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Arab Media Forum to study impact of YouTube

Dubai Press Club, organisers of Arab Media Forum, has announced details of two strategic sessions that will headline the second day of the 11th Arab Media Forum.

 To be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the event will run from 8–9 May at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai. Themed ‘Arab Media: Exposure and Transition’, the event is set to draw the participation of eminent media personalities, thought leaders and key political figures from around the world.

Titled ‘YouTube Channels: Individual Platforms that Compete with Satellite Stations’, the first session will study the success of YouTube channels that have registered high popularity on the back of increased internet usage and ability to connect with the youth in the Arab world. The platform now serves to share recorded programmes as well as discuss social, political and religious issues in an innovative and appealing format, differentiating the content from what viewers are accustomed to watching on television. Some of these YouTube channels have not only succeeded in gaining phenomenal viewership, surpassing the levels of certain satellite channels, they have also drawn the support of leading companies and advertising agencies.

In addition to identifying common traits among the creators of these channels, the session will aim to ascertain factors that drive the popularity of these private channels and differentiate them from the more traditional ones. Furthermore, the primary challenges and obstacles that face the owners of these channels will also be examined.

Moderated by Ola Al Fares from MBC, the discussion will feature panellists such as the Akram Hosni ( Sayed Abu Hafiza ), Anchor, Nojoom FM, Dr. Bassem Youssef, presenter of popular ‘Al Barnamej’ on On TV, Rajae Qawas, presenter of ‘n2ocomedy’on YouTube, Abdullatif Mustafa, presenter of “Nashrat Ghaseel” on YouTube. Omar Hussein, presenter of ‘Ala Al Tayer’ on YouTube

The second session titled ‘Television Production: Where is the Innovation?!’ will examine the television’s increased dependence on western media. Despite the presence of more than 550 Arab satellite stations and the increase of transmission hours to absorb new productions and ideas, a basic reliance on foreign productions continues to exist. Not content with what reaches people from worldwide satellite channels, national Arab channels also transmit, translate and dub foreign productions and imitate their culture.

The scenario is almost as if decision makers at Arab satellite stations are content with ‘buying and collecting’ rather than making an effort to produce distinctive work. Critics believe that the situation holds serious implications and has led to the production of television content that is distorted and divorced from reality in the Arab world.

The session will raise a number of questions on the current environment’s suitability for new generations that bring with them a promise of creativity and innovation. The session will also identify stumbling blocks for the decline of creativity in Arab media houses. In addition to exploring the reasons why Arab productions do not acquire an audience beyond the Arab world, in places with similar culture and interest, the session will study successful models such as the Turkish productions.

Moderated by talk show host Reem Maged from ‘On TV’, the session will host speakers such as Ibrahim Al Ariss, head of the cinema section at Al Hayat newspaper; Assaad Taha, director, producer, and founder of Hot Spot Films; Ali Al Rumaithy, director of Dubai TV and executive director for radio and television, Dubai Media Incorporated; Fadi Ismail, GM, O3 Production, and writer Heba Hamada from Kuwait.