As yet another IBC draws nigh, we see many manufacturers and dealers in the production and broadcast supply chain, carefully monitoring the growth of the production and broadcast market in the Middle East to see how viable it is for them to set up shop here.
And why not? While the rest of the world is reeling from the impact of global recession, the Middle East economy is at an all-time high.
Several international players, who saw the slug in their own markets and looked for new pastures to explore, discovered the Middle East, where every broadcaster is either building their facility from scratch or upgrading to the latest technology in the market.
Take the Abu Dhabi Media Company, for instance, that is looking at each part of its broadcasting facility and revamping it. Already, the media group has taken delivery of two HD OB vans and in a year, it hopes to have a fully ready HD broadcast facility.
Arab Media Group, Dubai's largest media house has just invested US $10 million in its broadcast arm, Arab Television Network (ATN), and this is only the first of many phases.
Dubai Studio City, the new free zone, conceived by the Dubai government to attract more people in the production market, has seen a 120% rise in the number of tenants it has there from the previous year. Studio City's director Jamal Al Sharif says the biggest USP of this country is its tax-free business environment.
This has especially attracted a lot of Indian broadcasters to Dubai. He claimed that these companies saw at least a 30% decrease in cash outflow because they did not have to pay taxes here.
While the big media houses may not yet be registering much profit and are perhaps investing more than they are getting back, many young individuals in the professional editing market are seeing much better returns and starting their own production houses. Take the case of Déjà vu, which is run by an under-30 something owner.
The production house has barely celebrated its first birthday and is already joining hands with another player in the market to start another similar company.
Clearly, there's a lot of money to be made here if you have the right contacts, the ideal network and lots of experience working with local clients. Everyone keeps saying the bubble will burst today but rest assured, this one's going to last a while.
Vijaya Cherian is the editor of Digital Studio.
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