Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Europe, Middle East and Africa, Simon Francis, has reaffirmed the company’s expansion plans for the Middle East following the resignation of Elias Ashkar as Regional CEO, Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
“Elias came in to instigate the restructuring of Saatchi & Saatchi in the MENA region. Thanks to him, this initial phase is now complete and our strategic objectives have been fulfilled. I want to personally thank Elias for his tremendous contribution to the region. Under his leadership the Agency has gone from strength to strength and all of us at Saatchi & Saatchi wish him the very best for the future. We are now in an excellent position to move forward to the next phase.”
Francis reiterated that the expansion of the network in the MENA region begun by Ashkar will continue, starting with the opening of a fully-owned office in Beirut in 2010.
Elias Ashkar said, “At the end of the decade I sat down and reviewed my professional and personal objectives, and while I am very pleased with what has been achieved at Saatchi & Saatchi and with the expansion plans in progress, in my heart, after working around the world, travelling extensively for the past 35 years, I will now settle down in Switzerland with an option that will afford me and my family a more stable way of life.
Last year alone, I spent over 270 nights in hotels away from home and it is now time for change. The personal highlight of my tenure at Saatchi & Saatchi has been the hugely successful launch by the agency of the “My City. My Metro” campaign in Dubai in September 2009.”
Ashkar’s time with the Agency commenced in October 2008 and was quickly followed by a number of new business wins, including securing the tender to market the Dubai Metro, the Gulf’s first underground metro system.
While the new regional CEO is yet to be named, Saatchi & Saatchi’s MENA operations will be lead by the strong regional Dubai-based management team of Kristine Varma – Regional CFO, Marc Lineveldt—Regional Creative Director and Ben Roberts—Regional Human Interests Director.