No. 6, Spring/Summer 2001
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Opening Speeches Call for Free Press at DMC

(This story was published in the February 2001 issue of Digital Studio magazine and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the editors. For background on Dubai Media City, please see "The Dubai Digital Broadcasting Miracle," by Abdallah Schleifer, in our last issue.)

An evening dominated by a spectacular firework display marked the official opening of Dubai Media City.

The city's three office blocks, which are already virtually sold out, according to DMC officials, now stand as a symbol for free media in Dubai. "We want Dubai Media City to be the arena for free-thinking talent," said His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Minister of Defense, in his opening address.

Echoing that call for openness was Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Information and Culture. His message on cutting the media free was unequivocal.

"When I talk about media freedom, I do not mean it as an ambiguous and misleading phrase," he said. A key role for Dubai Media City will be the development of indigenous talent within the Arab world. The Ministry of Information and Culture is establishing a special Media Institute in the city designed to encourage UAE nationals to move into the media industry.

At the same time, Sheikh Abdullah asserted that there would be no absolute requirement for local media houses to take quotas of national employees. "We shall continue to encourage the recruitment of more UAE citizens into all parts of the media industry. However, I should stress that the prime consideration for the recruitment of an individual for a position in the media should be that of his or her qualifications," he explained.

UAE nationals assured of a job in Dubai Media City are those working at Emirates Media Corporation (EMC), for which Sheikh Abdullah is chairman. The company has been granted land at DMC to develop into areas including print, broadcasting and television.

With the three buildings of Dubai Media City already full, work is already planned to start of phase two of the project at the end of the month. Over 300,000 square feet of space will be added to the city, said Mohammed Al Gergawi, director general of Dubai Technology, E-commerce and Media Free Zone Authority, the management company of both Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City. TBS


It is a sign of faith in and high hopes for Dubai Media City that major media and technology companies, both Arab and international, are making it their regional headquarters.

Reuters has announced plans to make DMC its new Gulf headquarters by the end of April. Michael Kuli, Reuters Middle East Managing Director, told Digital Studio magazine (March 2001) that "this is the right kind of environment to be in, as the zone is attracting many IT companies. We will be able to serve our clients much better."

MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Centre) has decided to relocate from London to Dubai Media City. The official announcement came at a March 20 ceremony attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Minister of Defense, and UAE Minister of Information and Culture Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

MBC officials told Al-Hayat newspaper (Mar. 25, 2001, p. 1) that the move should take about seven months. TBS

Copyright 2001 Transnational Broadcasting Studies
TBS is published by the Adham Center for Television Journalism, the American University in Cairo