Dubai Podfest
Mona Al Marri, President of Dubai Press Club said the Dubai PodFest reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Image Credit: Twitter/Dubai Media Office

Dubai: The Dubai Press Club held the inaugural edition of Dubai PodFest, the first event of its kind dedicated to podcasting in the region.

The event held under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council featured the participation of a number of prominent podcasters, audio content creators and leading organisations in the industry.

Mona Al Marri, President of Dubai Press Club said the Dubai PodFest reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai over two decades ago to establish DPC as a platform for advancing Arab media development.”

She added: “As part of our efforts to support Dubai’s vision to embrace the latest advancements in the media sector, DPC is keen to support the development of the Arab podcasting sector and enhance its reach and impact globally. Events like these are critical for generating new insights on accelerating the sector’s growth in the region.”

Al Marri stressed the importance of strengthening the growth of the sector and further enhancing the quality of podcasting content in the region.

Speaking to Gulf News, Maitha Buhumaid, director of Dubai Press Club said the inaugural event will explore the future of podcasting in the region and the growth opportunities available in the sector. “We are also highlighting the experiences of various podcasters from across the Arab world to discuss their roles in promoting positive content and inspirational stories.”

The event brought together more than 200 prominent podcasters and audio content creators, in addition to leading organisations in the sector.

Claudius Boller - Spotify Managing Director for Middle East and North Africa said podcasts have turned into the right medium to reach new audiences across the world and in the region as well. “Spotify is home to over 3.2 million podcasts and we are dedicated to building the world's largest audio network and enabling everyone to create audio.”

Tamim Fares - Head of strategy and Operations for Middle East and Africa said a recent survey by Spotify revealed Gen Zs and millennials in the UAE are leveraging podcasts, embracing diversity, and ultimately becoming the ‘Curation Generations.’

Boller said that in the UAE, audio was perceived as a stress-reliever, where 69 per cent of millennials and 58 per cent of Gen Zs use audio to reduce their stress levels. “Besides, 61 per cent of Gen Zs feel “more centered and generally happier” when listening to their favorite music on a daily basis. 68 per cent of UAE-based millennials see audio as a mental health resource. There is a growing listening average in podcasts related to mental health, alternative health, and spirituality.”

Spotify currently has 381 million users, including 172 million subscribers, across 178 markets. The premium subscription costs Dh19.99 monthly. The Spotify premium family costs Dh31.99.

More numbers

Boller said that in the UAE, 73 per cent of millennials and 54 per cent of Gen Zs believe that streaming platforms in general, including audio, have significantly shaped in the way they discover and connect to the culture as a whole. He said 64 per cent of millennials in the UAE and 46 per cent of Gen Zs in the UAE have used music as a way to discover cultures and experiences different from their own. “What is also interesting is that a little over half of the millennials and 46 per cent of Gen Zs in UAE have made a friend who lives in another country through music or podcasts.”

Gen Zs searching for diverse creators and podcasts in UAE

Fares said 62 per cent of millennials and 43 per cent of Gen Zs in the UAE searched for more content from diverse creators and podcasts last year. “What is empowering to know is that more than half of UAE Gen Zs believe they have more freedom than previous generations to express their authenticity.”

Boller said that audio is playing a major part in their culture.

Three sessions held at the event

Participants in the first session of the event, titled ‘The Future of Podcasting’, discussed ways to widen the audience for podcasting and the challenges facing podcasting in the region, such as being able to monetise podcasts.

A panel discussion titled ‘New Avenues for Content Creators’, saw participants sharing their insights on the opportunities available for content creators in the MENA region. The third session titled ‘Podcast Platforms’ discussed the distribution of ad revenues among podcasters and podcast platforms and the key marketing tools available to maximise reach and income.

In the coming period, Dubai Edition will feature a variety of interviews and talk shows with prominent figures in the Dubai community, organised by Dubai Press Club and Brand Dubai, the creative arm of the Government of Dubai Media Office.