UPDATE FROM DUBAI
Opening Speeches Call for Free Press
(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
Dubai Digital Broadcasting Miracle," by Abdallah Schleifer, in our last
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
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
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.