the internet was still relatively nascent. Yet Dubai officials were early adopters keen to embrace emerging technologies and attract new talent. Together with Dubai Outsource Zone where Du telecoms firm, Emirates airline and the Jumeirah hotel group have bases - Internet City forms the technology cluster. Last year marked 15 years since its neighbour Media City, an amalgam of news organisations, broadcasters and public relations firms, was inaugurated. Its original 99 companies in that first year now number more than 2,000. Sister quarters soon followed. The media cluster now includes Dubai Studio City, a 22 million sq ft space with stateof-the-art film and TV equipment, and the International Media Production Zone (IMPZ) to cater to the media industry’s printing and publishing needs. Knowledge Village and Academic City followed in an education cluster while Dubai Design District (D3) is the latest addition to the family in a bold attempt to carve a new fashion, art and design sector. But it all started, says Abdullah, with Internet City and “Dubai’s positioning as a hub for exporting and importing goods. The idea was to shift that concept into an industry that was not related to trade.” Media firms began to use their bases in Dubai to serve a wider region from Asia and Africa to Europe. TV producers who previously sourced experienced staff from Egypt and Lebanon no longer had to look further afield for
seasoned workers; the expansion created a large pool of available talent. But the media zone also had an impact on “the shape of the outcome and content”, says Abdullah, through news gatherers and producers having a better understanding of the region and an improved skillset. “I have been in the industry for 35 years and it has changed,” he says. “Before 2001, there were two or three local TV stations. Now there is an increased number of employees and talent working in companies and a transfer of knowledge, skills and expertise.” Major Arab broadcaster MBC is one of those success stories. Launched in London in 1991, it moved its headquarters to Dubai in 2002, where it operates 10 television channels. “It was a very brave action to move its operation but it made sense,” says Abdullah. “That is proven by the growth it is seeing today.” Tecom’s emphasis is on partnerships between different clusters. The group previously ran business speed-dating sessions to matchmake between similar industries and its latest venture is the Innovation Hub, a 1.6 million sq ft space promoting entrepreneurs and start-ups in the technology sector. “We call Tecom a one-stop shop,” says Abdullah. “For media companies today, the most important thing is the interaction with either your suppliers or your clients. The concept of creating zones of related activities like IT and education means it is not just one segment—it is the whole value chain.”
“We call Tecom a one-stop shop”
2016 MAY / JUNE
Published on May 1, 2016
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