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The Essential List: Tahaab Rais


The joy of Forrest Gump, the genius of Nolan, the beauty of New Zealand and the best bites in Dubai with FP7/McCann's MENA strategy head

The Essential List: Tahaab Rais
After twelve years in Dubai, Tahaab Rais has got the city sussed. The Regional Head of Strategy & Truth Central at FP7/McCann Worldgroup MENA is the man to ask if you’re on the hunt for a bite to eat or a holiday spot in the desert. This year the agency has been on a roll, with its clever Mother's Day campaign that added a whole new word to the Arabic language and its touching Coca-Cola Ramadan spot, which tackled Islamophobia with a typically 'Coke' lightness of touch. 

As a strategist, perhaps it’s unsurprising that his favourite pieces of pop culture are those that get to core of human emotion - but what’s more surprising is his secret superhero identity… 


o Place of birth: Bombay, India. I was born before it became ‘Mumbai’ so I still continue to call it Bombay. It just sounds nicer too ;)

o Hometown: I’ve been calling Dubai in the United Arab Emirates my home for the past 12 years, and I absolutely love it here. 

o Vacation: New Zealand. All of it. Peter Jackson made a great choice! It’s the best holiday destination in the world in my books. It has even tempted me to move and live there, for good! 

o Staycation: Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. They have lovely idyllic resorts nestled between mountains and the desert. I’ve made some great memories there and continue to do so whenever I can get out of Dubai. 

o Place of work: I’ve achieved what I have achieved and become known enough to feature on LBB (not bad eh!) thanks to FP7/McCann Worldgroup MENA and the people I’m so lucky to work with over here. 

o Place of workout: My punching bag in the backyard. A bowling machine for me to bat against. And my lounge-room with my 5-year-old daughter. 

o Mode of transport: Our Black Stallion (or Uber).

o Miscellaneous Travel Essential: My travel pouch that always carries some key memories from my life. I consider it to be my good luck charm whenever I fly and carry it for every single trip; even if it’s a day trip. 


o Artist: I’m a Banksy fan. He’s brilliant, rebellious (with a purpose) and super inspiring when it comes to his commentary on the world around us. 

o Musician: Jason Mraz. Love his lyrics, song-writing and his genre. 

o Commercials director: I admire the artistic work done by Spike Jonze. 

o Film director: Christopher Nolan. I’ve learnt so much from him about storytelling.

o Photographer: There’s this person who I follow on Instagram: Labyrinthiansmile. Her aerial photographs are absolutely stunning. Aya also seems like a super nice person given the few conversations we’ve had.  

o Film: The movie that changed my life - Forrest Gump. It taught me how to be fully alive to the world and make an ordinary life, legendary. Just like Baby's Day Out.

o Series: As silly as it might sound, I actually love the insights I’ve gained from “How I Met Your Mother”. It’s not the best series in the world. It never was. It’s mindless – a lot of the time. But, there have been some beautiful episodes and parts in the series that have lingered with me as insights that I have used in some of the good work I’ve done! As a science and technology fan, I enjoy “Black Mirror” a lot. 

o Commercial: I love gaming. And if I HAD to pick ONE, it’d have to be “Long live play: Michael” by PlayStation. It’s a tribute to gamers from the games and the characters in the game. It’s based on how gamers are the only friend or support that those characters have in dire situations in their ‘lives’ in the game. It was awesome. It was fun. It was touching. It’s the one commercial that made me cry. 

o Music Video: “Stayin’ Alive” from Saturday Night Fever! It’s the first “music video” that I remember watching with my parents. 

o Book: Jonathan Livingston Seagull – a story about life and growth, told through a seagull’s quest for excellence and self-perfection. It’s a thinner book than some of my other favourites, so it’s an easy read. And it’s inspiring for anyone who is seeking to the best in their chosen field or endeavour.

o Newspaper (off or online): I absolutely love reading online versions of most publications across the MENA region every morning. It’s my way of getting abreast with all that’s happening or is trending. 

o Podcast: As a fan of movies and television, given their influence on people and culture, I totally enjoy tuning in to the podcasts of Collider, while working away. 


Food and Drink

o Restaurant: Play at The H Dubai. It has an enjoyable variety of delicious food with super-friendly staff. It’s a date-night favourite for my wife and I in Dubai.  

o Cheap bite: There are tonnes of local joints in Dubai that we drive around too at random hours of the night, when hungry. They all have something to munch on.

o Working lunch: Good salads and/or grilled food from any place nearby the office.

o Dish: I love Tandoori Chicken. If there’s nothing else left on earth and that’s all I had to eat thrice a day, every day, I’d be a happy man!

o Snack: I don’t snack but I do enjoy my daily dose of Date Milk. Yes, it exists! And it’s yummy. And super energizing. 

o Guilty Pleasure: Anything to do with chocolate.

o Bar: Does a chocolate one count? :)

o Tipple: Interesting fact - I don’t drink alcohol. 

o Soft Tipple: Coca-Cola and Fanta.

o Miscellaneous food: Iranian and Arabic cuisines. Any day!

o Miscellaneous Beverage: Grapefruit and Carrot Juices (fresh!).


o Phone: iPhone for personal usage!

o Computer: MacBook Pro for everything with an iMac for film-making.

o TV: Apple TV.

o Headphones: SteelSeries Arctis Wireless. 

o Camera: Nikon. Always!

o Sound system: Bose, including dad’s piece from the 1990s!

o Pen / pencil: Whatever I find lying around! 

o Where you document an idea: In my ‘Notes’ on my Phone and my Mac. Then, that content is copied into ‘Drafts’ across my two personal emails (in case, one email is locked out over time) and subsequently, it is also copied into a ‘Word Doc’ titled by the topic of the idea (Yep…). 

o Watch: It’s a beautiful ‘Police’ watch; ONE that my late mom bought and gifted me, when I once got promoted into a new role, a few years back. She had always loved that brand. I’ve still got it and wear it almost every day, everywhere. 

o App: WhatsApp. It’s a great way to connect to colleagues, clients and others I work with, whenever I travel, and review as well as share everything possible.

o Website: Facebook. And its many pages. My source of daily insights and inspiration. 

o Work program: Keynote. Plus, its transitions with a hidden remote make me come across as if I have telekinetic powers in a presentation!

o Digital work tool: I love all the McCann Worldgroup tools that we use for insights, intelligence, collaboration and inspiration. 

o Analogue work tool: Post-it notes and flipcharts. They work like a charm in all those idea-storming sessions and workshops. And they make it seem like I’m intelligent…

o Grooming: Recently, I have a peculiar hairdo. And it requires a very specific type of shave for the two ‘lines’ I like sporting. I enjoy that little pampering that I get at my local salon. 

o Miscellaneous Kit Essential: Over the years, travelling around the world has helped me collect a lot of travel adaptors. Today, I kind of feel like a superhero with the number of adaptor goodies in my ‘armoury’. Someone once called me “A Travel Adaptor Man”. Flattering. 

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McCann EMEA, Sun, 22 Jul 2018 21:47:53 GMT