TBY talks to Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director of Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Studio City (DSC), and Dubai Production City (DPC), on fostering media innovation, growing the gaming industry, and supporting the film industry.

Majed Al Suwaidi
Before joining DMC in 2016, Majed Al Suwaidi was the Managing Director of Dubai Internet City (DIC), the region’s largest ICT business community, and Dubai Outsource City (DOC). He began his career at TECOM Group as the Director of Business Development for DIC and DOC, developing the business parks’ strategy for partner acquisition and retention. He played a crucial role in supporting and fostering start-ups, entrepreneurs, and technology SMEs within DIC, enhancing the technology ecosystem in Dubai. Under his leadership, DIC launched the in5 Innovation Center to support technology start-ups in 2012 and was named a Strategic Partner of Smart Dubai in 2015.

How do you plan to promote innovation as the driving force behind the future growth of DMC, DSC, and DPC?

2017 is an important year for us across DMC, DSC, and DPC, especially as digitization takes a stronger hold in the media industry. Home to a number of “mobile-first" markets, the MENA region's share of views on mobile phones jumped from 11% in 2011 to almost 70% in 2015. This paradigm means that the industry is focused on younger audiences and new platforms for content. So, our main focus will be talent development and content generation. In line with TECOM Group's AED4.5 billion (USD1.2 billion) Innovation Strategy to accelerate new start-up development and foster entrepreneurship in the UAE, we are working on making innovation the fabric of the media industry through in5 Innovation Center for Media and YouTube Space in DSC. in5 will strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the UAE media industry by supporting freelancers and entrepreneurs in acquiring the right skills through mentorship, and providing them with the tools and advanced facilities. DSC's recent partnership with YouTube to open the first YouTube Space in the region will foster innovation from the most talented content creators and provide them with free access to high-end audio, visual, and editing equipment, in addition to training programs, workshops, and courses. So, we are focusing on enabling talents to utilize innovation in generating content that is in line with consumer behavior and has dramatically changed due to the digital revolution.

According to the Arab Media Outlook 2016, digital is the fastest-growing segment and, within that, gaming holds the most value. What can be done to address the major challenges of lack of talent and start-up funding in the gaming industry?

We are living in a young and dynamic region where almost 50% of the population is under 24 years of age, and technology platforms are a way of life for them as digital natives. With the rise in mobile adoption, gaming today has seen a huge shift from traditional consoles. The region's gaming industry is already worth more than USD1 billion and is expected to grow to USD4.4 billion by 2022. This alone presents a significant opportunity for professionals in the gaming industry. With an existing base of script writers, designers, producers, artists, and many more, Dubai is fundamentally well placed to bring together the best creative talent in gaming. However, more awareness needs to be created about professional opportunities for gaming enthusiasts in the region. Across our media communities, this creative talent and gaming enthusiasts provide a supply of innovators for our in5 Innovation Center, which will provide access to mentorship and funding as the gaming industry matures.

The Dubai film industry is seeing outstanding growth, and last year blockbusters such as Star Trek were filmed in the Emirate. What does Dubai Studio City offer to international film production companies?

DSC is made up of a global business community that has been catering to the production needs of the Middle East for more than a decade. During this time, we have invested in bringing cutting-edge facilities and services to companies from across the globe. We also proved that the city is a media hub through enabling the production of blockbuster movies here. In terms of design, the quality and size of our studios have a good reputation with Hollywood producers as they are built to international standards and capable to take any scale of production, be it film or television. The largest studio, at over 4,600sqm, outstrips many of those found in the biggest and most successful movie production studios in the world. We are also integrating innovation through our in5 Innovation Center and the YouTube Space Dubai. We have already positioned Dubai as a regional hub through offering an international audience and high standards of production.