MEDIA ONE OF 12 ABU DHABI ECONOMIC VISION 2030 SECTORS

The Business Year: Abu Dhabi 2018 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Maryam Eid AlMheiri, CEO of the Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi & twofour54, on the growth and development of the Emirate as a media and film production hub, and the Emirati values she hopes to spread during the “Year of Zayed."

How do you see the role of twofour54 in Abu Dhabi today?

twofour54 was established a decade ago to play an instrumental role in developing the media sector in Abu Dhabi. We do this in three ways. The first is that we attract content creators and media companies from all around the world to Abu Dhabi. The second is we support these companies by providing a vibrant ecosystem that offers all the facilities they require to grow their business, and a community of like-minded individuals to collaborate, innovate, and create. The third way we help develop the media sector in Abu Dhabi is through talent development initiatives that offer training, internship and job opportunities for the next generation of media professionals. We are proud that as we approach our 10th anniversary we have attracted more the 460 regional and international companies, while 37% of our partners are Emirati owned and we have contributed to the economy of Abu Dhabi by creating jobs and driving value. Equally, we are proud that the content that has been created in our ecosystem has entertained and opened the hearts and minds of people across the world.

How does film production fit into the media strategy of Media Zone Authority - Abu Dhabi?

Film production is at the core of our strategy. Attracting big production studios and filming blockbusters in Abu Dhabi has a huge impact on developing the media sector. From a positioning perspective, movies such as Disney's Star Wars and Universal's Fast & Furious 7 have put Abu Dhabi on the global map as a versatile and attractive filming location. Indian blockbuster Tiger Zinda Hau alone exposed Abu Dhabi to a staggering 592 million Bollywood fans. There is also the positive economic impact from filming in Abu Dhabi. It has been estimated that for each dirham spent through our 30% cash rebate programme, an average of AED3.1 is returned to Abu Dhabi. Moreover, these film productions attract companies within the supply chain as well as talent, growing the ecosystem even further and supporting it with access to great opportunities.

How is the education sector in Abu Dhabi involved in fostering talent in media?

Everyone understands the important role media plays in our day-to-day life and in business and politics. Many universities and educational institutions in Abu Dhabi have dedicated programmes for media and the creative industries. And we at twofour54 have relationships with all of them as part of our internship programme I mentioned before. We are also working closely with these entities to align the curricula with the rapidly changing needs of content creators as well as change the perception of the industry.

How does the media sector fit into the economic Vision 2030 for Abu Dhabi?

Media is one of the 12 sectors identified in Abu Dhabi's Economic Vision 2030 as the growth sectors that will help the Emirate achieve its agenda of economic diversification. As such, the government has committed to invest in the best technology in the world to ensure the media sector not only flourishes but stays at the cutting edge of innovation. And we are already reaping the rewards from these investments. If we look at job creation, in twofour54 alone we have 4,000 jobs including freelancers. And the economic contribution of the twofour54 community reached AED1.5 billion in 2016. In addition, we are storytellers, creating content that showcases Abu Dhabi and its achievements to the world.

What UAE values would you like to see promoted outside and inside the country?

We firmly believe that the four values the nation is celebrating in 2018, the “Year of Zayed," namely wisdom, respect, sustainability, and human development, should be the foundations for all nations. Respect is a key value of the UAE; many discussions on this issue began when the Ministry of Tolerance was inaugurated. However, for us at twofour54, respect is about more than just a ministry; it is embedded in our genes, and with 200 nationalities in the Emirate, we welcome everyone to call this their home. In our community, twofour54, and the media sector, we always aim to bring people together and create stories about who we are. We need to make our narrative and voice stronger to bring people together. Equally, developing people is a vital part of plans to develop a diverse, knowledge-based economy, and, of course, sustainability is a value everyone on the planet needs to have close to their hearts if we are to preserve our environment for future generations. If the children of today grow up and hear and learn the values of His Highness Sheikh Zayed, we will not only be investing in the future of media, but will be building a stronger world. And let's not forget, none of this would be possible without the wisdom of our nation's leaders.