Ian Fairservice Motivate Publishing

Ian's first job as the assistant manager at the Excelsior Hotel in Dubai in 1978. The Emirates of the 1970s would be barely recognisable to today's inhabitants. "There were very, very few properly made-up roads," Mr Fairservice says. "It didn't matter if you had a four-wheel-drive car or an ordinary car, nobody drove anywhere without ropes, spades, water and everything required to pull someone out of the sand." There were also no English-language publications, an absence he became familiar with when trying to advertise for his hotel. "The only printed media was something which was run off a Roneo [mimeograph] machine and stapled together and sold at the traffic lights, which was one-day-old print-offs from the Reuters bulletin," he says. "If I wanted to advertise my hotel, I'd have to make 5,000 copies of my own leaflet, drive to Sharjah, which was a long way on not very well made-up roads, and then I'd have to pay money for them to staple the leaflets into the day-old news. And that was the only print advertising that existed in 1978."

Motivate Publishing 1979

Khaleej Times and Gulf News started in 1979, but still there were no magazines in English. When the hotel where Mr Fairservice had been working changed management, he took the opportunity to start his own business, part of which included launching What's On. After a rocky start, What's On grew, becoming the foundation of a business that expanded to include advertising, design, public relations and events management, while, in the early years being subsidised by a mobile disco that members of the staff ran at hotels in the evenings. "We were basically the jack of all trades, master of right, in media, events and advertising," Mr Fairservice says. "We muddled along rather successfully for four or five years like that." Then in 1985, Emirates Airline was launched, and it selected Motivate as the publisher of its inflight magazine. Mr Fairservice recognised this as an opportunity to refocus the business. He shut down the advertising, PR and events arms, and focused solely on publishing. "Once we made it very clear that we were focusing our attention on publishing, our publishing business grew very quickly," he says In addition to Emirates Woman, which was founded in the early 1980s, Motivate launched magazines for Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports, and began publishing books.

From The National

CLICK HERE for IAN's VIDEO looking back on 35 years of "What's On"