / CC BY 2.0

Dubai has over 40km of golden sand coastline but much of it has been land-grabbed by five-star hotels that charge an expensive daily rate for access. Jumeirah Beach Park is a family-style, life-guarded public park with a beach that has sunloungers, umbrellas and roving ice cream sellers, as well as shady, grassy areas, photogenic palm trees and a small fast food café. It costs Dhs5 per person for entry.

Enjoy a spot of park life

You could be forgiven for thinking that Dubai is all skyscrapers and six lane highways. Hidden away opposite Business Bay is Al Safa Park, built at a time when two-storey villas were all that could be seen from here. This landscaped park is home to plenty of free barbeque pits, families with their entire kitchen decamp here every weekend. It costs Dhs3 to enter and is also home to a weekly flea market and its own community centre-café, The Archive (facebook.com/TheArchiveDubai), that promotes Middle Eastern culture.

Get a dose of contemporary culture

The Dubai International Finance Centre’s galleries have free monthly art nights. Image by Nabil Abbas / CC BY-SA 2.0

Yes, there’s more to Dubai than shopping! The city is a hub for Middle Eastern artists working over a number of disciplines. For edgier galleries, head to Al Serkal Avenue in Al Quoz (www.alserkalavenue.ae), a cul de sac of creativity in an industrial neighbourhood. For more classic exhibitions, Dubai International Finance Centre’s (DIFC) clutch of galleries have free monthly art nights, where the city’s hipsters mingle (www.difc.ae/art-nights-gate-village).

Get a free history lesson at Dubai Museum

Explore the Dubai Museum in Al Fahadi Fort, the oldest building in Dubai, for free. Image by Fabio Achilli / CC BY 2.0

Life in Dubai was wildly different 50 years ago. The city has grown from a small pearl diving and trading community based around the Creek to what you see today in only just over 40 years. Discover what Dubai was like for the Bedouins and Emiratis at the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort for free. It won’t win any awards for modernity but it’s an interesting portrayal of a way of life that’s changed beyond recognition.

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Top tips for travelling during Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarak! The Islamic holy month of Ramadan runs from the end of June to the end of July this year – and if you’re planning on travelling to a Muslim-majority region during this time, you’re in for an utterly fascinating experience. In many places, including the UAE, Morocco, Tunisia, Indonesia and Egypt, daily life changes dramatically this month, giving visitors a chance to see a whole new side to these regions.

1. Know the basics

Ramadan is a lunar month dedicated to sawm, or fasting, one of the five pillars of Islam. From sun-up to sun-down, the faithful abstain from food, drink, tobacco and sex to concentrate on spiritual renewal. After sunset, there’s a euphoric iftar (sunset meal that breaks the fast), followed by a very late-night suhoor (the pre-dawn meal). Yet Ramadan isn’t all daytime discipline and nightly parties: it’s a time of generosity and zakat, or charity, another of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting isn’t easy, so everyone slows down during the day – but you’ll also notice people going out of their way to extend small kindnesses.

2. Plan ahead

Like any holiday, Ramadan affects business as usual and this definitely isn’t the best time to attempt a whistle-stop sightseeing marathon. Many venues operate with limited hours and staff, so try to book accommodation, transport and tours before you arrive. Plan your daytime meals in advance – international hotels will often carry on serving food, as will a limited number of restaurants (you’ll probably need to reserve a table). Packed lunches are also a good option, although you’ll need to make sure you have somewhere private to eat them. Always bring a bottle of water with you when you’re out and about, but be careful about where you swig from it. Finally, remember that alcohol will not be widely available, even in the evenings.

3. Shift your schedule

It’s all about the nightly festivities during Ramadan. Traditions vary from region to region, but everyone breaks fast with iftar at sundown, then there’s often a long night ahead of socialising with family and friends, followed by the late suhoor meal. In Morocco, streets come alive with light displays, music and offers of sweets at every intersection. While life pretty much goes on as usual in Turkey during Ramadan (or Ramazan as it’s known here), look out for the iftar tents where people flock to break their fasts; these are often subsidised by the local municipality, offering cheap or free food and covering parks and pavements with tables. In the Gulf states, the often very glamorous Ramadan Tents are popular places to spend the night snacking, smoking shisha and playing games. Wherever you are, non-Muslims are almost always welcome to join iftar or hang out in the tents until the small hours.

4. Know the local law and customs

Check the laws of the country you’re travelling in before you arrive, as some places are much stricter than others about public observance of the fast. Non-Muslims aren’t expected to keep the fast themselves – according to tradition, even Muslim travellers are exempt. But at best, eating or drinking in front of people who are probably fasting is bad form, and at worst you can find yourself slapped with a hefty fine. It’s a good idea to dress more conservatively than you would normally, too.

5. Get in the Ramadan swing

This month is traditionally a time of great hospitality and generosity, so go ahead and accept Ramadan sweets or invitations to feasts, parties and family gatherings. You can always return the favour with gift boxes of food or by practising zakat, and giving to a local charity. It might take a while for your body clock to adapt to the local rhythms of quiet days and staying up all night, but you’ll have a far more pleasant and interesting experience if you go with the flow. Twitter can help you stay on top of Ramadan timings this year. If you tweet pan-Arab news network @AlArabiya with the hashtag #iftar followed by the hashtagged name of your city (ie #Dubai), you’ll get an instant reply with your local iftar time.

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Dubai’s hottest new nightlife

From glamorous bars to off-the-hook clubs and a spread of fashionable restaurants, Dubai, as always, has a whole host of brand new nightlife openings. So if you’re planning a wild night out, a celebratory meal, or just want to revel in Dubai’s unique brand of glitz during your holidays, look no further – these are the newest places to party right now.

Above

Sitting on high in the Sofitel Downtown, Above lives up to its name when it comes to most things, but demonstrably not so when looking across to the towering Burj Khalifa. This rooftop lounge is quite literally in the shadow of the world’s tallest building, and Above has decided to make a virtue of the mega-structure, enjoying a vantage point that most people will never see. This will be particularly spectacular come New Year’s Eve when the Burj is transformed into a NASA-style launching pad for one of the best firework shows anywhere in the world.
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Mercury Lounge

The new Four Seasons Resort is home to the just-launched Mercury Lounge. A Tattinger champagne bar in the shape of a huge bubble sits in the middle of the huge, open space, over which impossible good-looking staff and ethereal (at least at the start of the night) punters glide. Largely an al-fresco lounge, it’s perfect for sundowners and bound to be massively popular all the way up to summer.
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Zengo

Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort is one of the more established hotels down in Dubai’s ever-evolving Marina, but it treated itself this year to a new venue in the form of Zengo. Parts bar, restaurant and lounge, like several other establishments around the city it pitches itself as somewhere you can spend your entire night without having to move on. The three bars – Mist, Fire and Smoke certainly help with that – they’re the kinds of places that you can hang out if for nothing than to people watch. Here you can grab a potent cocktail and see everyone from the sublime to the ridiculous to the more ridiculous.|
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The Scene

As the wider world begins to accept that perhaps British food isn’t all roast-dinners and fry-ups and may actually be worth trying, The Scene seems to have arrive at a good time in Dubai. This is British chef Simon Rimmer’s first project in the city, but it’s already been winning rave reviews for the quality and variety of its fare. You won’t find many other places in town serving fantastic Welsh rarebit, or whitebait. Also boasting a great location in Pier 7 in the heart of the Marina.
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CUT

Michelin-starred chef Wolfgang Puck has restaurants from LA to Singapore and this year finally expanded into the UAE with CUT. It’s unlikely to get any stars in its own right – at least until the French guide finally makes its way to Dubai – but it’s been impressing carnivores since it opened in summer. Its lavish brunch is also gaining a stellar reputation, boasting everything from grilled Japanese salmon to Austrian veal schnitzel.
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District 47

The Warwick Hotel on Dubai’s main artery, Sheikh Zayed Road, officially opened in April, but many of its amenities and venues took a bit longer to get up and running. Now the focus is very much on altitude, with the very impressive District 47. Officially the “highest rooftop club in Dubai”, it has trendy hip-hop and R&B nights through the week. If you’re the sort of person who goes clubbing for the cityscape views, then this is definitely the one for you.
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The Food Truck

If you’re tired of dressing up for posh restaurants and swanky bars, you could always try and find Jake’s food truck instead. A new concept for this part of the world, the free-to-roam truck – the sort of thing you find at music festivals around the world – changes location each day, but serves fantastic food until 8pm wherever it goes. Their bagel burgers are a thing of wonder. To find their latest location, check-out their Instagram account: @thefoodtruckdubai

 

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