What best practices have you adopted from your partners globally to transform the national media landscape in the UAE?
The largest area for growth is probably the digital media aspect, where global changes are leading the way. We saw the best practices in different areas and we understand the engagement model. Whether it is Netflix or Amazon, we look at these companies that care deeply about the digital platforms and we engage with them in their ambitions to conquer the local market. Advising on the viability of local content and where the demand might be is part of our engagement with international players. At the same time, we tackle the learning curve for digital media and understand what media represents and how we can use the platforms that are booming at the moment. One of our main objectives is to develop Arabic content and we also want to build upon these partnerships to promote locally developed content, from video and cinema to gaming.
How has legislation on national media changed according to the UAE's transformation into a sophisticated, more globally integrated nation in the global arena?
One of our major preoccupations is how to bring the legislative framework governing the media in sync with the realities of the digital era. There are many legislative initiatives that we have either completed or are in the process of finalizing—classification of all published materials, including films, according to the age groups they are suitable for, a comprehensive legal framework for digital and online media, and the easing of licensing processes with maximum reliance on online platforms, for example. We are currently reviewing our legislative framework in its entirety to see to what extent it conforms to the realities of a digital era.
You support local content and support the readers who would consume that content. What are your strategies to attract publishers and editors, as well as foster readership in the country?
The Reading Law was launched in 2016 to foster reading as a habit and improve readership. Part of the initiative of that law is to support the publishing industry, which we are responsible for. At present, we want to help the publishing industry to classify books and to reengineer our processes. We are also revising the licensing process to make it shorter and easier for the publisher to publish more books. We also started an initiative to support publishers who find the costs of printing too high, if their content promotes our local culture and identity, we subsidize the cost of printing. Furthermore, we are currently involved in the process of finalizing some decisive measures to enhance digital and information literacy in the UAE. It will cover a wide range of issues relating to our everyday aspects of digital literacy.
The NMC is in the midst of its 2017-2021 Strategic Plan. What target have you set your eyes on for the development of the local media industry?
We are now fully invested in providing our online services to the best international standards and we are working on legislation to regulate online and digital media to the highest standard. Our objective is to ensure that the legislative environment for the media sector in its entirety in the UAE is on par with the best anywhere in the world. We will grow our partnership network, such as the MoU we recently signed with Abu Dhabi University to enhance a new generation of competent media persons in the UAE, who are rooted in the local cultural milieu on the one hand and wired to the global scene on the other. We want all of our services to be digitally available and we want all our licenses to be viewable from mobile devices. For the NMC, our strategy is to be up to date with innovative solutions that can provide information to the public to facilitate the UAE's ambitious plans.