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Report indicates shifting and expanding media industries in Middle East

- One of the findings' highlights: France plays a central role in independent Arab film

Report indicates shifting and expanding media industries in Middle East

Media Industries in the Middle East, 2016, a new report by Northwestern University in Qatar in partnership with the Doha Film Institute, unveiled as part of the Qumra gathering on March 8, points to shifts in regional media offerings of the Middle East. 

This report shows that there has been an expansion of media channels and content coming from a wider and more diverse range of sources, including local and international players not usually associated with this industry in the Middle East.

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The region-wide study points to an overall expansion of channels and offerings across all sectors, including broadcast, print, and digital media. The new content also represents wider variety, created by broader diversity of content producers.

Previous research suggested that regional audiences are both hungry for content, reflecting their own culture, and are generally open to media from other parts of the world; they were, however, limited by the mass-market options available to them. The recent expansion of channels and offerings is obviously diminishing the disconnect between what audiences in the Middle East want and the media that they can access.

Some highlights of the findings, related to the film sector:

  • In two of the biggest MENA cinema markets – Lebanon and Egypt – Arabic-language films earned more at the box office per title than non-Arabic films. This is despite Arabic-language films claiming only a fraction of box office revenues overall throughout the region.
  • Although Egyptian films claimed nearly all box office revenue generated by Arabic-language films in Egypt and the UAE since 2012, Lebanese films made up nearly two-thirds of box office revenue in their own country over the same period. 
  • Analysis of previously unreleased data compiled by the Doha Film Institute reveals a robust independent film scene in the Arab World, which reflects far greater diversity than the relatively homogeneous mainstream cinema that has been the norm in the Middle East.
  • Independent films are twice as likely to have female directors and originate in a far wider range of countries than their mainstream cinema counterparts.
  • Egypt is not only home to “commercial” mainstream films: writers, directors, and producers of independent film are more likely to be Egyptian than any other nationality overall.
  • France plays a central role in independent Arab film – far more than any other country outside the region.
  • Lebanese is the most common nationality of writers and directors of higher-budget independent films.

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Source: Doha Film Institute - DFI

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