TBY talks to Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (SHAMS), on the goals of the media city, the key role technology will play in the SHAMS, and supporting SMEs and startups.

 Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa
With more than 15 years of professional experience, Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa is currently the Chairman of SHAMS and a member of the Sharjah Media Council. Since assuming office at Sharjah TV & Radio station between 2011-2016, the entity has made great strides, launching new television channels and radio stations across the Emirate. Dr. Al Midfa is known for his passion for encouraging young talents and regularly supports and sponsors university and college students in their projects and initiatives. He holds a PhD in telecommunications engineering from the Telecommunications Research Laboratory and a master’s in telecommunications engineering from the University of Bristol, UK.

Can you give us a short overview of the history of Sharjah Media City?

Sharjah Media City was established with an Amiri decree in January 2016. We worked with the Chairman of the Sharjah Media Corporation, Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, and he headed a team that looked into the possibility of establishing a new media city that leverages Sharjah's many accomplishments and advances. We were also keen to see Sharjah's many media users participate in the creation of this new media city. We wanted to capture all issues and matters that would be beneficial to the Emirate. We submitted this proposal to His Highness, and he accepted the proposal and assigned a plot of land for the city. We have assigned a consultant to begin the conceptual stage of developing the city and this was completed over the course of 2016. We presented this plan to His Highness and he returned it to us with excellent suggestions and adjustments. We are now in the process in detailing the master plan for the media city.

What makes Sharjah Media City unique compared to similar developments in the UAE?

We looked at all the media cities in the country and around the region and recognized that this media city was vital for the interests of the country and Sharjah. Older media cities were cutting edge and advanced when they were established; however, the media and consumers' relationship with it has changed in recent years. We wanted to ensure that these advances were integral to the foundation of Sharjah Media City from the start. We place every available technology into the construction of the city. Every aspect of the city will support and help the development of the companies. Partnerships are also key to the development of this city, and we are integrating a wide variety of advance technologies into the city. We will provide a great deal of support services to the city's users in order to boost their businesses. We want them to focus only on their passions and fields of expertise while we take care of the rest. We plan on bringing legal services, accounting services, and facility management services to firms operating in the city. We will match and possibly exceed the level of excellence achieved by our sister media cities.

How would you describe the role the media industry can play in Sharjah for the economic development of the Emirate?

It will be a major milestone in the development of the media economy. Data usage in media is in greater demand than many other fields, and we will provide an opportunity for companies to advance and receive all the technological support they need. Additionally, Sharjah and His Highness want to see the culture and ideas of the Emirate spread to the entire world. Our media city will bear this same standard but do it in way that expands the realm of potential by using languages other than Arabic to spread our message. Sharjah was determined to be the capital of the Islamic world in 2014, and we want to use this crown to connect and contact and communicate with our fellow peoples across the world.

What role can you play in creating new SMEs and innovative startups in the Emirate?

Supporting SMEs is an integral part of the establishment of the media city; it is even in our founding decree. His Highness explicitly directed us to support SMEs and entrepreneurs in creative businesses. We take this responsibility very seriously and seek to collaborate and find the best partners to support this vision. We want to provide training and education for those firms that are interested in working here. Our users will be well supported, and we hope to begin helping entrepreneurs from an early stage. We see ourselves as a real catalyst for economic development in the media sphere in Sharjah. We have plans in place to develop the media potential of the emirate and are excited about the way forward.