Media and Culture
The UAE is the commercial heart of the Middle East’s media sector, serving as a regional hub for international media companies and as a fertile field for the development of domestic media industries. The rapidly growing sector is overseen by the National Media Council, which is responsible for issuing media licences, enforcing media laws, and running the external information department and the Emirates News Agency, WAM.
One of the country’s largest media conglomerates is the Abu Dhabi Media Company, which owns and operates a range of television channels, a network of radio stations, a number of publications (Al Ittihad newspaper, The National newspaper, Zahrat Al Khaleej magazine and Majid magazine) and several other media-related business, including film-development company Imagenation, United Printing Press and Live.
Free zones have been instrument in media development, CNN has established a news hub in Abu Dhabi’s new twofour54 media zone that has attracted many other media professionals. Dubai Media City now has more than 1200 registered business such as CNN, the BBC, MBC and CNBC. This is one of a cluster of media free zones run by Tecom, including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Studio City and the International Media Production Zone. These zones have been complemented by the development of smaller media free zones such as Fujairah Creative City and RAK Media City.
Film production, both on the international level and domestically, is encouraged, and it is supported by a number of organizations, including Dubai Studio City, twofour54, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), The Circle and the Abu Dhabi Film Commission.
Books, including translations of major works into Arabic, and promoted by organizations such as Kitab and Kalima. Major fairs for book publishers held in the UAE include the long-established Sharjah International Book Fair and the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, while the largest literary prize is the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, which went to Pedro Martinez Montavez in 2009.
The Dubai Press Club organizes, among other things, the Arab Media Forum, and hosts the Arab Journalism Awards, now in its eighth year and comprising twelve different categories.
Heritage and culture are central to national identity, and the UAE is making considerable efforts to preserve its traditional culture. At the same time, the Federation is undergoing a cultural renaissance, with a particular emphasis on investment in world-class resources and the forging of bridges between East and West.
The Federal Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development is active in these fields, creating opportunities for young Emirates to take part in cultural, intellectual, sports and entertainment activities, while also encouraging older citizens to participate as mentors, imparting their cultural knowledge to the younger generation.
To help foster music appreciation, ADACH organizes many musical events, including the Abu Dhabi Classics, which hosted the Middle Eastern debut of the New York Philharmonic in 2009. WOMAD’s global music festival has also been held in Abu Dhabi. In addition, a series of concerts entitled ‘Dubia Sound City’ made a big impact in 2009. In terms of the visual arts, in early 2009 the ‘Emirati Expression’ exhibition featured eighty-seven local artists, from veteran painters to a new generation of photographers, graphic designers, video and installation artists. Meanwhile, the Sharjah Biennial, Art Dubai, Art Fair and a number of other exhibitions were held in collaboration with partners such as the Guggenheim Foundation, the Louvre, New York University Abu Dhabi, and Paris-Sorbone University Abu Dhabi. Contemporary art is also well represented at dedicated galleries throughout the Emirates.
Among the major international cultural initiatives by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development during the year was the organization of the UAE’s first pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Other activities overseas included a week-long ‘UAE Cultural Days’ festival in Berlin and an Emirati-German art exhibition in Huamburg, where another Ministry initiative, the ‘Dialogue of Cultures’ project was also launched.
On the broader cultural front, world-class museums such as the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the Sheikh Zayed National Museum are under development. Meanwhile, the already well-established Sharjah Museums Department oversees seventeen museums and cultural institutions, including a spectacular new museum of Islamic civilization.