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Creativity Squared: Why Khaled Ibrahim Starts with a Blank Piece of Paper


Grey Dubai’s associate creative director shares his experience working across five different countries and how collaboration brings out the best in everyone

Creativity Squared: Why Khaled Ibrahim Starts with a Blank Piece of Paper

Having lived and worked in Toronto, Rome, Beirut and Jeddah, Grey Dubai’s associate creative director Khaled Ibrahim now makes the UAE his home. With over 14 years of experience, his passion for creativity covers art and creative direction, film editing, and travel videography. He has worked and led teams on leading global brands such as Coca-Cola, IKEA, LEGO, P&G, Pringles, Audi, Cadillac, HSBC, Emirates Airlines, and GSK.

He takes the time to share his creative process with LBB.



I was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and lived there for around ten years. One of my earliest memories is of receiving a case filled with watercolours, markers, and crayons. Using that case, I won an art competition when I was eight years old. I still remember the prize, a massive ‘Treasure Island’ LEGO set.

As an ambitious and driven individual, I’m always eager to try and experience new things.
It’s important to approach things with an open mind! I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in five countries – Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Canada, Italy, and the UAE – and visit over 40 others. Through my travels, I have been exposed to a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives, which has broadened my understanding of the world and helped me learn new things. Exploring different places and interacting with people from diverse backgrounds has given me a broader perspective of things and has encouraged me to be open to new experiences and ideas.

It’s through persistent practice and determination that I got myself to where I am today, and I am continuously refining my craft. One thing I learnt early on is that time is a crucial factor in our industry, where everything is often needed ASAP. However, if we are given a reasonable deadline, we can soar and put our heart and soul into every piece of work. 
When it comes to creativity, some individuals tend to have a natural flair and possess a natural eye for aesthetics, while others may develop their creativity through formal education or life experiences. Variety and change are essential for creativity. Routines can stifle our ability to think outside the box. To keep our creativity flowing, we should challenge ourselves with different projects and briefs. Mixing things up and breaking out of our comfort zones can spark new ideas and approaches.



When assessing an idea or work for creativity, I consider originality, impact, relevance, and execution. Originality and uniqueness mean breaking convention, while impact means engaging or inspiring the audience. Relevance is about fitting the context or industry. Finally, the execution of an idea or work is critical, as it should be skilful and detailed. 
I'm particularly proud of two recent campaigns I worked on for LEGO and IKEA. The LEGO campaign, ‘Brick the Rules’ featured a beautiful and engaging film that perfectly captured the concept. The craft was impeccable, and the result was fantastic. The other campaign is our latest IKEA Ramadan film, ‘Togetherness Assembled’. It stood out from the typical Ramadan clutter we see every year.
The creative industry is constantly evolving and producing new and exciting content. With the increasing availability of AI technology and platforms, creatives are finding new ways to connect with audiences and showcase their work.  What's frustrating is that some creatives also struggle with the pressure to produce content quickly and constantly in order to keep up with the demands of clients.


I always start out with a pen and paper. Nothing beats sticky notes for their simplicity in generating and organising ideas. Starting with a blank sheet, once I have an idea or concept, I then look into references for inspiration.

I also strongly believe in the power of teamwork, as it often leads to more significant achievements and better ideas. I love sitting down and brainstorming with my colleagues, and I'm always available for a quick brainstorming session with them. Collaborating can bring out the best in everyone. I also always find it helpful to share and collaborate with others when I am stuck on something, so I never shy away from doing so.

Collaboration between different teams can also lead to new ideas which benefit both the culture and the design. I think it’s best to allow creatives to work in ways that suit them best. By allowing for flexibility, agencies can help remove any barriers limiting creativity. Provide creatives with the necessary tools, resources, and technology to bring their ideas to life. Celebrate and acknowledge successes, both big and small, to foster a positive and supportive environment that encourages creativity.

It’s also important to provide clear and concise feedback, trust the agency, and give them the freedom and flexibility to be creative - these are among the most important pieces of advice when working with an agency. It's important to trust the agency's expertise and capabilities. And this communicative relationship works in both directions with the agency also communicating well with the client.

When I am 100% satisfied, that’s when I know a project is done!

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Grey Dubai/MENA, Tue, 02 May 2023 15:30:00 GMT