Lou Hammond & Assocs. has inked a two-year contract to drive awareness in the US and Canada about the tourism attractions offered by Dubai.

The US ranks as Dubai’s No. 6 source market, while Canada checks in at No. 18.

Dubai Corp. for Tourism and Commerce Marketing’s RFP lists the key barriers to visiting the emirate.

They include perceptions that it is unsafe as part of the “Middle East” box, artificial with no culture or heritage, and overly expensive. There also are concerns about Dubai’s poor human rights record.

Lou Hammond’s agreement calls for brand positioning, establishment of an always-on press office, fam/press trips, content partnerships, “out-of-the-box” activations, media monitoring and crisis management.

The PR firm has an eight-member Dubai team, which includes the presidents of its Charleston office (Gina Stouffer), New York (Terry Gallagher), Atlanta (Carter Long), and Toronto (Charmaine Singh).

The contract stipulates that Stephen Hammond or any subsequent CEO of the firm, shall be available to Dubai, as when reasonably required, to access the progress of the effort.

Lou Hammond’s annual fee is capped at $325K.