The media industry in the UAE is so well-established and cutting-edge; it’s hard to believe the relative regency of this industry springing up in the young nation.It all began in the 1990s when the government introduced an array of diversification-minded development policies. Pivotal to this diversification effort was the creation of free zones, which offered foreign investors incentives to establish their businesses in the UAE, along with convenient access to the steadily increasing purchasing power of a rapidly expanding Gulf market.As a result, today, media production companies, including Sony and Showtime, advertising firms like DDB and Dentsu Aegis, news organizations like Reuters, The Economist, and CNN, publishing firms, such as McGraw Hill and Forbes, and social media companies like Facebook, have set up their offices in the UAE.
The free zones popular for media in the UAE are:
UAE is the base for sundry print media brands like Gulf News(an English-language daily), Khaleej Times (a broadsheet),7Days(a free English-language tabloid); The National(an English-language daily), and Al Bayan(a state-owned Arabic-language daily publication).
In 2015, print media demanded the largest chunk of advertisement expenditure in the UAE. However, this figure has been steadily declining, because of the nature of the industry. The print industry in the UAE is braving the same issues currently being faced by traditional newspapers and magazines in other markets around the globe. Nevertheless, demand for local content still exists, delivered both in the form of newspapers and magazines, with fashion and lifestyle magazines being particularly popular.
In the UAE, over 700 channels are broadcast. These include Dubai One, City 7 Dubai(a private, locally owned news and entertainment channel), Al Arabiya(an Arabic-language news station), MBC 1(an Arabic entertainment channel), and MBC Max(an American movie channel).
In the recent years, much of the growth in the media industry in the UAE has been online. The advertising expenditure on the web hasn’t been considerable hitherto but presents a potential area of growth for Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Even now, certain media company websites like Gulf News and Dubizzle attract extensive traffic.
The UAE government encourages the media sector. Consequently, media institutions in the country are flourishing. Domestic media focuses on the migrant population producing eight English-language newspapers, dozens of magazines and specialist periodicals. Moreover, major international media organizations have established their headquarters in media zones like twofour54, Dubai Media City, Fujairah Creative City, and RAK Media City. Local organizations such as Image Nation, based at twofour54, marry world-class expertise with the regional knowledge to develop original content, especially in Arabic, for TV and digital media, ensuring that the UAE is a hub for the media and entertainment industry in the MENA region. Organizations such as the Dubai Press Club, Sharjah Media Centre and the UAE Journalists' Association, local media outlets, and hundreds of accredited foreign media correspondents in the UAE contribute to a vibrant ambience for the media.
Digital media boom in the UAE region is a given considering the recent media developments in the nation. If you are looking to venture into the media industry, UAE might be a good place for you to consider to set up shop. Feel free to reach out to us for any help or queries regarding business setup in the UAE – we’d be glad to be of assistance.
Marketer by profession, writer by passion, Madhav is a dreamer, introvert, logophile, part-time freethinker. He likes to believe he’s a superhero.
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