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Archive for March, 2010

The challenge of the novel

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

On March 29th, ADTV announced in a press conference that it will be producing a TV series based on the award-winning novel “Zakirat AlJasad” (The Memory of the Body) for ramadan 2010. The novel was published in 1993 and went on to win the Naguib Mahfooz prize and sell several million copies (which is no mean feat in the Arab world).

Converting a successful work of print into a television drama will not be easy. We certainly have a great team on board with the writer Ahlam Mustaghanmi, director Najdat Anzour, the scriptwriter Reem Hanna, and the actor Jamal Sleiman. It took a long time to get this project off the ground and I hope it will help bring an intense story to television audiences who are mostly used to lighter fare. The work will also be in classical Arabic, a departure from the current and past dubbing fads but the only choice that will do the poetic original justice.

Every reader will have developed their own visualisation of this novel and it will certainly be impossible to please them all. More importantly we hope to bring this work to millions who have not read the book.

There was a humorous yet poignant point made by the writer Ahlam Mustaghanmi: Shortly after she published her novel, she was interviewed by a magazine. They published a three page article, but readers started sending in inquiries because they couldn’t identify the book being discussed. It turns out the magazine censors had erased the word “body”, found in the book’s title, every time they came across it!

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EPL and Korea

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment

On the 24th of March , we announced a partnership with Humax to distribute HD decoders that will enable viewers to view the Abu Dhabi Sports Premier League channels in HD as of August 2010. Direct-To-Home satellite is one of the three ways, , along with IPTV and web streaming, viewers in the MENA region will be able to watch the world’s favourite league. Concluding this agreement was an important milestone to ensure the necessary products will be available in time for subscribers to catch the beginning of the football season.

As part of our discussions with Humax, I made a quick trip to Seoul. In the course of conversations, I was told several South Korean companies have factories in the North with daily movements of goods and people across the border. Of course there are still problems but this aspect of the relationship between North and South is rarely covered in the media. It is ironic that the Arab world probably has the same misconceptions about the two Koreas due to incomplete information as the rest of the world has about the Arab world.

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment

On Friday the 26th of March, National Geographic Abu Dhabi broadcast a program about the construction of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This is a modest but very important beginning for showcasing content about our region not only on the National Geographic Abu Dhabi channel, but also on the network of National Geographic channels around the world and in more than 20 languages. These channels reach millions of homes and for some viewers, this may be the first positive information they get about the Middle East. There are plans for more programming to be produced locally and covering various countries around the region so stay tuned.

Original socialising

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

A guy in Charlotte, with a crowd, a piano, and Chatroulette running on his laptop. Great way to turn a two way communication into a live event. Youtube video here.

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Great content needs development time

March 19, 2010 1 comment

In April, Abu Dhabi Al Oula will begin to broadcast a weekly series called “3ard khass” or “special exhibit”. In my opinion, this series will set a new standard in quality for a drama series produced in the Arab world. Its story revolves around five young people trying to succeed in the media world. Not only is it cinematographically far superior to any other work of Arabic fiction out there, but I was particularly impressed when it was first pitched to me how much effort had gone into character development, story arcs and plot lines. In an age where most Arabic series are pitched via a fairly generic half page synopsis followed by an all encompassing list of potential leading actors, the level of thinking and detail devoted to the development of the 3ard Khass script was refreshing.

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National Geographic

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I was recently in Washington DC to attend the National Geographic Programming and Marketing Conference. The Nat Geo organisation, spanning the Society, channels, magazine, and other ancillary businesses is certainly facing the same challenges that all media companies are: how to address the changing consumer behaviour that is fargmenting content consumption across multiple platforms. However, Nat Geo has two advantages: a strong sense of mission (protect the planet and educate people about it) that underlies everything they do, and a unified common brand that consistently sets the standard for quality across print, TV and online platforms. Stay tuned for great new multi-platform programming on National geographic Abu Dhabi as well as online and in the magazine.

Abu Dhabi Media Summit

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

The inaugural Abu Dhabi Media Summit concluded on March 11th. The calibre of speakers (keynotes by Rupert Murdoch and Eric Schmidt) and the diversity of attendees was fantastic. The summit further emphasised the interest that global players have in the media sector in the Arab world. I am very proud of how well the event unfolded and the positive reactions from attendees. Work has already started on next year’s event.

You can see Eric Schmidt’s keynote and selected panel discussions on a dedicated youtube channel.

Categories: Media Summit