Pakinam Olama's Around the Clock journey
Posted on 2023 Jun,21  | By Iain Akerman

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Boutique agency Around the Clock has been quietly making a name for itself. ArabAd caught up with managing partner Pakinam Olama to find out more

“When we launched in 2018, we could have followed the same steps as all the other agencies and made a big bang about us and the people behind the project,” says Pakinam Olama, managing partner at Around the Clock. “But we wanted to keep silent. We wanted our success – and the success that we had with our clients and our partners – to speak for itself.”

   That strategy has paid off. Founded in 2018 by three partners, Around the Clock began life as a media planning and buying agency. It has since grown to become a full-service operation, offering everything from digital media consultancy and creative ideation and execution, to social media strategy and PR and events. It has also ventured into esports and ecommerce.

“We wanted to really differentiate ourselves and our product by providing an integrated communication solution under one roof,” says Olama, who is also the agency’s regional anchor. “With massive shifts in digital spend, it makes perfect sense that you have one entity governing your activity, because it enables data optimisation and the transfer of insights and knowledge to the creative team. So youre not only optimising the ad types that youre buying, or the media spend behind the platforms, but the creative as well. What works, what doesnt work, which videos got the most views, the transfer of sentiment (the likes, the comments, the shares), and everything from the social team. So it makes perfect sense that you have everything consolidated.”

   Headquartered in the Gateway Building in Dubai Media City, the agency’s management team and integrated media planning department are located on the fourth floor. Upstairs is the creative studio, social media, client servicing and the PR team, as well as finance and operations. An office in Beirut, meanwhile, is home to further creative and community manager talent, who support the creative studio and the social media department in Dubai.

   Around the Clock’s CEO, Rizk Naifeh, first met Olama while both were working at MCN – Olama at Magna and Naifeh at UM. The agency’s third partner is silent. There were only a few key people in the beginning, remembers Olama of the agency’s early days. “We were doing the recruitment, the HR, the operations, the bookings, the finance, even finishing the purchasing of necessities for the office,” she says. “It felt really great, like you were building something from scratch. Eventually we started steadily growing and I feel very proud that we were able to attract some key talent in the market who believed in our vision, who believed in the opportunity that was out there.

    “Also, we were very open to ideas and suggestions that everyone brought to the table. ‘Let’s do e-gaming, because there’s an opportunity out there’. ‘Let’s do podcasts because we see the merit in it. Let’s find the relevant supplier, let’s find the relevant hub for us to be able to produce podcasts relatively cheaper’. It was a joint effort. And we really believe that diversity adds knowledge and value to our clients, because the team are exposed to different industries, different clientele, different regions. It makes you a better thinker.”


“I feel very proud that we were able to attract some key talent in the market who believed in our vision.”


The agency prides itself on bringing together different minds from different worlds. “This, I think, has been a key pillar of our success,” believes Olama. Credibility, too, has played its part. “At the end of the day, what we offer our clients is the talent behind the agency. So the more we are selective in recruitment, the more we are picking the right brains that complement the whole team, the more we invest in learning and building our knowledge, the more it helps the growth and success of our clients.”

   The agency recently opened an office in Abu Dhabi (Masdar is one of its key clients) and underwent a rebranding for its fourth anniversary. “We felt that it was time to give the agency a fresher look,” says Olama. In the beginning, the agency had promised its clients that it would be a reliable partner to them ‘around the clock’. The original representation of that promise was, obviously, a clock. But with the agency’s key focus now on digital and social media, that representation has moved from analogue to digital. 

An office in Saudi Arabia is next and the agency has plans to go global. “That’s our aspiration,” insists Olama. Continuous investment in the agency’s digital, data and technology solutions is also a priority.

   Launching an agency and ensuring it grows is no easy task. Has it been a stressful journey?

“To be honest, after what we’ve been through for the past four and a half years, I can tell you that it’s been like a rollercoaster ride, with all these emotions and feelings,” replies Olama. “Which gives you a push every day. Every day a new challenge, every day a new milestone. And as one team, as one family, I believe that we’ll be able to make it. We will make it.”