Abu Dhabi is the new rising media star in the region, and all eyes in the broadcast world are now focused on how the UAE capital is looking to take its media business ahead of the existing competition. Abu Dhabi has several advantages.
Although it was slow to get going, the emirate’s re-entry into the media business has been timely. When Abu Dhabi Media Company was announced, moving to High Definition was top priority for a lot of international broadcasters.
Taking its cue from industry heavyweights, ADMC decided that if it was going to invest in an overhaul, it may as well be in High Definition. A worthy decision as not many other well-funded state broadcasters in the region have done that. Most did an overhaul two years ago but decided to stick with Standard Definition with the notable exception of Al Jazeera English.
But that’s only part of the story. Now the UAE capital has announced yet another initiative that has the complete backing of the Abu Dhabi government. Twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s media zone authority incorporates not just the real estate but also a training academy for media professionals that was designed in conjunction with the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a financing body that can potentially fund filmmakers or other media entrepreneurs with a creative idea. Twofour54 will also incorporate a broadcast body called Intaj that will put in place the studio facilities and editing infrastructure necessary for production crew to operate from the zone.
Abu Dhabi claims that the main objective of the new initiative is to generate more high-quality Arabic content that will be appreciated both regionally as well as internationally.
To meet these lofty ideals, the authority already has on board the National Geographic, BBC, Sky Pictures, CNN and the like.
While the rest of the world is taking a step back in terms of investment, Abu Dhabi is making up for lost time and surging forward in full gear. Coupled with these are the Middle East International Film Festival, The Circle and the re-branding of Abu Dhabi TV’s channels that are all geared towards giving Abu Dhabi a face lift; and clearly, the media world has now begun to take notice.
Vijaya Cherian is the editor of Digital Studio.