ECOM Investments’ Media Cluster, which includes Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Studio City (DSC) and International Media Production Zone (IMPZ), today announced it has experienced steady growth in the number of companies registered in 2011 with 284 companies setting up base at the cluster;
Key segments that saw new additions at TECOM Media Cluster in 2011 include freelancers, consultancy, event management, media and marketing services, new media as well as television, film and radio production.
Digital audio firm Dolby Laboratories, Sony Pictures (CPT Holdings, Columbia), Fremantle Media, Scholastic, Christie + Co and Groupon are among the top global brands that established their operations at the TECOM media free zones.
In 2011, TECOM Media Cluster also saw its business partners includingITP Publishing Group, MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Center), Leo Burnett, outdoor advertising specialist JCDecaux and digital printersCostra Groupexpanding their commercial and business operations.
Mohammad Abdullah, Managing Director, TECOM Investments’ Media Cluster, said: “Theyear 2011 has proved positive for us. On the back of an industry uptrend, a good line-up of businesses set up base at the Media Cluster. Additional investments in potential growth areas and operational expansions were also witnessed. The favourable year-on-year trend for the cluster reflects the development in the region that continues to attract a large community of media professionals.”
Total ad spend in the Arab-speaking media market (including GCC, Levant and Pan-Arab media) in 2011 was US$ 14.3 billion, compared to US$ 13.7 billion in 2010, marking a four per cent year-on-year increase. UAE- and Saudi Arabia-based media also saw an increase in ad spend of 1per centand 9 per cent respectively during the same period.1
However, no significant downturn is expected in the content-production space. According to a recent study by the Arab Advisors Group’s on TV Series Production Houses in the Arab world, a sample set of 26 production houses in the GCC, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria were seen to have produced 47 television series productions in the first nine months of 2011, compared to 57 in 2010.2
Another area of significant growth potential is e-books. Arabic content is only four per cent of global content, with a small contribution of Arabic e-books. The internet features over 600,000 Arabic books of which only two per centcan be read on smart-phones and tablets.3 This is a tremendous opportunity, given the immense potential in the smart-phone market in the MENA region. For example, according to research sponsored by Research in Motion, 95 per centof smart-phone users in the MENA region download apps, with six apps being downloaded on a monthly basis. E-content has monetizing potential as one out of four smart-phone users spend at least US$50 monthly on apps. This is particularly insightful in a scenario where close to 61 per cent of Arabic speaking smart-phone users prefer apps in Arabic.4
Mohammad Abdullah added: “The media environment in the Middle East is rapidly changing, buoyed by new satellite channels, the Internet and new media that offer more choice and alternative information to encourage industry reforms. Investors across the new media value-chain are particularly looking at areas such as content creation and delivery. With the media poised to serve as a platform to promote public debate, transparency, accountability and respect for diversity of views and opinions, the time is now right for international industry leaders to explore fresh areas of opportunity in the Middle East.”
Launched with 99 companies back in 2001, Dubai Media City marked its 10th anniversary celebrations last year. Dubai Studio City, a dedicated free zone for media and broadcast production sector, and the International Media Production Zone (IMPZ), a cluster dedicated to the printing, publishing, packaging and graphic art industries, were created as logical extensions of the tremendous growth witnessed by Dubai Media City. TECOM Investments’ Media Cluster has grown to over 1,800 companies/business partners, creating a media ecosystem offering significant opportunities for synergies between the companies and professional community.