Hamida Aman Builds Cultural Bridges and Promotes Peace Through a Community Music Festival

Children are seen scribbling messages of peace and tolerance on a big board, ahead of the “Salam Aleikum” peace concert at Zabeel Park on Friday evening.
Children are seen scribbling messages of peace and tolerance on a big board, ahead of the “Salam Aleikum” peace concert at Zabeel Park on Friday evening.

 

Kabul-born Hamida Aman Organises a non-profit peace concert at Dubai’s Zabeel Park, under the Patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding

 

Featuring seven talented alternative music artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Africa, “Salam Aleikum” concert was held at Dubai’s Zabeel park for the first time.

The non-profit music festival aims to promote peace and cultural tolerance amongst the youth and to present a more positive image of Muslims to the rest of the world.

The concert is organised under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding, by Hamida Aman, the General Manager of Guru Production, a Dubai Media City production company.

The centre supports community events, but this was the centre’s first community music project.

Nasif Kayed, Managing Director of Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding said: “We are all for any good cause that promotes peace between mankind, we are a non-profit organisation ourselves and always count on the support of our friends out there.”

Hamida Aman, Owner of a production company and radio station in Kabul, Afghanistan has organised a similar peace concert in Afghanistan two years ago.

“In 2013, I had a concert in Kabul for peace, where artists from neighboring countries performed in Kabul. It was very successful without any security problems.”

Since 2010, Aman has been based in Dubai as the General Manager of Guru Production, but she still visits Afghanistan regularly.

Hamida thought that it was the right time to bring the project to Dubai after a recent trip to Europe. She noticed the mainly negative perception that the West had of Muslims.

“I was very shocked that they had such a bad image of the Muslims,” she said.

The festival brings together artists from different cultures and backgrounds to communicate a positive message about Muslims and encourage peace and cultural tolerance.

Hamida adds: “We are not all terrorists. We are not all aggressive. We know how to be happy as well.”

“For me Dubai is one of the best places to celebrate togetherness. Here, all communities are living together in peace and harmony.”

Aman’s personal experience as a refugee in Switzerland for half of her life strongly inspires her peace-focused projects and initiatives.

“Because I know what war is, what is destruction and what it means to be a refugee and to go in exile, it’s important that we keep fighting to avoid this for future generations,” she said.

“My generation always lived in war and exile, and I don’t want this to continue happening in other places.”

The alternative artist line-up featured musicians whose songs carry powerful messages.

Hamida plans to organise future peace concerts in other Middle-Eastern cities.

“This is the first one in Dubai, and I hope that I will manage to bring it to Jordan, Lebanon and to Cairo eventually – to make a caravan,” she said.

The non-profit initiative will continue to spread the message of peace, and will always be for the community.

“The concert is for a cause and I want to keep it like that,” Hamida says.

“I would like to keep it like that – always for free.”

YouTube Video link:

A short video recorded at the venue while Indian Reggae band, Delhi Sultanate were performing on stage at the “Salam Aleikum” music festival at Zabeel Park on Friday:

 

“Salam Aleikum” peace concert’s logo celebrates the harmony and connection of youth from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
“Salam Aleikum” peace concert’s logo celebrates the harmony and connection of youth from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

 

The word “Salam” means peace in Arabic. Artists in Zabeel park painting the letters of the word “Salam” ahead of the concert start on Friday.
The word “Salam” means peace in Arabic. Artists in Zabeel park painting the letters of the word “Salam” ahead of the concert start on Friday.

 

Indian reggae band duo Delhi Sultanate and Begum X perform songs of equality, community, and positivity at the first ever Salam Aleikum peace concert at Dubai’s Zabeel Park on Friday.
Indian reggae band duo Delhi Sultanate and Begum X perform songs of equality, community, and positivity at the first ever Salam Aleikum peace concert at Dubai’s Zabeel Park on Friday.

 

Undefined Declarations’ List: Top 10 Things I like about being a Blogger

 

Blogging from Cafes becomes a lifestyle for most bloggers
Blogging from Cafes becomes a lifestyle for most bloggers

 

My previous Top 10 List was about being raised by parents from the Gulf region. I come from a moderately conservative family. We are not liberal, but we’re also not extremely conservative or religious. Here’s a link for that post if you missed it.

Today’s list includes the top 10 things that I like about being a blogger. I started this blog in September 2012 to showcase my writing to potential employers. Now, it’s more of a hobby and sometimes feels like a full-time role!

I present to you the top reasons that keep me hooked to writing blog posts:

  1. I can work from almost any location that I feel like working from. Writing blog posts can be done from the comfort of my bed, a cafe across the road, or even from the beach if I had the time and luxury of carrying around a laptop, and a beach bag full of beach essentials.

    Jumeirah Mosque view at this Starbucks Middle East location
    Jumeirah Mosque view at this Starbucks Middle East location
  2. I can write posts at any time of the day. On most days, I have a couple of things to get done. So, blogging is something that might not come at the top of my priority list. That’s when I can write in the evenings – when most people are watching TV, reading, socializing, or out having dinner or drinks. This point can be a disadvantage to blogging too. But that will be discussed in another post 🙂
  3. I get to do creative work, that I choose myself, without any supervision or editing from another party. Unlike working for a publishing house and adhering to certain rules and regulations, blogging gives the writer the freedom of expression and writing within their personal set of rules and limitations.
  4. I get invited to review restaurant meals, spa treatments and other cool stuff. When I first started the blog, I was reviewing these things anyway, because I enjoyed it. After some time of hard work, the blog gained more followers and I started to get invites to review meals, and other stuff. The only issue these days is that, with my University course work, I don’t have the same free time I used to have when I first started the blog. That’s why, I don’t write as many reviews as I used to in the past.
  5. Being a blogger means that I’m considered as a media person. This grants me access to events as press. It also allows me to network with other media professionals, and others from the media industry.
  6. One thing that I really like about blogging is meeting other bloggers. Whether they are based in the same city, or on another continent, it’s always great to meet like-minded people. Most bloggers share many traits in common; they are interesting, determined and curious individuals. We love to learn new things, and we are pretty good in taking action.

    What I just Love the Blog and I catching up over lunch
    What I just Love the Blog and I catching up over lunch
  7. Blogging allows me to share my thoughts, experiences, views and ideas with my readers. It makes me so ecstatic to hear that a reader found my post insightful, or that they learned so many things from it. It equally brightens my day when someone tells me that what I wrote resonates with their own experience very strongly.
  8. I love that blogging has helped me practice – and hopefully – improve my writing skills. I think most of all, it gave me the confidence that I needed to keep writing. It helped me stay focused on my goal of becoming a better writer and journalist.
  9. It helped me build on my social and networking skills. I started to attend all kinds of events when I started this blog. This was mainly to meet new people and to generate blog content. It was very exciting to meet people from different backgrounds and industries. At that time, I was mixing with people from the fashion, arts, food or media industries. That fitted well with the blog concept, as I was writing a lifestyle blog that covered all these topics. Nowadays, I still enjoy attending random events. But due to my time constraints, I have to be more selective with the events that I choose to attend. Of course once I’m done with my course, I should be able to attend more events and network with people from various communities.
  10. Being a blogger who doesn’t outsource anything to another party means that you need a set of multiple skills. I truly enjoy being the following:
  • The editor who comes up with the idea for the post.
  • The photographer who takes the pictures for the post.
  • The writer and editor who writes and then edits the words and images.
  • The marketing and PR person who promotes the blog.
  • The social media person who promotes the blog and the posts on social media.
  • The communications person who attends events and tells people about the blog.
  • The entrepreneurial spirit who constantly goes through ups and downs, but never gives up.

As you can see, blogging is a very fun and engaging way to communicate with others and express your feelings and thoughts through words. I love hearing positive feedback as much as I love hearing critical remarks. So feel free to leave a comment or not 🙂

The next post will be a list of the things that I don’t like about being a blogger. So stay tuned for that!

Till then, Have a wonderful weekend ahead. No matter how you choose to spend it!

XXX

 

Coffee breaks are more fun when blogging is involved :)
Coffee breaks are more fun when blogging is involved 🙂

Undefined Declarations’ List: Top 10 Tips for Making it in the Creative Industry

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When I first decided to change careers from IT to journalism back in 2008, I had no idea about the way to get there. I didn’t realize that it would be a completely different route to what I was used to, or to how I eventually got my IT job. Doing things the hard way – without anyone to guide me, assist or support me – I must say that I learned the lessons in the best way possible: by trial and error.

Comparing my previous career and work experience to what I do now is a very hard task. They’re two completely different fields and work environments. But, I will give you a brief idea to help you understand and maybe get inspired to make a similar change or adjustment to what you currently do.

I had a degree in Business Information Systems from the University of Bahrain. And after working in IT support for around four years, I decided to quit my job and pursue my passion: writing. I was 28, a year later, I moved to London to take a foundation course with London College of Fashion. After completing one term of A-Level equivalent and intensive study, I decided to move to Dubai to start interning for publishing companies in the hopes of landing an editorial role along the way…It’s the year 2014 and I’m still working towards that same goal that I had aimed for when I moved here in 2010. Except that these days, I have learned so many lessons along the way and I would like to share them with anyone who is working towards a similar goal or is looking into becoming a creative professional and earning a living out of it.

 

1. Start doing the creative work

While it might work otherwise in other industries – get a degree then apply for a job. In the creative industry, it’s the other way around. You must start by doing the work that you aspire to get paid for. Since employers will only hire you after they have seen your actual work and how you can add value to their organization and goals. Plus, doing the actual work will greatly help in improving your skills and expertise.

 

2. Do unpaid work

Freelancing and offering your services for free is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a great way to build your portfolio – because you will need one in order to get paid for your work. So keep doing unpaid work for as long as it takes to get paid for your work and to be accredited for it.

 

3. Work 24/7

Working in a fun and creative environment is a good thing, but you must be prepared to work without taking breaks. Fixed working hours aren’t part of the game. There’s always something new to learn, some project to work on, a new and exciting idea to consider…The cool thing is that you get to be your own boss and you can manage your time according to your personal preferences.

 

4. Take notes of your ideas and put them into action

Whether it’s your next blog post, photo shoot, short video, web site design, you need to keep coming with fresh and new ideas. Most importantly, put those ideas into action by implementing them into that blog post, photo shoot, video or web page.

 

5. Love what you do

Any entrepreneur will give you this advise really. You must do what you do with passion if you want to get to anywhere. The monetary return will not appear in the first stages, so you must do what you love in order to have the passion to keep doing it even when the going gets tough and when you are not making any profit out of it.

 

6. Network, network, network

One of the essential elements of the creative industry is networking. Find out about relevant events and make an effort to attend them. Not only will you learn more about the market, you will also meet new people who share your interests and passions. Building positive and meaningful connections with others in your industry is vitally important.

 

7. Have casual meetings with like-minded people

Whether it’s over coffee, lunch, dinner or even breakfast, meeting with others from similar industries is a great way to share ideas, discuss various topics and maybe learn new tips and market information. Supporting others in their own career goals is always a great way to build positive and healthy relationships with others in your industry. The road is always more entertaining when traveled with others.

 

8. Work in creative hubs and open spaces

Whether you choose to work from your local neighborhood cafe, head to the nearest spot of big chain coffee shops, or collaborate with others at one of the work spaces in town, it’s always better than working from home. Being a creative professional – especially when writing – can be a lonely experience. So surrounding yourself with others in an open and busy environment is the best way to go. You will also feel more motivated to work in an environment where everyone around you is working in front of their laptops or doing some sort of productive work.

 

9. Read, learn, study

Taking a short course or working towards a degree in your chosen creative field will only add to your knowledge and build up your confidence. If you can’t afford a course, simply read online articles about your topic or any topic for that matter! Staying updated with what’s happening in your industry will help keep you ahead of others and boost your knowledge levels.

 

10. Never give up!

Reaching your goals in the creative industry and getting paid for your work could be an extremely lengthy process. It could take years before you could get published or be taken seriously by potential employers. But the trick here is to never give up and to continue working hard towards your goals. Even if no one reads your blog posts, supports you or what you’re doing, or thinks that you have great ideas, you must stay fixed to your target and aim to achieve it no matter how challenging things get. Keep reminding yourself of why you chose to do this in the first place and how long it took you to get to where you are. You must fuel yourself from your own energy, ambition and inner power.

 

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University Life: Internsme Workshop

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If someone has the authority to write a blog post about internships, then I think I would be the ideal candidate. After completing a number of internships in Dubai, I believe that I deserve an award for the best intern ever 🙂

I took up several internships in publishing and advertising, working towards a smooth career change. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. That’s why I’m back to University studying journalism to gain more credibility and learn the essential skills.

When I heard about InternsME, I was delighted to know that there’s an organization that helps students find suitable internships in the area that they are interested in. This concept is a great way to facilitate getting an internship and saves the student a huge amount of time and effort. Especially since media and other creative industries are quite challenging to get into – even as an intern!

Noor, our speaker at the InternsME workshop, gave us two choices for the topics that she could talk about. The majority of us chose the topic of “interviews”. Here are the main five points that I learned from Noor’s talk:

  1. Internships are a great way to meet people from the industry and learn new things. So even if you end up doing a lot of administrative tasks during the internship, don’t forget that at the same time you are making new connections from the industry and learning new things every day.
  2. Internships that offer the best experience are most likely unpaid. When I asked Noor whether the internships at InternsME were paid or unpaid. She explained to us that they offer both paid and unpaid ones. But the ones that offer the better experience and exposure (bigger companies) are usually unpaid.
  3. You should never pay any person or organization to get you an internship. I believe this advise goes for getting employment as well. It’s a well-known fact that you shouldn’t have to pay in order to get a position or to intern at an organization.
  4. In an interview, when asked a question that you can’t think of an immediate answer to, it is fine to tell the interviewer: “I need to think about it for a while.” It’s better to be honest than to be hasty and say the wrong thing.
  5. After the interview, send an e-mail to the person who interviewed you to thank them for their time and end it with: I look forward to hearing from you. Don’t be too assertive and say things like: when will I hear back if I’m successful? They probably still have to interview a number of candidates after you, and will get back to you once they are done with the process.

 

To register with InternsME and receive updates about internships that match your area of interest, simply go to their web site and fill in your details. I know I will use their services sometime soon. Possibly next semester – when I have less course work load.

Good Luck and have fun interning 🙂

 

V-Day with The Committee Dubai!

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Some of you might remember the first meeting I had with this wonderful group of ladies. You can read all about it here if you missed that post.

This month, I had the honor to be invited to the group’s third networking event which was held at the newly opened and uber cool Cargo restaurant and lounge. The theme for the evening was a Valentine’s one, and we were all dressed in red to match the warm and lovely occasion. Despite not having a single red-colored outfit in my overly packed and cluttered wardrobe, and not having enough time to shop prior to the dinner, I managed to get my hands on a cute flower hair pin…I also put on my party-mode dark red lipstick and matched that with a “perfect red” shade of nail polish 🙂

 

Araceli from What I just Love the Blog and I
Araceli from What I just Love the Blog and I

 

Cargo is an Asian fusion place with a cool industrial-look modern interior. The restaurant is located at the third floor of the Pier 7 complex at Dubai Marina. This means that you get a panoramic view of the marina promenade and the surrounding area from the spacious terrace. What I liked about Cargo is its contemporary and eclectic edge. It’s not your typical Asian eatery; the place offers a super chilled and hip vibe…where you can enjoy tasty Asian fusion dishes while unwinding after a long day at work.

It’s also a great place to catch up with friends or go to for a romantic and casual dinner.

 

Spicy Edamame Beans
Spicy Edamame Beans

 

Just like our first event, The Committee Dubai members had a fun night out catching up and discussing all sorts of topics. The meetup also gave us the opportunity to network with professionals from media-related industries and bloggers.

I’m truly honored to be part of this group of dynamic, independent and intelligent women. The Committee Dubai is hosted by the lovely and sweet Anita Buys.

Signing off with some photos from our Valentine’s dinner at this Asian fusion hangout with a twist…

 

Nada from Undefined Declarations
Nada from Undefined Declarations

 

Cargo at Pier 7 Dubai Marina
Cargo at Pier 7 Dubai Marina

 

Bloggers United
Bloggers United

 

Anita Buys and I
Anita Buys and I

 

Fun V-Day Theme!
Fun V-Day Theme!

 

 

 

 

 

Motivational Evening at Katsuya Dubai Mall: Media in the Making

Media in the Making Event
Media in the Making Event

 

I was delighted and honored to be invited to a social event hosted by the lovely Anita Buys at the newly opened Katsuya restaurant in Dubai Mall. The dinner event brought together 15 career-driven women from alternative areas and saw us conversing over many interesting and media-relevant topics. I must say that my favorite topic of discussion that evening was the one involving comparison between journalists and bloggers. Being a blogger and journalism student myself, I constantly face the dilemma of choosing between being a full-time blogger or journalist. As I’m still unsure which one of those career paths will open more doors for me. Listening to views from more experienced media professionals and bloggers definitely helped give me an extra insight into both worlds.

Anita and I would love to meet more inspirational women from the media industry and hear more success stories in Anita’s future events. So if you work in PR/events/print media/online media/blogging or any other relevant industry and would like to join us in the next Media in the Making event, please contact Anita on her e-mail address:

[email protected]

Have a look at some photos from our wonderful and inspirational evening at Katsuya Dubai Mall

 

Nada from Undefined Declarations Blog and the lovely Anita Buys
Nada from Undefined Declarations Blog and the lovely Anita Buys

 

A Blogger's Essential Habit: Taking Pictures!
A Blogger’s Essential Habit: Taking Pictures!

 

Beautiful Outdoor Terrace at Katsuya Dubai Mall
Beautiful Outdoor Terrace at Katsuya Dubai Mall

 

Amazing view of the Dubai Mall Fountain and Souk Al Bahar
Amazing view of the Dubai Mall Fountain and Souk Al Bahar

 

Refreshing and Tasty Mock-tails!
Refreshing and Tasty Mock-tails!

 

Delicious Canapes
Delicious Canapes

 

Hollywood Rolls - SIMPLY DIVINE!
Hollywood Rolls – SIMPLY DIVINE!

 

Cod Fillet in a Teriyaki Sauce
Cod Fillet in a Teriyaki Sauce

 

Interesting and engaging discussion at Media in the Making dinner
Interesting and engaging discussion at Media in the Making dinner

 

Nada from Undefined Declarations Blog Enjoying the Evening at Katsuya
Nada from Undefined Declarations Blog Enjoying the Evening at Katsuya

 

Prior to this amazing evening at Katsuya Dubai Mall, I have been to this Japanese dining hub with my American friend from LA. My friend who is a big fan of Katsuya and has been to many of their U.S. branches, has been waiting impatiently for the Dubai Mall branch to open. So once I found out that it was officially open, we went there for lunch on their first official opening day. I’ll be writing a review on that great lunch that I had with my friend Nia on that first opening day soon. So stay tuned for that.

In the end, I would like to thank the lovely and dynamic Anita Buys for organizing and hosting this event. Special thanks to the friendly and welcoming team at Katsuya Dubai Mall for their warm and generous hospitality that evening.

 

Signing off with a note to say that all dreams are achievable and that everything is possible with a little bit of determination, hard work and optimism.  Add to that: a lot of patience 🙂

 

Cool Bag!
Cool Bag!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lynx Networking at The Dek!

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At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to attend the Lynx networking night titled: The Creative Club Party; which was basically a prequel to the main Lynx Awards Ceremony taking place tonight. After enquiring by e-mail if it was possible to attend the networking event only, and not be registered as a delegate or attend the day seminars, I was informed that: “the event is very popular and so is only open to registered delegates.”  So, I immediately dismissed the idea of going to the event, until a lady at the Media Mondays’ event commented that it shouldn’t be a problem for you to get in, since the event is held at a hotel venue.

I still wasn’t too keen on getting dressed up and showing up at the door, and risk not being allowed into the event. But then a friend suggested to go and give it a try and then let me know if he faced any problems in getting in. And so he did, and he was allowed in. That’s when I dressed up in a casual business style in a cream tweed-like jacket and a black A-cut shaped skirt that was above the knee. Luckily, my hair was done the previous day for the Media Mondays event, and so after a quick fix and wearing a head band, I was ready to go. (Well, that’s the brief version, of course there was make-up application, ironing my skirt, and wearing jewelry and perfume).

As my friend and I arrived at the funky and graffiti decorated “The Dek on 8” at Media One hotel in the heart of Dubai Media City, we immediately started putting our networking skills into the test. Still acting on the high impulse and drive from the previous night’s Media Mondays event, we went up to random individuals and started to introduce ourselves and have a casual discussion with them. The only problem being that this event wasn’t actually designed for doing that!  As we approached people to start a conversation with them, we were confronted by looks of surprise and sometimes arrogance as to what we were exactly doing 🙂  Having interned at a multi-national advertising agency in Dubai over a year ago, I wasn’t the slightest bit surprised of the responses we got.

Yes, I was highly familiar with the ad agency types…I can’t generalize though. I was very delighted to meet some genuine and good friends from my internship days at JWT Dubai. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up and discuss general topics. I was even impressed that some of them could remember me after such a long time of me leaving the agency. I always thought that people who worked at ad agencies had super powers to be able to work for extra long hours, and still manage to wake up early the next day and be at the office on time!  I think I could learn a lot from them on work ethics and loving what you do and having undying passion for it.

To make the picture more clear to you readers, last night when I was approaching random people at “The Dek on 8”, I felt as if I was the star of an episode of the popular MTV British reality TV show: Plain Jane. For any of you who are not familiar with the show, the series basically takes a different plain Jane girl each week and with the help of British fashion expert Louise Roe, transforms her into a more confident and stylish lady before going out on a romantic date with her secret crush. (I know, very teenage thing to watch – I do enjoy it though!).  So in the same way as plain Jane would have to overcome her shyness and approach strange guys at the beach or any other public place and start a casual conversation with them, I found myself going up to random people and introducing myself and chatting them up.  Except that the show wasn’t directed or produced by a TV network! It was my own life and I was the sole actor, director and producer 🙂

I can proudly say that although the event wasn’t exactly created for exchanging business cards or meeting new people, me and my friend still managed to meet a good number of people throughout the night. We had a good time and laughed our way out of awkward moments. But the most important thing is that we didn’t let anything or anyone discourage us or get in the way of our own networking agenda.

Let’s put it this way: we helped get The Creative Club Party started 😉

 

 

 

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Media Mondays: The Sequel :)

The venue: Kempinski Palm Jumeirah
The venue: Kempinski Palm Jumeirah

 

 

If you haven’t yet heard of or attended the UAE’s biggest media networking event: Media Mondays, then you truly are missing out on something valuable. The networking event is held quarterly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and brings together working professionals from all areas of the media industry.

The event offers an open networking platform where individuals can approach one another in a casual, laid-back atmosphere and introduce themselves while discussing business or general topics. It’s a great opportunity to promote your business, your services, or your skills.  It’s also a good way to make new business contacts and get referrals for whatever job/business lead you are looking for.

I personally have made some good friends at the previous Media Mondays that I have attended. If you missed out on my earlier post, you can read all about it here.  This time, the venue chosen for the event was the spectacular Kempinski Hotel at the beautiful Palm Jumeirah. The weather was perfect for an outdoor gathering, and the crowd was a lot much bigger than last time. The buzzing atmosphere, cool breeze, and chilled vibe made for an amazing night under the stars of the clear Dubai sky.

Although I managed to meet a good number of remarkably interesting and exceptional individuals, I would have liked to meet and speak to even more people at the event. That’s why I have two points to consider for my next Media Mondays event:

  1. I plan to attend the event from the time it starts; to make the most out of the networking opportunities it has to offer.
  2. I will try to spend less time at each networking session; to be able to meet a larger number of people. (although this might not be easy, especially when some one is talking about an interesting topic or giving you insight that you need).

For anyone who has missed this year’s first Media Mondays event, don’t worry there will be many more to come. Just keep your eye on the event’s page and make sure you show up with a smile and a stack of business cards 🙂

http://www.mediamondays.com/#home

 

 

Prize Giveaways at Media Mondays
Prize Giveaways at Media Mondays