Episode 2 Cover-01

About the Podcast

Get an insight into the luxury industry of Dubai as our hosts, Åsa Ferreira and Margaret Herde, unravel the dos and don’ts for establishing a luxury brand in the city. Tune in to episode 2 of The Pulse of Dubai to know more about how Dubai’s geographical location enables various luxury brands to thrive, as well as learn the norms for establishing a network, creating brand awareness, how to do market research, and more.

you know, UAE ranked 11th among the world’s strongest nation brands with a $749bln brand value? Subscribe to the podcast and learn more intriguing facts about the city. 

In this Episode 2, 

  • We introduce you to the professional journey of Margaret Herde
  • Give you a glimpse at the challenges while establishing a luxury brand in Dubai
  • Margaret shares her invaluable experience and tips on establishing a luxury brand in Dubai
  • Margaret announces her Embarr Academy initiative 

In closing, we’d like to say thank you for tuning in to The Pulse of Dubai this week. We hope to see you for Episode 3. 



(00:02) Asa: Hello everybody and welcome to the second episode of the Pulse of Dubai Podcast!

I’m your host Asa Ferreira and today, I’m going to be talking to Margaret Herde, my lovely co-host on  recent events in Dubai from the luxury industry and also covering the importance of branding in this space.

(00:36) Margaret: As always, it’s a great pleasure to be on air with you Asa and I hope you guys enjoy our content!


(00:42) Asa: So for those of you who tuned in, the last episode was to give you an insight on my Business Journey in Dubai and today’s episode will give you cognizance on the luxury industry in Dubai through Margaret’s journey here. A little bit about Margaret she is a valued member of Forbes Council and the Dubai Business Women’s Council. She has nearly two decades of experience in brand management and development and a particular interest in personal branding, she is the Founder and Managing Director of Embarr Group and her experience entails more than 30 luxury brands, several high- profile individuals, serial entrepreneurs, successful politicians all together with first row celebrities like Kendall Janner and Sophia Robot all in establishing their positive branding and communication.

(01:29) Margaret: Wow what an intro Asa, I feel lots of pressure for this episode I hope I can manage properly  ( Casual lines )

(01:36) Asa: I am sure you will do just fine! So, Margaret fill us in on some of the recent industry highlights in Dubai!

(01:42) Margaret: So, I must say that the Ramadan time was always beautiful and the same time it was full of Suhoor events by luxury brands which was very unusual and for those who are not familiar with the description is just second meal during of our holy month of Ramadan. There are a number of the events actually across Dubai I think there are around 30 to 40 weekly events and there is a lot going on in my luxury brand industry presenting their Capsule collections. Also, we had few openings of the new spots across the city altogether with the blockchain in innovation conferences. Last week I can definitely highlight the future innovation summit and where few of my clients attended as speakers. ATM was massive and very successful and definitely the top CEO conference.

(02:35) Asa: That’s quite eventful! So, Margaret, you and I have been in Dubai for pretty much the same amount of time and known each other since. so, once you reached Dubai, what was it that made you think this is the right place for you to setup your business?

(02:50) Margaret: So let me give you a little bit insight of my journey. I started my career 18 years ago and before I moved here, I was based in London. I started with PR & Communication and over the years it evolved to more complex consulting and advisory services that linked to many of my projects in Dubai so I was visiting the city every 2-3 months. Dubai was always a very critical location for my business, our clients from Europe valued our presence and expertise in the GCC region. On the other hand, my local clients value the expertise and portfolio from European market. My time here made me realise that the whole country has so much to offer to entrepreneurs, it’s an emerging market which is growing with the prediction of doubling population in the next 20 years and so there’s big opportunity here.

(03:47) Asa: Right, if you just take a look around there’s so much new innovation that’s in always in progress.Given how dynamic the city is, were there challenges that you faced along the way?

(03:59) Margaret: Yes, indeed! Well, I moved to Dubai from UK and I decided to open my company on the mainland and this is my character to do all the paper work by myself to understand and learn how the system works – well I can say it was a challenging experience to say the least but no regrets. 

(04:21) Asa: I get that. and when you’re new to a city, this can all seem daunting. So how did you go about establishing a network once you got here?

(04:29) Margaret: That is a very good one. Network it’s something which I built over the years. The truth is that several of my contacts who are actually my active business partners who I have known for many years suddenly we all met in Dubai. I have always believed in networking and it is true that sometimes you need to wait for the right opportunity with a particular contact. Something what I learned and practiced when it comes to networking – guys always quality never quantity. 

(05:04) Asa: I couldn’t agree more. Considering your expertise in this field, what would your views be on how Dubai was established as a brand?

(05:14) Margaret: So, Dubai brand was built over the years it’s all about luxury, innovation, creativity, and experience.“The New World Wealth Index” report has revealed that Dubai is the main luxury hub in the Middle East,You could say that the Luxury industry has definitely the strongest presence in hospitality, fashion industry, jewellery, and beauty sectors. In my opinion Dubai is on the way to become the luxury hub. However, at the same time we need to remember it’s still an emerging market and the audience still should be more educated, and they should have more appreciation for the design and heritage and not only the big logos. 


(06:05) Asa: Makes sense. That being said, how important is Dubai as the geographic location for the luxury brands?


(06:12) Margaret: That is a very important one as Dubai has a strategic position and attract buyers from other Middle East countries along with Asia and Africa. Even though Dubai is a relatively young city, it has already gained the trust and admiration of the top luxury brands, due to unique set up and the access to the new wealthy audience and that is why you know at the end of the last year we could see the Chanel fashion show, Armani fashion show very unique events so It is definitely a signal that they are on the right track.


(06:53) Asa: Interesting so what would your opinion on luxury brands and their Marketing & PR approach in the region be?


(07:00) Margaret: It’s very much dedicated to the GCC region as the customers tend to be “disloyal”. They have different ways of shopping, so the brands need to put more effort into getting their attention. As we all know majority of the luxury brands originated in Europe with their great heritage and the story behind their success which plays significant role in the present time.  In this respect GCC region clients are different when it comes to the brand awareness and appreciation of the brand value.


(07:40) Asa: And In terms of the brand locations, it seems as though majority of the retail sector is mainly located in the malls here which is unusual for luxury brands, right? How does the location overall influence the shopping experiences?

(07:55) Margaret: So due to the weather Malls are the only solution and when we think about it doesn’t feel sophisticated. Even we have some great ones like Dubai Malls and Mall emirates I would say it’s a challenging part for the brands because it definitely effects the customer’s experience. However, I am pleased to see more outdoor concepts as Alserkal all together with the Pop-up’s which also brand start expanding luxury hospitality, most popular location as Sal or Nammos.


(08:28) Asa: Right, and for a brand looking to launch in Dubai with the market and resources that are available and the whole ecosystem that is curated by the government, would it be right to say that the journey is relatively straightforward, or would that be oversimplifying it?

(08:43) Margaret: As Dubai is an emerging market, I can observe several well-established brands and several great start-ups have a fantastic potential. On the other hand, we have many brands without a chance for survival. So sometimes I am in the position of a “bad guy” and I am providing honest and professional feedback. I truly believe the existing brand owners those are planning to establish their brand they should definitely be educated and how to establish and manage the luxury brands.

(09:24) Asa: Yes, I get that. So, what would your advice for those who plan to set up or launch a luxury brand in Dubai be?


(09:31) Margaret: Depending definitely on the experience of the person, the starting points may vary. Dubai opens great opportunities for the GCC region and also became like the window for the global market; however, it always requires proper market research, define the objectives, and create unique product or service. Do not try to copy existing ideas as the market will verify it quickly. No matter what your idea is, sustainability is a must. It is very important to invest in the team and estimate your budget accurately. Definitely I would suggest to hire a consultant who can guide you through the whole process. Please remember since we are living in a digital marketing era, this virtual world sometimes creates a misleading image of the reality, and it can affect people’s perception. So I would say don’t rely on the short cuts provided by social media as establishing luxury brand is a long and challenging journey so just be prepared for it.


(10:50) Asa: Right, Education on the market, competitors and the audience should be of utmost importance. That brings me to my next question- is Education in the Luxury industry big in Dubai? 

(11:02) Margaret: It’s now starting to be!  There are courses available in brand marketing, luxury brand management, fashion, and art. Over the years I lectured in UK universities in London at Regent University, Instituto Marangoni which I am happy to announce that they will be opening their campus in September this year and London College of Arts and since I moved to Dubai, I’ve been actively involved in the education sector in UAE. I’m also very excited to share that I am soon launching Embarr Academy with short courses with market experts as tutors and you are one of them.

(11:43) Asa: That’s awesome! Big congratulations & I’m very excited to be a part of this!  Would you like to share a little information on Embarr Academy?

(11:51) Margaret : With a pleasure! Over the years of working with the education sector I felt like there is a space in the market for a format where tutors coming from different industries share their experience and their knowledge which is based on their professional achievements and not only the academic background. And over the years also I built a strong network which allowed me to invite market experts which are from different parts of the world to curate professional courses and be a part of Embarr Academy.

(12:28) Asa: That’s absolutely Brilliant! Will these courses be available online?

(12:32) Margaret: Yes we are going to have the online and offline 4 months and the online will allow students to actually join us from anywhere in the world. And we are also going to have individual courses and the consultation. The physical courses will be in Dubai in Apollo club. We are going to have the offline which will be of 4 months, the professional which will cover the luxury, business, brand management, personal branding, how to create your personal image and we are going to have the Protocol and the Etiquette altogether with the digital marketing by you and on the other hand we have the lifestyle courses like Finishing school for the young girls, Afternoon Tea course with the Social Etiquette. So, all the academic details are online simply go to our website

(13:30) Asa: Can’t wait Margaret! It’s truly impressive, everything you’ve done in this space! You are an expert in branding and managing profiles of high network Individuals and public figures, how would you say people value branding in the GCC region?

(13:45) Margaret: That’s a very good and important question, I am afraid we might not have that much time to cover this topic fully today but let me share the highlights. Several of my clients are public figures or business profiles people who understand and value personal branding. I would say It’s all about the awareness, branding  and credibility, in today’s world we pay for branding and the trademark. Building the brand is a journey not a destination. The perception is higher when it comes to value of the goods or services, but our personal brand plays an extremely important role when it comes to your personal career, business or when you are in politics. Social media all together with digital presence are a big game changer when it comes to the branding and the same time it is a powerful tool which can lift or damage credibility overnight.

(14:54) Asa: Right, do you have an example of the importance of brand value for people getting into this space?

(15:01) Margaret: So it depends if we are talking about personal branding or you are planning to launch your brand. There are many elements which are the part of the branding and it requires the investment. For example, if someone is establishing a luxury business and value products or services as a starting price AED 15,000 but for the logo and the website they are willing to spend AED 10,000 and social media AED 5,000 monthly, we need to educate this client. I always ask my clients what is your brand value, how much people are willing to pay for your trademark? When people enter Hermes to buy Birkin bag, they don’t question the price. 

(15:54) Asa: That’s true. Investment in Both Professional & Personal branding is integral to a brand’s success. I often see clients focus into looking at just generating sales, but if no one understands your brand or if no one understands(16 you as a brand, you’re really leaving very little scope to generate your sale.

(16:33) Margaret: Exactly!

In today’s world we pay for brand names and trademarks and look at the luxury brands they actually spend millions for our experience, when you go to their events or if you go to their boutiques, their pubs so they are actually everywhere and really they blow our mind with the entire experience and then we can really feel the value when you are purchasing their product or part of their services so Individuals launching in the luxury industry need to look at brand building as a journey and again I always repeat the same it is not a destination because it plays an extremely important role when it comes to your personal image, career, business, and even politics.

(17:05) Asa: Agreed. And how do you go about Personal Branding for your clients?

(17:12) Margaret: Depending on the client’s profile we need to dig deeper to understand his or her professional journey and objectives. Sometimes client needs rebranding, and the process starts from the scratch. The biggest challenge is the human factor which is hard to predict and sometimes emotions can take the lead unfortunately. The sentence which I always share with my clients during our first meeting is they need to understand “The way you see yourself it’s only 40-50% accurate how others actually see you”. A part of it when it comes to the media/ social media we need to accept the fact that sometimes we can lose control over unpleasant content which for many people is difficult to face. In our region we are fortunate so we see less controversial publicity compared to Europe or US. Well, it’s a long journey but for many it’s a must as it’s the only way to give credibility for your business or public role.

(18:28) Asa:  Talking about journeys and individuals, In your opinion, is the Luxury business dominated by any 1 gender? Male or Female?

(18:37) Margaret: That is a good one so the Fashion and Luxury business has always been male dominated despite the clientele being female dominated. But I think the long-term goal for this industry overall is definitely to support and promote gender equality and it is something that we can observe in the UAE government strategy that they established certain programs and we have this fantastic UN women entity for the emirates and the expatriates and female business owners. So I think that we are in the right track and there is still a lot to do and people defintely are more aware and like you Asa and me myself we are woman and we know this equal pay is a big topic which we are all working very hard to be in the right payroll as men are so yes it is a journey.  

(19:43) Asa: It’s great to see an initiative dedicated to support women businesses and business owners through government regulations, legal aspects, and just providing them a platform for networking.

(19:46) Asa: So, here’s to looking forward! And that brings me to my last question- Margaret, what’s the next big thing that you’re looking forward to?

(20:04) Margaret: So, Asa of course it is my Embarr academy baby which I am going to dedicate my full attention as it is a big project and yes I am looking forward to see how it grows.

(20:17) Asa: oh that’s something I’m excited about too!

So everyone, that brings us to the end of this episode.

It was lovely catching up, Margaret.

A big thank you to everyone who’s listening!

(20:26) Margaret: Thank you Asa it is always a pleasure and thank you guys for listening our podcast we are here for you from Dubai so please put the comments, send us direct messages about the topics you want us to explore, may be some insights about Dubai, entrepreneurship and hope to see you soon.


[00:02] Åsa welcomes Margaret and mentions the list of topics that they would discuss 

[00:54] Åsa gives a detailed introduction to Margaret’s professional career

[01:37] Åsa asks Margaret about some recent industry highlights in Dubai

[01:42] Margaret presents an overview of the weekly events, with a focus on the future innovation summit

[02:47] Asa asks Margaret what made you think Dubai is the right place for business

[03:58] Åsa asks Margaret about the challenges of building a luxury brand in Dubai

[03:59] Margaret gives her opinion on different solutions for establishing a business in Dubai

[04:21] Asa asks Margaret how she established a network in Dubai

[05:04] Åsa asks Margaret her views on how Dubai was established as a brand

[05:14] Margaret explains how Dubai brand was built over the years

[06:05] Asa asks Margaret how important is Dubai as the geographic location for the luxury brands

[06:53] Åsa asks Margaret her opinion on luxury brands and their Marketing & PR approach

[07:00] Margaret gives an insight into dos and don’ts for marketing and PR approach in Dubai

[07:48] Åsa asks Margaret how does the location of Dubai overall influence the luxury    brands 

[07:55] Margaret gives her opinion on how Dubai’s location enables Luxury brands to thrive

[09:24] Åsa asks Margaret to give her advice for those who plan to set up luxury brand in Dubai 

[09:31] Margaret gives a valuable advice for every entrepreneur

[10:50] Åsa asks Margaret if education in luxury industry is provided in Dubai

[11:02] Margaret announces that her company Embarr, is soon launching Embarr Academy with  short courses with market experts as tutors.            

[11:43] Asa asks Margaret to share a little information about Embarr academy

[12:32] Margaret explains about Embarr academy and its course format

Show notes

Ever wondered how businesses set up and start off in Dubai? What are the obstacles involved? Or what tricks do entrepreneurs need to know to grow and become successful in Dubai? In this episode we give you all the answers as our hosts, Åsa Ferreira and Margaret Herde, address why choose Dubai, what costs to expect, who to approach as clientele, when to expect returns, and where to expect challenges while setting up or establishing your business in Dubai.