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Dubai Media City, Dubai. Photo: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News Image Credit:

Dubai: Having spearheaded Dubai’s growth as a regional leader in the media sector, Dubai's media business clusters are set to further boost the emirate’s ambitious strategy for the media and content industry, the chief of the media business districts has said.

Dubai’s efforts in the media landscape, both locally and regionally, have resulted in the emirate being selected as the Arab Media Capital 2020. Media outlets and professionals here only need to adapt themselves to the transformations in the media landscape and grab new opportunities to overcome the challenges, said Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director of Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, and Dubai Production City – members of TECOM Group.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News ahead of a mega media festival ON.DXB next month, Al Suwaidi delved into the strategy aimed at attracting media talent as well as empowering them to create content, especially in Arabic.

Achieving the recognition from the Arab League as the Arab Media Capital is one of the milestones towards making Dubai a leading city in the media field, he said.

How Dubai Media City stays ahead of changing media landscape Logan Fish, Videographer, Sajila Saseendran, Senior Reporter

“We have been working very hard to put Dubai on the media map and as part of the strategy that was set 20 years ago by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.”

Established in 2001, the DMC is home to 2,100 companies and 34,500 employees, including many Fortune 500 companies from around the world. Renowned global media firms such as CNN, Thomson Reuters, and the BBC have their regional headquarters in DMC.

“We have the largest number of media companies in the region,” said Al Suwaidi, “We spanned into many different sectors. We have grown quite a bit since we started. Earlier our aim was to attract companies and that aim has been achieved and we are still attracting more companies into DMC. Nevertheless, our focus is now to develop it into creating a stronger media economy.”

Significance of the media sector

The significance of the media sector comes from the volume of the advertising market in the UAE, which amounts to $2.051 billion (Dh7.527 billion). The latest Arab Media Outlook estimated that the media market in the UAE in 2018 to be about $2.2 billion (Dh8 billion). The country has the highest level of spending media per capita compared to the rest of the region. The per capita GDP is $ 48,108 000 (AED 176,5000).

Al Suwaidi said the current strategy focuses on supporting the Arab youth for new media content creation and attracting local talent and investment in the various media sectors, especially the booming sector of gaming and the popular field of movies.

Talking about the changing media scene, he said: “The media landscape is changing and it is not similar to what it was earlier. From traditional newspapers and magazines, you have moved to digital, you have got the short form and the long form and you have got social media, so many different aspects to media itself. And this resulted in us also transforming and trying to adapt to the change that is happening to the landscape.”

“Nevertheless, we are pushing hard and hard every year and trying to develop the infrastructure that would work with all media companies. So, whether you are a multinational company or whether you are a small company trying to make your way through the media landscape, you will definitely find that our environment today is very conducive for growth and development.”

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Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Majed Al Suwaidi – Managing Director of Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City and Dubai Production City during an interview with Gulf News. Photo:

Extending beyond the region

He said the DMC is playing an important role regionally too. “We are not just looking after Dubai or the UAE. Our companies today play a regional role and even extend from the region. Not only the closer region. [In] North Africa and the [Indian] subcontinent, there are a lot of areas that are covered out of Dubai now. That in itself has played a very important role to put Dubai on the [global] media map.”

Al Suwaidi cited smooth online registration processes and high ease of doing business as the plus points of DMC. “Also, our limits are always being challenged and pushed by the leadership and the country.”

On the other hand, he said, Dubai Studio City has been hosting workshops for amateur and professional filmmakers to develop media and film production capabilities in the UAE within production, photography, direction and related fields.

The workshops were held in collaboration with UAE Production House "Behind the Scenes" and were held at the IN5 Media Center, the Dubai Production City Innovation Center, which supports entrepreneurs and startups in the media field.

Dubai Studio City also launched CineMENA platform, to encourage and foster content creators and local talent in the sector. It aims to encourage the creative community across the Middle East and North Africa to develop more content.

More than 2000 people have attended the free workshops through the platform, said Al Suwaidi.

Commenting about the new long term visas and visas for creative people in the UAE, Al Suwaidi said such laws and regulations will further boost the talent flow to the UAE and in turn create further opportunities of growth and new avenues to create more content.

“The impact of such initiatives has great benefits to develop the media sector,” he pointed out.

“As we continue to foster and nurture talent in our community, we also work towards attracting regional talent to Dubai through various activities and events. There is a need for these talents to continue developing new skills to adapt to ever-changing market requirements and its fast pace.”

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Majed Al Suwaidi – Managing Director of Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City and Dubai Production City during an interview with Gulf News. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Challenging economic situations

Asked about the challenging economic situations in the media sector, Al Suwaidi said: “Dubai is an international city and has an international business community. Whatever is happening around the world will have an effect here also. The economic environment is an ever-changing environment. But there is always an opportunity for people to look at. When one opportunity is closed, there are 10 others opening up. If something doesn’t work for you, there could be something else that would.”

Al Suwaidi said transformation of the print media, which has seen the growth rate dipping following the digital revolution, is a must. “They will have to come up with different strategies that fix their needs and also take into consideration their future plans. We are providing them with the right logistical requirements and with the support of knowledge about what is happening in the media sector internationally and locally so that they can learn from each other. We are here to help.”

Ground-breaking media festival

He urged the media companies and professionals to make best use of the ground-breaking industry and consumer festival for the MENA region named ON.DXB scheduled to be held from November 21 to 23.

“It will support the growth and evolution of the region’s film, game, video and music sectors and the technologies driving them. We have created the platform and we are pushing everyone and saying that this is the opportunity, go and pitch your content and let people see you.”

Dubai Media City at a glance

• Established in 2001, Dubai Media City (DMC) is one of TECOM Group’s business communities, significantly represents Dubai’s ambitious strategy for the media and content industry.

• With its state-of-the-art infrastructure and advanced business environment that stimulates innovation and creativity.

• Renowned global firms such as CNN, Thomson Reuters, and the BBC have their headquarters here.

• Established in 2001, DMC, one of TECOM Group’s business communities, is home to 2,100 companies and 34,500 employees, including many Fortune 500 companies from around the world.

• DMC supports employees and entrepreneurs within the traditional media, new media, marketing, communication, and support service sectors.

• For over 15 years, DMC has cultivated a creative community that caters to the media industry at large – from agencies and multinationals to designers and freelancers.

• In collaboration with TECOM Group and Dubai Knowledge Park, DMC launched the Gofreelance initiative – which supports freelance talent by a competitive package and simple process.

• DMC’s amphitheatre is widely regarded as a premier venue for concerts, festivals and events, attracting over 200,000 of visitors every year.

• DMC is continuously expanding its vibrant community with wide lifestyle offerings in entertainment, retail, hospitality and leisure

• In the past couple of months, DMC has launched several community-related initiatives (such as Thursday Lunch Jams, Graffiti competitions amongst many).