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Middle East film production "not reached full potential yet"

Dubai film commission releases report on film and TV industryMore home-grown Arabic content, formalised film incentives and the possibility to offer longer-term residency to production crew, this, the Dubai Film Commission says, is needed in order to ensure the Middle East production market reaches its full potential.

Arabic content production is still below its fullest potential, and presents the biggest opportunity for growth in the Middle East media production market. Such is the outcome of research conducted by the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC) examining key areas for growth and investment in the Middle East and North Africa media production market.

In the white paper, released Wednesday (11 December) the film commission points out that although Arabic is the sixth world language in terms of GDP, there is still a significant lack of Arabic media content. Between 2005 and 2010, the Middle East contributed only 0.72% of the films produced in the world. Furthermore, Arabic film and TV production represent only 0.03% of GDP in the Middle East and North Africa – well below comparable markets elsewhere.

The report states that Dubai has a strong potential to become a global media production hub – mainly because of its continued focus to build the required production infrastructure and services.

Not surprisingly, the report mentions Dubai’s studio complex - Dubai Studio City - and the creation of the Dubai Film and TV Commission in 2012 as positive achievements in the region so far. The paper also underlines the competitive advantages of Dubai’s locations, city infrastructure and safety.

Three key actions stood out, however, which could dramatically change Dubai’s global position and help take it to the next level. These, the commission states, are:

  • improving access to talent by offering longer-term residency to production crew;
  • developing more formalised film incentives;
  • and improving TV audience measurement across the region.

According to the paper, if Dubai develops and implements such changes, its position as an internationally renowned media production hub would strengthen and progress dramatically.

Jeff Youssef, associate partner at Oliver Wyman, who conducted the research for the white paper, said: “The global media and entertainment industry generated nearly $1.6tn in revenues last year, and the direct benefits – from employment opportunities to cultural enrichment – generated for a country by the core film and TV industry are substantial. Media production is becoming increasingly important in a number of countries in the MENA region.

“However, markets need to assess their performance against key production requirements and take concrete steps to address their shortfalls. Initial analysis suggests that Dubai is stronger than its regional peers in certain areas, such as quality of locations and production infrastructure, and through the findings of this white paper the emirate will be able to build on its blueprint for success to further a proven commitment to film and TV making.”

To read the full white paper, please visit the website of the Dubai Film Commission.

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