In the world of business, great stories often begin with a chance encounter, an unexpected spark of inspiration, or a serendipitous moment. The journey of Advanced Media Trading (AMT), the leading distributor of professional broadcast, photo, video, and broadcast equipment and accessories in the MENA, is one such story that started with a fortuitous meeting between two young men, Kaveh Farnam and Alaa Al Rantisi, back in 2002. What began as a humble idea has now blossomed into a thriving organisation built upon a solid foundation of ethical and sustainable business practices.
The genesis of AMT
The early 2000s was a time of great change and innovation in the field of media and broadcasting, and Dubai was fast becoming a hub for regional business. It was against this backdrop that Kaveh and Alaa’s paths crossed during a work meeting. Little did they know that this chance encounter would set the stage for a remarkable entrepreneurial journey. Kaveh and Alaa, both young and ambitious, saw an opportunity within the media equipment industry. They recognised that the market was on the cusp of transformation, with technology becoming more accessible and affordable. This revelation sparked their entrepreneurial spirit and laid the foundation for AMT.
Regional expansion and adaptation
AMT’s journey is marked by its ability to adapt and evolve. Initially, the company’s focus was regional, in line with the dynamics of Dubai’s vibrant business environment. The city’s reputation as a trading hub attracted people from neighbouring countries seeking a variety of products at competitive prices. “In those days, it was common for people to travel from neighbouring countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia to travel to Dubai to buy various products, not just in electronics but in every other sector. It was a given that if you come to Dubai, you will find things available in stock and you will find the best price,” observes Alaa.
Kaveh and Alaa recognised this trend and aligned their initial business strategy accordingly. However, as the years passed, they realised the need to expand their horizons beyond Dubai. The evolving media landscape and the changing nature of content creation played a significant role in this decision. The company understood that, with the growth of new media channels and a shift towards more affordable content creation tools, the market’s dynamics were changing.
With these insights in mind, AMT ventured into new territories. In 2019, the company opened a branch in Saudi Arabia, capitalising on the kingdom’s burgeoning media and entertainment industry. Egypt, known for its rich history in cinema and drama, also became a focal point for expansion.
“Out of North Africa, we focused on Egypt because as you know it is a well-known hub of cinema and drama. So, we started our office in Egypt two years back,” Alaa adds. Dubai remains the hub with the company’s main warehouse being in Jebel Ali where the goods fly into. By leveraging its infrastructure in Jebel Ali, Dubai, the company ensures the availability of products and competitive pricing throughout the region. This approach has enabled AMT to bridge the gap and provide its customers with access to high-quality media equipment and services. “The Jebel Ali hub is serving the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt at the moment,” Alaa points out.
The company’s commitment to regional presence is also bolstered by its extensive dealer network, ensuring a consistent supply of high-quality equipment to countries like Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Unique work culture and community engagement
What sets AMT apart is its distinctive work culture, observes Kaveh, and he says this culture has been deeply influenced by the innovative spirit of Dubai.
“We learnt a lot from the way Dubai is growing. We are really impressed by the way the rulers think and admire them. And we have taken a lot of ideas from them,” says Kaveh. He notes that the city’s rulers have prioritised infrastructure development and that in its initial days, AMT drew inspiration from this approach. The company values infrastructure as a vital component of business success, emphasising the importance of proper warehousing, efficient shipping, effective communication, and an extensive product range.
“We learned this expansion model from Dubai, and we are really following that,” Kaveh adds.
Moreover, AMT places a strong emphasis on education and training within the media industry. The company conducts workshops, masterclasses, and educational events to equip young talent with the knowledge and skills necessary for successful content creation. AMT’s commitment to nurturing talent extends to digital cinema, where it has played a pivotal role in promoting digital technology and educating budding filmmakers on the intricacies of the digital workflow, such as the importance of camera selection, lighting, and sound.
For example, the company has organised workshops in collaboration with universities, focusing on the specific needs of students pursuing careers in independent cinema. These efforts ensure that graduates are well-prepared to enter the workforce and become valuable customers too. “We know that we have to focus on the young people,” says Kaveh. “They lead content today, not the big names anymore. So, this is our future market, and we will be focusing on them.”
The company’s events include the first Arabic edition in Riyadh called CINESeason, the first for university students in Dubai called CINESchool and the upcoming biannual digital cinema event called CINETomorrow returning on January 11, 12, and 13, 2024. At these events, participants gain hands-on experience with cutting-edge equipment and learn about the technical aspects of filmmaking. This approach has not only contributed to the growth of digital cinema but also facilitated the adoption of digital technology in the industry.
AMT’s deep connection with the community is evident in its unwavering support for young filmmakers and independent cinema. The company has been a consistent sponsor of the 48-Hour Film Competition, providing a platform for aspiring filmmakers to showcase their talents. Furthermore, AMT has been supporting the Reel Palestine annual film festival in the UAE that brings Palestinian stories to the audience.
A sustainable future
Even as it expands its presence in the region, AMT has also demonstrated a deep commitment to environmental responsibility. However, Parnian Farnam, the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at AMT is quick to point out that the firm’s dedication to sustainability is not just a corporate slogan; it’s a fundamental aspect of its ethos and daily operations.
“AMT’s commitment to sustainability is ingrained in its culture and operations,” she says, adding that the etablishment of a CSR department within AMT was not just a new venture; it was an organic evolution that reflected the company’s commitment to its core values, which had been cultivated over 21 years. The company is a proud member of the UAE Alliance for Climate Action, actively engaging with other organisations to address climate change and promote sustainability. The company’s engagement in sustainability extends beyond mere membership, says Parnian, adding that by actively participating in these discussions and aligning its practices with the principles of climate action, AMT aims to set an example for other SMEs. Incidentally, AMT is one of the first SMEs to join the alliance.
The journey of AMT is an inspiring story of how serendipity, entrepreneurship spirit, and ethical business practices came together to give birth to a great brand. What began as a chance meeting between two young men more than two decades ago has now evolved into the region’s largest supplier of media equipment. The company’s ability to adapt to changing market dynamics, its commitment to sustainability, and its active role in nurturing talent and supporting the community make AMT a shining example of responsible and sustainable business growth.