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SAUDI ARABIA - Tourism

Mohammed Al-Saleh

CEO, Proeffect

Bio

Mohammed Al-Saleh has always been a storyteller at heart. Stories have always been at the center of his professional life. As a science graduate at KFUPM, Mohammed worked at Aramco for more than 10 years in exploration, where he delved into Saudi Arabia’s hidden resources and treasures an helped unearth richness and prosperity. He gained key knowledge and expertise in management and leadership, and by 2018, his proven skills made him a consultant for the company’s international team, as well as the department group leader. He then decided to focus on the art of filmmaking and video creation, a field very dear to his heart since a young age to tell a more personal story that reflects his deep interest. He took on a variety of roles in the Saudi market, starting with editing videos himself, to leading multimedia divisions in agencies. After his successful journey, he set out to pursue this passion and tell the hidden stories of people and initiatives he believed the world should experience. That is when he founded Proeffect in the Eastern Province. His belief that every individual and every client have a deep treasure that deserves to be shared, enabled him to make Proeffect a benchmark for creative excellence. He has successfully led the company’s growth and expansion, gaining and maintaining working relationships with clients like Aramco, Ithra, SWCC, Misk, Saudi Ministries and many others. Now the CEO and Founder of Proeffect, he is working on taking the company to the next level, making it one of the leading creative production houses in the Kingdom and developing its global narrative reach.

“We are storytellers by nature, and our mission is to help people experience the story of Saudi Arabia globally.”
TBY talks to Mohammed Al-Saleh, CEO of Proeffect, about the art of storytelling, the state of the market, and developing talent.
How have Proeffect’s operations in Saudi Arabia evolved since its establishment?

Proeffect was born out of our passion for telling remarkable stories and has become a success story in a short period of time. We are storytellers by nature, and our mission is to help people experience the story of Saudi Arabia globally. Proeffect is a creative production house that provides full-fledge services encompassing conceptualization, production, and post-production. In Saudi Arabia, we have one office in Riyadh and another in Khobar in the Eastern province. We also recently opened an office in Egypt, proudly taking our first step toward international expansion.

What are the opportunities and challenges for players operating in your field?

Storytelling revolves around people. That’s why at Proeffect, we capitalize on human capabilities. After all, telling stories is the art of people. When you have the right people you become and unstoppable force in the industry. However, finding the right talents can be challenging. Given the evolving landscape of the sector, particularly in Saudi Arabia, we have invested in nurturing local talent and shaping the next generation of storytellers, focusing on empowering women and making sure they interact with the top experts in the field. Emphasizing knowledge transfer, we have actively recruited professionals from diverse global backgrounds, fostering the exchange of expertise and skill enhancement for our emerging talents. Recently, the media landscape has witnessed a significant expansion, marked notably by the introduction of cinemas, for example, which calls for a wider portfolio of talents. Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in scholarships for filmmakers and storytellers, a pivotal initiative that is poised to yield a new generation of world-class Saudi filmmakers. Operating as an SME within the Saudi context, we acknowledge the significant role that these enterprises play in driving the nation’s economy, with an estimated 90% of companies falling within this category. Notably, half of the nation’s workforce is employed by SMEs, giving us a great responsibility to nurture this workforce. We are dedicated to creating an environment that nurtures the potential of young talents and helps them thrive. Moreover, we consistently introduce innovation-driven challenges to our team, and their dedication extends to investing in AI technologies, big data, and virtual reality. These things cannot happen unless you foster a creative work culture where people challenge each other to come up with the best ideas.

In this competitive market how do you set your competitive advantages apart from the media companies?

Proeffect is a one-stop shop for creative solutions. This is what sets us apart. All our services, from creative conceptualization and production to post-production, fall under the same umbrella. Second, we collaborate with renowned international agencies, like Leo Burnett, that selected us for our understanding of their operations. We interpret their messages and what they want to produce and localize it for the Saudi market.

Could you elaborate on how is your client portfolio composed?

Our main segment is B2G. We have proudly worked with most of the ministries in Saudi Arabia, such as the Ministry of Media, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Culture, and many more. We also work with major B2B clients like Aramco. Furthermore, we have been running the operations of the local TV and broadcasting industry. Today, we are focused on expanding our services in the GCC and the international market.

How is the company incorporating cutting-edge technology in its projects?

Saudi Arabia is moving rapidly toward digital transformation, and we believe we are one of the leaders in the media sector capitalizing on digital transformation. We are leveraging AI technologies and other advanced processes to enhance our operations and output. For example, to develop a storyboard, you previously needed to hire an artist, and it would have taken four to five days. Now, with just a few clicks, we can have a storyboard developed in no time. This enables us to deliver remarkable quality in a short time. At every step of the process, utilizing AI technologies increases the quality and reduces time substantially. In addition, we are capitalizing on virtual technologies such as virtual studios, which allow you to produce projects in one place with a significantly lower budget and substantial quality improvement.

Having completed over 1,500 projects, what particular projects are you particularly proud of or have made a significant impact on your client’s performance?

Several projects hold significant sentimental value. The first was for the Ministry of Media, producing content to celebrate the Media Awards two years in a row, akin to the Saudi Oscars. Another memorable project was our contribution to the MENA Climate Week in Riyadh in partnership with Leo Burnett, endorsed by His Royal Highness and the Minister of Energy. Our transformative content altered the event’s narrative, emphasizing the role of the new generation that is addressing environmental challenges. Additionally, the Eastern Province Season project holds a special place in my professional career. As the inaugural entertainment season in Saudi Arabia preceding the Riyadh Season, it entailed producing over 100 videos, coordinating shoots in nine cities simultaneously, and establishing media hubs for seamless connectivity. This initiative not only streamlined our processes but also paved the way for the subsequent success of the Riyadh Season. For such events, we partnered with other small entities as well as Saudi talents freelancers. The regulatory framework has been simplified for freelancers to obtain certificates and issue invoices, essentially functioning as a one-person enterprise. This regulatory shift has facilitated the integration of financial transactions between companies and freelancers. In my opinion, freelancing is extremely healthy for Saudi talents, enabling them to experiment before establishing a company. Finally, our work with Aramco over the past 4 years deserves special recognition, notably the coffee initiative film series we produced with them to tell the world the story of Saudi coffee and heritage.

How do you envision the future of the media and storytelling industry for both private corporations and governmental institutions?

Within the media industry, there is a degree of rigidity in corporate and government sectors, where the emphasis lies on presenting statistics and accomplishments without a deeper narrative. This is where our role becomes pivotal, as we thrive to translate those achievements by telling more human and relatable stories that extend beyond a corporate discourse. This is where media should be headed toward: telling stories of success and transformation, focusing on the people behind big initiatives and the impact these initiatives have on communities and society.

What are your key priorities, and what would you hope to achieve by the end of next year?

Our key priority at Proeffect is to develop talent. We have partnered with Osara, a prominent figure in the training industry, that entails providing our talents with courses and immersive engagement opportunities. Empowering our workforce ranks among our top priorities. Also, our aim is to further establish our presence in the television sector and contribute to a mindset shift, incorporating and integrating new technologies within this realm. Finally, we want to work on challenging projects with new clients to tell new stories. The Kingdom is the future of the region, and we are here to tell its story to the world.

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