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The UAE has taken significant steps towards supporting the digital content production sector and investing in its capabilities to increase its contribution to the country’s economy.
This initiative is a key focus of the UAE’s National Strategy for Cultural and Creative Industries and complements a series of initiatives to attract professionals in the creative industries and innovative content creators.
Over the past decade, there has been a concerted effort to develop the creative industries and creator economy ecosystem, aiming to increase its contribution to five per cent of the total GDP by 2031.
Examining the achievements of the UAE in this context reveals its competitive position in providing an ideal and supportive environment for creative industries and digital content production. The emirate of Dubai, in particular, secured the top global ranking in attracting foreign direct investment projects in cultural and creative industries in 2022.
The global creator economy is currently valued at around $250 billion and is projected to reach approximately half a trillion dollars by 2027, according to Goldman Sachs. This significant contribution underscores the fierce competition among nations to lead and invest in current and future opportunities. This is evident as the UAE hosts the largest gathering of content creators and influencers globally through the “1 Billion Followers Summit,” with a regional impact highlighted in the “Entertainment and Media Outlook in the Middle East and North Africa 2020-2024” report by Strategy&. The report predicts that digital content will constitute 46 per cent of the expected $22 billion spending on media in the Middle East and North Africa in 2024, marking a notable increase from 37 per cent in 2019.
These figures indicate the emergence of a new economic sector on the horizon, necessitating the Arab world to pave the way for its growth. This involves continued establishment of platforms, specialised academies, infrastructure support, and the development of laws and regulations ensuring the constructive progress of this industry. Simultaneously, attention must be given to the unique aspects of creative work. Strategic thinking by decision-makers is crucial to investing in and nurturing talent while fostering partnerships between individuals and relevant institutions and organisations.
In this context, Alia Al Hammadi, CEO of New Media Academy, said: “The UAE confidently strides towards a knowledge-based, innovative, and creative economy, where human ideas and talents are the primary resources. This is evident in various industries, with content creation at the forefront, emphasising talent excellence, impactful ideas, and exceptional use of available technologies to achieve a positive influence among audiences.
Al Hamadi added, “In line with this vision, the UAE is working to foster the growth of the creator economy through programmes and initiatives focused on developing the self-capabilities of human resources, providing support, and offering opportunities for their qualification. This is reflected in the harmony and alignment among all institutions and entities competing to support and develop the creator economy, with the’1 Billion Followers Summit’ being a prominent example. All these efforts converge into one vision: the UAE as the land of talents and the preferred choice for those seeking to fulfil their dreams in this context.”
Efforts to support the components of the creator economy ecosystem have become more specialised than ever. This is exemplified by the provision of a dedicated platform to support content creators, numbering over 300 million, according to a global study by Adobe in 2022. This support is manifested through the “1 Billion Followers Summit,” the world’s first and biggest specialised summit and interactive creative event that brings together digital content creators from around the world. They are followed by a community of over one billion users across various social media platforms.
The summit embodies the strategic vision of the UAE to be a nurturing ground for global creators and a pioneer in the region, establishing the foundations of a modern economic sector within its economic system and engines. The summit aims to attract the world’s leading content creators and representatives of major social media platforms in one platform. Simultaneously, it transforms the experiences of participants into lessons and skills shared with emerging content creators.
Hussein Al Atouli, director of the New Media Academy, shed light on the burgeoning growth of the digital content industry as a key contributor to global economies and an influential player in achieving comprehensive and sustainable development goals. He said, “The digital content production industry has emerged as one of the industries contributing to the economies of regional and global countries over the past decade. It has introduced dozens of job types and professions, simultaneously benefiting from the growing numbers of internet users and social media platform users worldwide.”
Al Atouli continued: “Today, there are over 300 million content creators worldwide, while users spend more than double the time on the internet compared to watching television. The advancements in artificial intelligence technologies promise rapid and unprecedented growth in this sector in the coming years. Everything achieved and attained by this industry is expected to multiply rapidly in a short period with the artificial intelligence revolution and the evolution of its tools.”
He added: “The significance of this industry is not only economic but also social and developmental. Content creators and influencers on social media platforms today address a wide audience of followers, allowing them the opportunity to be part of the developmental scene and supporters of the cultural and social context of each country. Therefore, at the New Media Academy, we have been keen on supporting the National Strategy for Cultural and Creative Industries for the UAE and working to make the UAE a hub for global creators. This is being realised today in the world’s largest event bringing together digital content creators, the’1 Billion Followers Summit’.”
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