Digital Studio celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. And what a great way to celebrate this joyous occasion! We got Mike Bayman, the man behind the first issue of Digital Studio to tell us about the birth of the magazine. We also invited some of the industry's best known names and in some cases, some of the most influential people in the Arab world to share with us their plans for broadcast in their respective countries.
First up is Dr. Riyadh Najm, assistant deputy minister of engineering, MOCI, Saudi Arabia, to tell us about the key developments in the Kingdom. This is a scoop because very little is known about broadcast in the Kingdom and what the government's agenda for the future is.
Everyone knows Chris Forrester, a well known face in the media. He has regularly covered the Middle East scene and he tells us about the stories he wrote a decade ago. Likewise, we have on board Dr. Fares Lubbadeh, who has followed the Middle East broadcast scene closely since 1978 and Randa Ayoubi, the Jordanian woman who forged an alliance with MGM to develop Pink Panther and Pals for an international audience.
We also invited several vendors to give us their take on technology developments in their specific areas of expertise. To round it off, we had Roger Crumpton of the IABM share with us his views on where the broadcast industry is heading.
The last four years have seen exceptional growth within the Middle East broadcast industry with the region having more than 370 free to air channels, up from 263 in October 2006.
But the best is yet to come. The trend now seems to be film festivals. Already, several regional entities are encouraging the production of more local cinema with the Dubai International Film Festival, Middle East Film Festival in Abu Dhabi, the Baghdad Film Fest and the inaugural Gulf Film Festival next year.
Additionally, more Hollywood and Bollywood productions are looking at Dubai as an ideal locale for shooting. Between January and June 2007, we hear that Dubai's Location Approval Services processed 400 applications for shoots here. In December 2008, expect to see Phase one of Dubai Studio City ready.
Despite these developments, there are some issues that need to be addressed clearly such as media censorship and copyright as well as how IPTV and Mobile TV will develop here. This region has come so far and yet, there are new challenges ahead. Like Geoff Stedman of Omneon pointed out: "The past decade has seen a tremendous evolution in the broadcast business and Digital Studio has had a front row seat. The good news is that the next decade promises even greater things."