Dubai Success Story: Khadeeja Al Marzooqi
Tell us a little about how you became the director of Dubai FM Radio 93.0
After studying media in university, I worked for about four years in every role that I could related to radio, eventually becoming a presenter for various radio shows. I got a chance to interview artists, poets, scientists, economists – so many different people for morning and night shows. That’s how you find out what you’re good at and what you enjoy. Then I became a program manager, then completed a masters in Australia. When I came back, I established the region’s first Islamic radio station, Noor Dubai, from scratch, for Dubai Media Incorporated. Then my team and I did the same for Dubai FM.
What’s your favourite thing about working for Dubai FM?
We get to choose topics based on what’s interesting, what’s a cool trend, and topics that will make a difference in peoples’ lives. Through media, we have a mission and the capability of sending powerful messages to people which can influence or change their thinking. So we try to put on programs that promote diversity of thought, fresh ideas, and general topics that improve people’s health, lifestyle, and standard of living.
Who are your main listeners?
We aim to speak to an audience of liberal youth in the Gulf region and the majority of our listeners are Emirati and Arabs between the ages of 18 and 40. We’re very active on social media, particularly Twitter, and we started interacting with listeners by asking them to suggest topics for us to discuss on air, or request songs live via Twitter, or retweet a listener as Dubai FM’s “Tweet of the Day.” We found that as we boosted our online presence, we got more followers from across the region in various age groups.
What was one of your favourite shows?
We have had so many different people as guests on our shows and the diversity is what makes it fun and relevant. We’ve discussed everything from fashion to nuclear programs to healthy meals for children in school cafeterias to Emirati art. It’s so dynamic.
Do you work with a team?
I work with an amazing team. We are all young and hooked on social media – Twitter, Instagram, YouTube – you name it. We’re all about fresh ideas and engaging with our listeners. It’s great that everyone’s on the same wavelength, it’s different when you have to convince someone on your team who has done things a certain way for 20 years to try a different approach.
How do you make social media work for you?
Social media complements traditional media, everything is integrated these days. The other day, a guest recognized me before I said hello and asked to take a picture in an area of our studio that he had only seen on Instagram. It was amazing. Before, people didn’t know what a radio presenter looks like and now, there are videos of us and pictures of our studio online.
Are there stressful or less enjoyable aspects to the job?
Work hours are often long and unsocial – I hosted a program during Ramadan called Emarat Allayla that started at 11 p.m. for two hours, then I would drive home to Abu Dhabi. And when you’re working your way up, your time is dictated by when guests can make appearances or when news breaks. Once or twice, a guest has cancelled at the very last minute, so we had to scramble to find replacements or change the program slightly. So you really have to love the job, love the intensity and the demands, and really have a passion for it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
What message would you give to girls who want to get into media?
My message is to love the work. If you’re interested in media for the 15 minutes of fame or as a passing trend, don’t do it. If you have the passion, you’ll find that a career in media is so fulfilling and rewarding.
How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
The media industry is very social, so it gives you a chance to communicate with different people in different settings, so it’s not like I’m at a desk alone in front of a screen for 15 hours a day. That said, like any other job, you have to make time for the gym and family and a decent social life and holidays.
Do you have a role model?
What’s next for you?
I love what I do now. I’d love to be able to host talk shows for the Arab world someday.