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State of the industry

by Roger Field on Sep 18, 2017

Fast rising levels of local production offer hope for the Middle East region’s production and broadcast industry.
Fast rising levels of local production offer hope for the Middle East region’s production and broadcast industry.

In terms of the overall business climate, Ismail does not see any significant changes in the next 12 months. “As long as the region is occupied in wars, there will be no real stability and no major changes to the climate. The broadcast business is affected by the entire economic situation in the region.”

Despite this Ismail is optimistic about prospects in the region, with “technology advancing in a very exciting direction”. 

“We have been improving our product offering and are providing more advanced solutions that are in-line with where the technology is headed. As we expand our offerings, we are thinking and working with the technological advancements like virtualisation, cloud services and Video over IP,” he adds.

In terms of geography, recent regional political changes have created certain political and business challenges. As a way of overcoming these challenges, cloud-based services could create new business opportunities in affected countries, Ismail suggests.

For Darren Frearson, vice president of sales, EMEA and APAC, GatesAir, the main challenges in the region have been a combination of instability in the political arena and the drop in the oil price, which affected the decision-making process and has pushed a number of large projects out further into the future.

However, Frearson also sees signs of recovery in the region. “We are seeing something of a recovery from the financial crash we saw in the Middle East over recent times due to the reduced oil prices. Business is still not back to ‘normal’, however we are seeing positive moves and adjustments in government budgets,” he said. “We have started seeing positive moves in the last six months, and expect more positive outcomes in the coming year.”

While the recent trend in the region in general has been for projects to be pushed back, the opposite now appears to be the case in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Clients in these countries have, according to Frearson, been “noticeably active” with large projects being awarded. This gives much reason for optimism, given that these two countries are big indicators of the activity in the region.

Blackmagic Design, a manufacturer and provider of production equipment and services, also has an upbeat take on the market. Stuart Ashton, director, Blackmagic Design EMEA, takes a pragmatic approach to the region and accepts that it requires a different strategy from Europe.

“The Middle East has always been a region that develops at its own pace, whether it be the rapid development and integration of new technology 10 years ago, or the more calculated approach of recent times,” he says. “One thing for certain is our activity and engagement in the Middle East has always required its own specific strategy that doesn’t necessarily mirror that of the European market. We have been very fortunate though to have an excellent distributor in the UAE that shares our values of developing and supporting creative people that has seen us grow organically.”

Ashton sees plenty of opportunities for growth in the Middle East. “The awareness around our products continually develops and as we delve deeper into the region we are finding there is more and more opportunity. We are seeing new emerging markets, and countries that have previously been inaccessible are excited by what Blackmagic can now offer them. As these countries develop and resellers emerge we expect the grey import markets will reduce in favour of local partners that can offer greater added value.”

In terms of content production, the challenges faced are very different from those faced by manufacturers and broadcasters. Reim El Houni, owner of production company Ti22 Films, said her team has seen the market change significantly during the past year. “Clients are looking for new solutions and specifically new ways of reaching their audiences on digital platforms. It also feels like clients are moving at a slower pace and taking longer to make decisions,” she says.


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