Answer: judging by the NYT piece below on last Sunday's shindig, the answer is yes. It's down to a blogger (not me but the Kipp Report) to raise the fundamental questions about what will now be the third media hub in the UAE. I'll begin with the NYT piece, show you the blog and introduce you to DMC.
Question: Did anyone in the senior management of the NYTMG attend the opening of the Abu Dhabi Media Park?
Answer: according to my sources, yes.
See below or click here for more on the different strategies between the Abu Dhabi Media Park and the already existing Dub
Reaching for a higher profile, Abu Dhabi opens a hub for Western media
By Tim Arango (NYT/IHT)
Monday, October 13, 2008
Twenty years ago, Abu Dhabi's cultural cachet in the West was as a punch line in the cartoon "Garfield." Today, backed with petrodollars, Abu Dhabi is fast becoming an international cultural hub and attracting American media companies.
On Sunday, a spate of companies announced that they were setting up shop in Abu Dhabi, an island city that is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The companies are CNN, the book publishers HarperCollins and Random House, the BBC, The Financial Times and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charity arm of the financial news giant Thomson Reuters.
Officials from these companies joined local officials in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to announce they would take space on a new 200,000-square-meter campus, called the Abu Dhabi Media Zone, that the government is building for foreign media companies.
The campus is intended to be an incubator that will mix Western media companies with billions in Middle Eastern oil money. It will offer training programs for journalists and filmmakers from the region but, more important, it will be a base for Western companies to do business in the region — and at the same time help the Abu Dhabi government reach its goal of becoming a cultural and media center of the Middle East.
"For most Western content companies, this region has not been fully engaged with," said Wayne Borg, a former Universal Studios executive who is chief operating officer of Abu Dhabi Media Zone, which is changing its name to twofour54 Abu Dhabi — a reference to the city's geographical coordinates. "There is certainly a market opportunity here. This region is a growth story."
This is the third major investment in media undertaken by Abu Dhabi recently. Another arm of the government, the Abu Dhabi Media Company, last year agreed to a $1 billion deal to make video games and movies with Warner Brothers, the Hollywood studio owned by Time Warner. More recently, the company announced it would spend $1 billion to start a film financing offshoot that will invest in Hollywood-style movies for English-speaking audiences.
For CNN the move amounts to a significant investment in the region — a big step beyond its announcement last year that it would expand its international news gathering and add a correspondent in Abu Dhabi. CNN plans to move close to 30 staff members to the city and begin broadcasting a daily prime-time news show from Abu Dhabi on CNN International. Abu Dhabi becomes the fourth international outpost for CNN in which it can produce studio broadcasts, the others being London, Hong Kong and Mexico City.
"News organizations, for a variety of reasons, have been cutting back," said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide. "We think it's critical to invest. This is a pretty sizable investment for us."
HarperCollins, the book publishing division of the News Corporation, is establishing a presence in Abu Dhabi to capitalize on what the company says is growth in the sale of English-language books in the Middle East. Erin Crum, a spokeswoman for HarperCollins, said the book publisher signed on to "explore the potential of the area and forge relationships."
With credit markets tight, the Middle East could become an increasingly important source of funds for Hollywood. Last week, as tumult continued on Wall Street, the Abu Dhabi government held its second annual Circle Conference, a gathering of investors, movie executives and producers in which the Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman, Jim Gianopulos, gave the keynote speech. That conference was followed by the Middle East International Film Festival, hosted by Abu Dhabi.
Michael Young, provost for the New York Film Academy, which opened a campus in Abu Dhabi in February, said, "I can't think of a place where there's more enthusiasm for film and film education."
Nor, perhaps, a place where there is more money to be spent by the government in creating an environment for the arts. In addition to the $2 billion the country has committed to Hollywood through the Abu Dhabi Media Company, the country has lured the Louvre and Guggenheim museums to establish outposts there, and established The National, an English-language broadsheet newspaper in Abu Dhabi.
All of this raises questions of whether the government, which is building the state-of-the-art facility, would exert control of the media — an idea antithetical to traditions in the United States and Western Europe. "Creatively, I have not seen any kinds of limitations," Young said.
Walton said CNN was paying for its space. "We're very mindful of protecting the CNN brand," he said. "We can't have anyone influence our editorial."
Borg, who runs the media center's day-to-day operations, said the government offered space "at negotiable rates."
Monique Villa, the chief executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which will use its space to teach journalism skills to participants from around the region, said she was not worried about the country's lack of press freedoms. Last month, journalists there held the first UAE Press Freedom Day, seeking more openness from the government and more access to information.
"What we would expect is that we would be able to train them like we have in other parts of the world," she said.
Nice party, decent hotel, upgrade on Emirates, had a chat with everyone there, no mention of DMC. Good weekend in all.
Actually there isn't a UAE byline, NYT won't accept freebies, so in fact no nice party, no decent hotel, no upgrade on Emirates but nevertheless the Abu Dhadi PR machine kept him nicely on message.
Abu Dhabi's media free zone opens on Sunday
posted on 12/10/2008
A mega media park will be launched today to "create content by Arabs for Arabs," according to a senior executive. "Abu Dhabi has the opportunity of becoming a creative hub for the media as well as arts and culture," Tony Orsten, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Media Park, told Gulf News. He said in five to 10 years, there will be a broad media industry in the UAE capital. "Production companies, editing and content will be made here not because it is cheaper than Cairo or Beirut, but because the quality of the content and the talent is here," said Orsten. A temporary campus for the media park will be set up by the end of this year near Khalifa Park. The actual park of 200,000 square metres will be constructed in five years in Mina Zayed area. The media park will build production studios and post production suites, transmission services (teleport uplink and downlink, satellite service provider, telecommunication and IT services and immigration and relocation services. – Gulf News
Abu Dhabi now has its own media zone that competes with Dubai Media City. But is the UAE in need of yet another media hub?
The Abu Dhabi Media Park launched today. The 200,000 square meter project will take over five years to complete, Gulf News reports. It will be temporarily housed closed to Khalifa Park until its larger campus in Mina Zayed is completed around 2014.
But does the UAE really need yet another media park? Aren’t Dubai Studio City, IMPZ and Dubai Media City enough? Apparently not. Abu Dhabi Media Park is quick to highlight its unique selling proposition: speaking to Gulf News, a senior executive at the Abu Dhabi Media Park states that at the media park content will be created “by Arabs for Arabs.”
While it sounds like it will have an exclusion policy, it won’t. In September 2008, the Abu Dhabi Media Company, which will be located in the media park, forged a deal worth $250 million with Participant Media, a Los Angeles based production company behind controversial hits like “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Syriana” (which, ironically, was censored in the UAE). The deal is to produce over 15 feature films over a span of five years. More recently, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Media Company, Image-nation Abu Dhabi, signed a deal with National Geographic Entertainment to produce 10 to 15 films by 2014. Clearly, the content created ‘by Arabs for Arabs’ will have significant boosts from non-Arabs.
But it’s easy to be cynical. The truth is without foreign help it’ll take decades before Abu Dhabi’s media scene matures enough to produce good quality documentaries. At least with the presence of established production companies, Arabs will be involved in the production of high-profile movies and documentaries: “We will be doing films on this region using local talent, producers and local writers,” said Tim Kelly, president of National Geographic Global Media (quoted in Gulf News).
Not only do the collaborations allow Arabs to take part, they also give nationals and Arabs a chance to have hands on experience without having to deal with the cutthroat competition other media hopefuls would face in the United States.
Such initiatives have yet to be announced in Dubai’s DMC. Indeed, DMC seems like more of a business park than a breeding ground for local talent and Arab-centric media productions. Dubai, however, doesn’t seem keen on becoming a center of arts and culture. Abu Dhabi does.
It appears the two emirates are vying for difference audiences. And if that’s true, then it begs the question: is the Abu Dhabi Media Park yet another addition to a larger ‘vision’ for the UAE?
Let me introduce you to the DMC:
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In respect to this vision, DMC creates a world-class environment for every kind of media business, which broadly includes media and marketing services, printing and publishing, music, film, new media, leisure and entertainment, broadcasting and information agencies. In this open and flexible environment, you and your company can operate with collective synergy and individual freedom.
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THE VISION OF DUBAI TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA FREE ZONE:
To become an efficient and leading provider of servicesto foster the growth of Dubai’s knowledge based economy
THE MISSION OF DUBAI MEDIA CITY:
To create and market world class enabling services for the media industry
The Media Business Centre offers fully furnished and serviced, spacious business units that are ideal for media professionals and start up companies looking to operate out of Dubai. Our flexible leasing terms accommodate both short and long term needs of individual clients and independent professionals.
The Media Business Centre offers a one-stop-shop and provides unique facilities for freelance professionals and companies alike. Apart from sponsorships, simplified visa procedures and flexible leasing opportunities, we provide business assistance in a modern and unconstrained environment which promotes creative inspiration. Freelancers Available exclusively at the Media Business Centre, the Freelance Permit identifies you as a sole practitioner, thereby enabling you to conduct your business in your own name as opposed to a company or brand name.Companies If your company consists of four or less employees, you can benefit greatly from our office spaces designed for innovative entrepreneurs.
A PLACE IN THE AUVERGNE
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