Jamal Al-Sharif, Chairman of Dubai Film & TV Commission
Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC), in partnership with Oliver Wyman, yesterday released a white paper examining key areas for growth and investment in the Middle East and North Africa media production market, with recommendations for how
countries in the region can build world-class media ecosystems. DFTC commissioned the white paper to help inform its strategic approach to developing a robust media industry.
The white paper, entitled Opportunities and Challenges in the Middle East and North Africa Media Production Market, revealed that Arabic content production is still below its fullest potential, and presents the biggest opportunity for growth in the Middle East media production market. It found that although Arabic is the sixth world language in terms of GDP, there is still a significant lack of Arabic media content. Between 2005 and 2010, the Middle East contributed only 0.72% of the films produced in the world. Furthermore, Arabic film and TV production represent only 0.03% of GDP in the Middle East and North Africa – well below comparable markets elsewhere.
Several countries within the MENA region are taking the initiative to boost and strengthen their media industries, particularly in the Gulf. The white paper revealed Dubai's strong potential to become a global media production hub meeting the highest industry standards, thanks to its focus on building the required production infrastructure and services that are fundamental to a vibrant media ecosystem.
The case study on Dubai highlights the emirate's achievements to date in the areas of production infrastructure, such as the state-of-the-art sound stages at Dubai Studio City and the creation of the Dubai Film and TV Commission, which provides the necessary framework to ease the production process for filmmakers. The paper also underlined the competitive advantages of Dubai's diverse locations, city infrastructure and safety.
Among these findings, three key actions stood out which could dramatically change Dubai's global position and help take it to the next level: improving access to talent by offering longer-term residency to production crew; developing more formalised film incentives; and improving TV audience measurement across the region. According to the paper, if Dubai develops and implements such changes, its position as an internationally renowned media production hub would strengthen and progress dramatically.
Jamal Al Sharif, Chairman of Dubai Film & TV Commission, commented on the findings: "Dubai has become the regional trailblazer for the media industry in recent years, benefitting both the emirate and the UAE at large. The opening of the sound stages at Dubai Studio City and the inauguration of DFTC have been major achievements in recent years. But we must always look to the future and to what comes next. Where successes have been achieved, it's important to understand how they can be built on; and where challenges remain, it's important to learn how we can address them.
"We acknowledge that gaps remain in areas such as the production of Arabic content, providing access to talent, and audience measurement, and steps are already being taken to improve these. In fact, the first annual report of TV audience figures was released by TView just this November, and these will be released regularly from now on, providing film and TV producers with the insights they need to secure investment. Building talent and increasing Arabic content are major pillars of the Dubai Film and TV Commission's mandate and so these areas will be a key focus for us moving forward."
Jeff Youssef, Associate Partner at Oliver Wyman, said: "The global media and entertainment industry generated nearly US$1.6 trillion in revenues last year, and the direct benefits – from employment opportunities to cultural enrichment – generated for a country by the core film and TV industry are substantial. Media production is becoming increasingly important in a number of countries in the MENA region. However, markets need to assess their performance against key production requirements and take concrete steps to address their shortfalls. Initial analysis suggests that Dubai is stronger than its regional peers in certain areas, such as quality of locations and production infrastructure, and through the findings of this white paper the emirate will be able to build on its blueprint for success to further a proven commitment to film and TV making."
The findings of the white paper were discussed yesterday by Jamal al Sharif and Jeff Youssef at the 10th Dubai International Film Festival.
Created in May 2012, the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC) aims to promote Dubai as a shooting and production location to the film and television industry locally, regionally and internationally. It serves as a one-stop shop for producers, film crews and filmmakers to ensure that filming in Dubai is as easy and efficient as possible. DFTC is the sole entity authorised to issue shooting permits for the limitless exciting locations that Dubai has to offer, whether private or public, and does so through the Location Approval Services (LAS) office. Additionally, DFTC is committed to finding ways to reduce the cost of filming in Dubai and provide financial incentives, whether through special arrangement with key industry partners, licensing and fee rebates, or negotiations with service providers.