“You are at your very best when things are worst”
This stand-out line from John Carpenter’s ‘Starman’ is a social commentary on the human experience as witnessed and foretold by an extra-terrestrial visitor. The world of cinema is often an impeccable mirror of our unspoken thoughts and a reflection of what we have always hoped and strived for. When it was not safe for us to walk the streets, we were comforted with our expectational spirits that consistently sought the best and dreamed of the potential that we are all equipped with. Roberto Benigni’s ‘Life is Beautiful’ is a perfect display of the heart and courage that rest in all of us when we are faced with adverse situations. Like a flower, our will blooms because our minds are designed to withstand and persevere; it is not what we know or what we prepare ourselves for but what makes up the foundation of our humanity and who we are at our core.
When the recent pandemic struck the globe with its debilitating force, we were collectively, in the communications industry, taken aback and forced to reconsider our stances and path forward. There was scant a precedence for us to adapt or a manual that would identify the needed steps for us to navigate through the past few months. However, in a nation where people from over 200 nationalities call home, a valuable opportunity for professional communicators was presented to comprehend how to tackle a global event that redefined our day-to-day and still is. In the midst of the downturn, at a time when world leaders left the agency of individual safety in constituents’ and residents’ hands, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan released a statement of comfort that asked all those who reside in the UAE to not worry and assured them that they will be taken care of.
“I want you to keep this in mind, this time shall pass, but it requires some patience.” His words sent a soothing wave of comfort across the nation and beyond, solidifying the UAE’s global position not because they were perfectly structured or composed, but because they came from the heart, something all of us in the UAE are accustomed to and privileged to enjoy as a reality. We quickly learned that this was the time to put our best foot forward and bond with our community.
Public relations, in essence, is consistently misrepresented as a means to promote or position a service or brand. In fact, its description is in the name itself: relations that are built with communities, societies, and people as a whole. The vision of our leadership has proven that an intricately planned strategy is not necessarily a prerequisite for good PR, but rather empathy, inspiration, and innovation are the values that help build a strong foundation. The UAE, for example, as a launchpad for regional and global equality and preparedness for the future regardless of the circumstances, was able to present a quintessential response to the coronavirus pandemic within a short span of time and without the need for elaborate planning or discussions.
The UAE has continuously prided itself with a powerful sense of togetherness that speaks for itself and does not require any distinct pre-planning to accomplish. In my time here from childhood and now a father to my own children, I have learned a lot from this great nation and its leaders who have inspired my understanding of heartfelt communication and its importance in all fields beyond just PR. No matter the challenges, no matter the circumstances, when we are strong in resolve and benevolent in intention, our actions alone will speak for themselves and our PR tactics and plans will unravel ever so naturally.
Ahmad Itani is Founder & CEO at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. | www.cbpr.me