The Middle East prides itself on being a region that has adopted the latest standards and formats in the production and broadcast world. Take a look at Saudi TV, twofour54, Abu Dhabi Media Company, Dubai Media Inc, Al Jazeera Network (even its children’s channel) or even, Oman TV, which recently issued a tender to build a massive HD broadcast station.
Each of these state-run organisations are telling examples of how far governments are willing to go to ensure they have the latest state-of-the-art technologies in place to run their media organisations.
However, there has always been one big missing feature as a result of which the media world in the Middle East has never ever been whole. To bring the puzzle together, we desperately need high-quality Arabic content. This issue has continuously reared its head and while a few organisations have been attempting to do something on this front, we have not seen anything concrete come out yet.
Two organisations that are seriously seeking to address this issue are twofour54 in Abu Dhabi and the Arab Producers Union in Cairo. While the former is state-funded, the latter is the initiative of a few individuals from the industry who have given up their jobs as full-time directors and producers to pursue the more important goal of bringing together Arab production houses from across the Middle East and North African region to put their heads together to co-produce content worthy of both regional and international distribution.
We already see production houses in the region gradually raising the bar in terms of what they can do.
The concepts are just as whacky and creative as in any other part of the world. However, the execution is the problem. We sorely lack the talent, the DoPs, the stunt men, the fire effects specialists and what not to get a job done. They always have to be imported from another country to do the job.
It’s the same with Arab productions. The stories are there; but the execution of the stories is sorely wanting. The Arab world is teeming with stories that have never been told on screen before. If we insist on tackling socially relevant topics, we must do so more creatively. But the Arab world has a rich history repelete with tales of love and war. It has all the elements that make for engaging content, which we must seek to bring to the small screen.
High-quality Arabic content is what we must pursue in the coming years!