Arab Information Ministers Council’s decision to name Dubai capital of Arab media crowns two decades of regional industry leadership

The Arab Information Ministers Council today announced it has chosen Dubai as the capital of the Arab media for the year 2020. The decision taken at the Council’s 50th session held in Cairo, chaired by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, reflects the vital role that Dubai has played in the growth of the Arab media industry.

The recognition crowns two decades of Dubai’s leadership in driving regional media industry growth during which it has also emerged as one of the world’s leading media hubs. At the forefront of this growth is the TECOM Group’s media clusters, Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Studio City (DSC) and Dubai Production City (DPC), which together represent the largest hub for media companies in the region. These vibrant clusters host more than 4,000 companies in media, marketing, broadcasting, production, film, television, music, entertainment and publishing sectors, employing more than 33,000 professionals and creative talent.

Her Excellency Mona Al Marri, Director General of the Government of Dubai Media Office said that the selection of Dubai as the 2020 'Capital of Arab Media' by the Arab Information Ministers Council reflects Dubai’s positive impact on the region’s media sector, and highlights the success of its vision for media growth launched two decades ago by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who has always stressed that media is a key partner in the Arab world’s development journey. Through major initiatives and projects aimed at enhancing the capabilities of the Arab media sector, His Highness has supported the aspirations of the region to create a better future.

Her Excellency also said that with the continuous support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, Dubai continues to make huge leaps in the development of media-related infrastructure. The emirate has become a global model for creating thriving media clusters; the development of a specialized regulatory framework for promoting responsible freedom of speech; and establishing the base for a media industry that supports the community’s needs. Dubai’s media projects have created a platform for talented people from across the world to develop their skills and the optimal environment for Emirati and Arab media talent to achieve their ambitions.

Dubai’s new phase of media growth began in 2001 when Dubai Media City (DMC) was launched in 2001 as part of the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to transform the emirate into a knowledge-based economy and the region’s leading media hub. Since its inception, DMC has created a community of free-thinking media professionals who can constantly widen creative boundaries. Dubai Media City is home to global media brands such as CNN, Thomson Reuters, BBC, MBC, CNBC Arabiya, Agence France Presse (AFP), Omnicom Media Group and Leo Burnett.

Key factors behind its ability to attract regional and global media giants are its state-of-the-art infrastructure, free zone status that allows 100% foreign ownership, full repatriation of profits and capital, no personal, income and corporate taxes, exemption from customs duty for goods and services, ease of business setup and a one-stop-shop for government services. Also driving its growth is Dubai’s strategic location at the centre of rapidly growing emerging markets that allows it to tap vast media markets stretching from India in the east to central Asia in the west.

The success of Dubai Media City led to the establishment of two new free zones for the media industry that further raised Dubai’s prominence in the regional and global media map – Dubai Production City and Dubai Studio City. Dubai Production City was launched in 2003 as the first dedicated community aimed at advancing the production industry in the region. A leading hub for the global and local publishing, printing and packaging industries, Dubai Production City has pioneered growth and stimulated innovation in these sectors. Launched in 2005, Dubai Studio City was developed as a global business community that provides cutting-edge facilities and services to companies across the broadcasting, film production, TV, music, and entertainment sectors. Dubai Studio City provides an all-in-one solution to facilitate an easy, efficient and innovative production process. Since its establishment, Dubai Studio City has supported various mega international film projects from Hollywood and Bollywood including Tom Cruise-starrer Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Jackie Chan-starrers King Fu Yoga and Vanguard.

Dubai Studio City is today home to leading media entertainment companies including regional and global powerhouses such as Dubai Media Incorporated, YouTube Space, Filmworks and Discovery Networks while Dubai Production City hosts several international companies such as Sony Pictures and Xerox.

Another major Dubai player in the growth of the media industry in the region is the Dubai Press Club. Established in 1999, the Dubai Press Club (DPC) is a centre dedicated to supporting, promoting and developing regional media. Created under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, DPC has launched several initiatives to foster industry excellence and dialogue.  Its major initiatives include the Arab Media Forum (AMF), the region’s largest media gathering; the Arab Journalism Award (AJA); the Emirates Media Forum(EMF); the Arab Social Media Influencers Summit (ASMIS); and the annual Arab Media Outlook, an extensive reference on the region’s media. The Dubai Press Club is one of the most active press clubs in the region. It provides its members with opportunities and resources for networking, knowledge sharing and professional development and organises activities targeted at different segments of the media community including workshops and seminars.

One of Dubai Press Club’s early initiatives was the Arab Media Forum (AMF), which was launched in 2001 to foster dialogue on regional issues among Arab media professionals. The annual event, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, offers a platform for media leaders to share their perspectives on the state of the media. The Forum, which today attracts over 3,000 prominent thought leaders, has steadily evolved in scope and reach over the years, encompassing a broader international outlook.

Dubai Press Club also launched the Arab Journalism Award in 1999 to improve the quality of journalism and media in the Arab world. The award’s main goals were to reward talent, inspire excellence, stimulate creativity and enhance the constructive role of the press in serving the community.

Over a decade later, Dubai Press Club launched the Emirati Media Forum (EMF) to provide a unique platform for dialogue between players across the media spectrum. The Forum provides an opportunity to discuss developments in the media industry as well as local and regional issues, while providing a bridge of communication between local media organisations, journalists, experts and specialists in various fields of media. Bringing together key Emirati media figures, thinkers, intellectuals and academics, the platform facilitates dialogue on the regional media landscape and the impact of recent global developments on the sector.

More recently, Dubai Press Club launched the Arab Social Media Influencers Summit, the world’s largest platform for social media influencers. Launched in 2015, the Summit looks at potential ways to enhance the use of social media platforms in serving the Arab community and create the right environment for the positive use of social media. The Summit features the participation of more than 1,500 social media influencers, experts and specialists.  

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