Mona Al Marri (centre), Vice Chairperson and Managing Director of the Dubai Media Council and President of the Dubai Press Club, witnessing the signing of the agreement by Dr Maitha Buhumaid (right), Director of the Dubai Press Club, and Basel Anabtawi (left), CEO of Rising Giants Network Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Dubai Press Club (DPC) on Monday announced the ‘Arab Podcasters’ programme to foster the growth of the podcasting industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council, the second edition of Dubai PodFest brought together stakeholders across the sector to share strategies, ideas and solutions for accelerating the growth of the Arab world’s podcasting sector.

The programme, launched at the Dubai PodFest 2022 held at the Dubai Press Club on Monday, seeks to accelerate the growth of the sector by introducing initiatives that address various drivers of industry development including technology, capacity building, public-private partnerships and industry events.

Mona Al Marri, Vice Chairperson and Managing Director of the Dubai Media Council and President of the Dubai Press Club, said: “As part of the Dubai Press Club’s efforts to nurture the growth and development of various media sectors, we seek to provide the comprehensive support necessary for the burgeoning podcasting industry to unlock its full potential. With consumers in the region showing increased interest in audio content, the region’s podcasting industry has significant prospects for growth.”

She added: “Today, podcasts are increasingly becoming one of the most trusted mediums for people to consume content within the region. The ‘Arab Podcasters’ programme seeks to accelerate digital audio content trends that have been gaining ground over the previous few years and further enhance excellence in all aspects of the podcasting sector. The programme will consolidate Dubai’s position as a key market for podcasting and the leading hub for digital media and audio content production in the Arab world.”

Mentors for professionals

As part of implementing the programme, the Dubai Press Club has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Rising Giants Network (RGN) to collaborate in launching programmes to support the MENA podcasting industry. The Dubai Press Club and RGN will work together to organise workshops aimed at providing media professionals with technical support to enhance their podcasts. The planned workshops also aim to enable media personnel to stay abreast of the latest technologies, developments and trends in the podcasting industry, and provide the research, support and expertise needed to build a large following in the region and beyond.

Dr Maitha Buhumaid, Director of the Dubai Press Club, said: “The second edition of Dubai PodFest held today [Monday] represents our keenness to support the development of a vibrant podcasting community in the MENA region and provide both established and aspiring podcasters with opportunities to upskill, grow, raise their visibility and expand their reach. Building on the success of Dubai PodFest, the ‘Arab Podcasters’ programme will promote close cooperation with various stakeholders in the sector like [RGN] to create the dynamic ecosystem necessary for the emerging sector to grow and thrive. The MoU with RGN is also part of our efforts to tap synergies and advance cooperation between private and public sector stakeholders in order to catalyse podcasting growth in the region.”

During a session at the event Image Credit: Supplied

Podcasts from the UAE

Basel Anabtawi, CEO of Rising Giants Network, said the company’s MoU with the Dubai Press Club is an important step to support content creators in UAE. The main goal of the agreement is to produce podcasts from the UAE for a global audience, he said. Anabtawi expressed his appreciation for the pivotal role played by the Dubai Press Club in supporting talent, media professionals and content creators, as well as providing a fertile environment for creativity in all its forms.

Anabtawi said the Dubai PodFest held by the Dubai Press Club annually celebrates podcasters from all over the Arab world as well as key individuals and institutions contributing to the growth of the sector. He stressed that such initiatives are vital to developing talent and entrepreneurship and raising quality benchmarks in the podcasting industry.

Programme tasks

One of the key focuses of the ‘Arab Podcasters’ programme is to organise events that will provide platforms for all stakeholders in the podcasting industry to share knowledge and perspectives, discuss new ideas and network with their peers in the sector. The events will seek to promote enterprise, learning, innovation, and content excellence in the podcasting industry.

Another major focus of the Dubai Press Club initiative is to impart the knowledge and skills required for both established and emerging podcasters to succeed. Capitalising on the success of Dubai PodFest workshops aimed at enhancing the podcasting capabilities of audio content creators and media professionals, the ‘Arab Podcasters’ programme aims to organise learning forums, seminars and conferences that will equip the region’s content creators with the skills and tools required to develop themselves and garner a large following.

As part of the programme, the Dubai Press Club will also work to raise the profile of regional podcasters through its social media platforms. DPC will bring together a range of podcasting experts, successful content creators and industry-leading professionals to share knowledge and insights on diverse technical and creative topics including new podcasting technologies, scriptwriting, branding, marketing, profile building and audience engagement.

New podcast channels

The second edition of Dubai PodFest, the region’s largest gathering of podcasters, also witnessed the launch of four new podcast channels targeted at a regional audience. The new channels launched with the support of Dubai Press Club are part of a series of initiatives aimed at spurring the growth of the Arab world’s podcasting sector and reinforcing Dubai’s position as a key media and digital content production hub.

The newly-launched podcast channels include ‘Dubai Originals’ , ‘Annahar’, ‘Istikana’ and ‘Min Alb Joelle’.

Al Marri said that guided by the directives of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council, Dubai Press Club is keen to forge constructive partnerships with leading media institutions across the Arab world. These partnerships form part of DPC’s commitment to encourage public-private sector cooperation that can help accelerate digital media development. Dubai’s world-class technology infrastructure provides the ideal base for the audio content industry to raise their competitiveness and quality benchmarks, she noted.

“Dubai Press Club’s support for the new channels is aligned with our vision for media industry development as well as our strategy to nurture the development of high-quality audio content in the Arab world. The launch of the channels at Dubai PodFest, reflects Dubai’s commitment to provide the support necessary for digital media entrepreneurs and creatives to thrive. Dubai strongly believes in the media’s role in both advancing economic growth and promoting social and cultural development.”

Participants from the UAE and region during the second edition of the gathering in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Success story

A premium channel for podcasts and video talk shows, ‘Dubai Originals’ was launched by the region’s leading creative and multimedia production hub JBM Studio. The channel will tell the stories behind the city’s remarkable successes in various spheres and its rise as a destination for talent and visionary entrepreneurs. It will also highlight Dubai’s growing global profile as the city of the future.

Furthermore, Dubai Originals podcasts will feature developments in vital industries driving Dubai’s dynamic economy and explore its exciting cultural landscape. The channel will also feature interviews with personalities in diverse areas including the arts, music, youth, sports, entertainment, entrepreneurship, food, technology, innovation, health and wellness.

Benjamin Monie, Co-Founder of JBM Studio, said: “Dubai Originals is purely dedicated to sharing the incredible people and experiences that make Dubai such an eclectic epicentre of wonder. The original content that will be produced for Dubai Originals will give people around the world an in-depth look into the culture of Dubai and its future-thinking mindset and will be a celebration of the people and happenings that make it a hub of possibility.”

“In just 50 years, Dubai has become home to an endless amount of amazing people, events, projects and businesses and the unique stories that lie within these success stories deserve a platform to be shared with the world. Dubai Originals will do just that,” Monie added.

Raising excellence

Lebanon’s Annahar Media Corporation launched a podcast channel designed to expand and deepen its content offering, consolidating its status as a leading player in the Lebanese media sector.

Nayla Tueni, Chairman and CEO of Annahar Media Corporation, said she is proud of her organisation’s long-standing partnership with the Dubai Press Club. The launch of the Dubai office of ‘Annahar Al Arabi’ news platform earlier this year has contributed to further strengthening ties between the two organisations and enhanced Annahar Media Corporation’s contributions to raising excellence in Arab media, she noted.

Tueni said that the new channel will feature daily and weekly news content covering local, regional and global issues in areas ranging from politics and society to the economy and the arts. “Annahar looks forward to developing high-quality content that contributes to sharing knowledge in the Arab region and enriching the podcasting industry,” she said.

Youth-focused content

The Dubai PodFest also saw the launch of ‘Istikana’, the first official podcast of the Arabian Radio Network (ARN), the region’s largest radio network. The programme, aimed at producing content that can inspire the region’s youth, will feature conversations with leading decision-makers from various sectors and human-interest stories drawn from around the Arab world.

Targeted at Arab youth across, the weekly podcast, to be presented by journalist Abdullah Salem, and offered across digital platforms, will be produced at ARN’s state-of-the-art studio located at its headquarters in Dubai Media City.

Mahmoud Al Rasheed, General Manager of the Arabian Radio Network (ARN), expressed his appreciation to HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed for his support for the media industry, which has encouraged ARN to continuously innovate and keep pace with the latest global trends. As a leading Emirati radio network, ARN is committed to further developing its media content offering and will be launching an English-language version of the ‘Istikana’ podcast in the near future.

A multimedia platform, ARN broadcasts daily in six languages through nine of its radio stations, targeting listeners of over 200 nationalities.

Podcast for women

Lebanese TV show host, entrepreneur and makeup artist Joelle Mardinian also launched her podcast during Dubai PodFest, in collaboration with Rising Giants Network, a story-telling company focused on scripting, producing, and building immersive podcast experiences. The podcast will focus on discussing issues concerning women and the greatest challenges they face. ‘Min Alb Joelle’ will feature experts, including psychologists and life coaches with the objective of empowering women in the Arab world and enhancing their awareness on various key topics.

Joelle Mardinian said she is proud to launch her podcast during the Dubai PodFest, a leading event dedicated to podcasting in the region. She expressed her appreciation to Dubai Press Club for its efforts to develop the region’s media and enhance the podcasting sector. “I’m extremely happy to be launching ‘Min Alb Joelle’, which will be mainly dedicated to sharing knowledge and insightful stories with women in the region. Each episode will cover various issues that are rarely discussed in the Arab world,” she said.


The event also featured two training workshops aimed at building the podcasting capabilities of audio content creators and media professionals in the region.

The workshops, led by Podeo, one of the Arab world’s largest podcasting platforms, and Sowt, a leading independent podcast production company in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, were held as part of Dubai Press Club’s (DPC) efforts to equip content creators with the skills and tools required to excel in the field. The training sessions targeted two groups - established podcasters and media professionals aspiring to be podcasters.

Dr Maitha said that as organisers of the Dubai PodFest, Dubai Press Club was keen to ensure the event’s attendees were able to benefit from the experiences of leading industry players. “The workshops provided another invaluable platform for dialogue on the latest podcasting trends and the various elements that go into producing a compelling podcast. This year’s Dubai PodFest sought to bring together seasoned media professionals to share their outlook for the podcasting sector and support Arab audio content creators in establishing themselves in the field,” she said.

Mahfoudha Saleh, Manager, Programme Development and Media Training, and Manager of Dubai PodFest, said: “The workshops organised at Dubai PodFest 2022 are part of DPC’s efforts to nurture the skills of audio content creators and media professionals in the field of podcasting. We are pleased to have collaborated with two leading players in the podcasting industry to host the two workshops, which provided great insights and tips on how participants can launch a successful podcast.”

One of the workshops titled ‘Creating a Podcast’ took participants through a step-by-step guide for creating and promoting a successful podcast. Led by Rodolph Hilal, Chief Content Officer at Podeo, the session provided key tips on initiating a podcast, identifying the right tone of voice, writing the script and creating the optimal branding for greater visibility.

Another workshop, led by Ramsey Etsell, CEO of Sowt Media, provided insights into the experience provided by the independent podcast platform and how its podcasts became popular in the region. The session, titled ‘How to Grow Your Podcast to One Million Downloads’, addressed four areas - brand building, publishing, marketing and analytics. Participants gained a deeper understanding of strategies to build a loyal audience and other aspects such as the frequency and timing of podcasts and the types of content best suited to different social media platforms.

The second edition of Dubai PodFest 2022 discussed the future of podcasting and new approaches for developing audio content into a compelling and financially sustainable product. Dubai PodFest 2022 also explored fresh strategies to accelerate the growth of podcasting in the region and the role of media organisations in supporting the industry’s development.

About Dubai PodFest

The region’s largest annual gathering of podcasters, Dubai PodFest, organised by the Dubai Press Club, brings together stakeholders across the sector to share strategies, ideas and solutions for accelerating the growth of the Arab world’s podcasting sector. Aligned with Dubai’s vision to be a city of the future and a hub for digital media development, the event features leading podcasters, audio content creators and representatives of podcasting and audio blogging companies. Dubai PodFest is one of a series of media initiatives launched by the Dubai Press Club to advance Arab media growth and enhance digital content excellence.