The past year has seen an increase in local and Arabic content production, including Saraya Al Bait, Al Hob Fe Al Arbeen, Qabl Al Awan and Weash Rajjak, according to a report from The Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC).
Jamal Al Sharif, chairman of Dubai Film and TV Commission and managing director of Dubai Studio City, stressed that the development of a “vibrant and sustainable” film and TV industry needs more than just financing: “A healthy production ecosystem requires cutting-edge infrastructure and facilities, versatile filming locations, incentives as well as safety and access to talent,” he said.
“Dubai offers a serious competitive advantage to production companies, with its robust and advanced infrastructure, facilitation of entry and exit for large crews, as well as its understanding of the importance of a diversified economy.”
He added that Dubai’s government has made the development of a strong media ecosystem a priority. “Dubai has gone from strength to strength as a hub for film and TV production,” he said. “Great strides are being taken by the government and by DFTC to accommodate international as well as local production companies, who are pioneering the creation of content and championing new technologies to create content of the absolute highest quality.”
However, while local production has risen in the past year, the report also highlighted the need for more work to be done, especially in Arabic online content. Estimates show that only 1%-3% of total global online content is in Arabic, the report stated. It also highlighted research from Booz & Co titled which found that a high proportion of internet users were disappointed with the amount of Arabic content available online.
Nearly 40% of the GCC population aged between 15 and 35 years are technologically savvy web users, and 80% use the internet daily. However, nearly a third of these users expressed dissatisfaction at the limited nature of Arabic content in the digital world, according to Booz & Co.
Since its establishment in 2012, DFTC has supported the growth of Dubai’s production industry and provided robust infrastructure and facilities for filmmakers to produce content across Dubai. DFTC has facilitated the production of some of the region’s biggest blockbusters over the past two years including Happy New Year, and has provided infrastructure and support for international TV formats such as MasterChef Arabia, which was the largest MasterChef set to date.
In Q4 2013, DFTC launched its Automation Project, which is designed to function as a service that streamlines the permit approvals process and simplifies the necessary procedures for all of the parties involved. The Project includes an E-Payment gateway and phase 1 was launched on 22nd June 2014. Moreover, DFTC also launched its ‘Film Dubai Production Guide’ earlier this year, which provides a comprehensive guide to locations and production companies across Dubai.