Qatar’s media leaders gather for first-of-its kind discussion of the industry

Senior media representatives examine the present and future state of Qatar’s media sector at forum hosted by Northwestern University in Qatar

Doha, Qatar – November 12, 2012 – Top representatives in publishing, electronic media, digital media, public relations and advertising joined forces yesterday in a first-of-its-kind forum to assess the present and future prospects for the development of Qatar’s media industries.

“This is the first time that Qatar’s media professionals have come together to formally discuss our industry. The active participation here today demonstrates not only that there is an interest in greater industry-wide engagement, but also that Qatar enjoys a vibrant media scene ready for growth. Gatherings like these demonstrate the potential influence our industry could have through greater cooperation,” commented Mohamed Jaidah, chief executive officer of Firefly Communications, during the inaugural session of the Qatar Media Industries Forum, held at the W Hotel on Monday.

Representatives from Oryx Media Services, Al Jazeera Network, Qtel, Qatar News Agency, local papers, as well as other businesses and organizations that make up Qatar’s media sector were in attendance.  The forum was a significant step forward for Qatar’s media industry – while sister cities elsewhere in the Gulf cluster organizations in “media cities,” this forum provided the first structured opportunity for exchange and community-building within Qatar’s media industry.

Northwestern University in Qatar organized and facilitated the forum, headed by NU-Q dean and CEO, Everette E. Dennis. Dean Dennis’ report “Qatar’s Media Scene: Current State and Possible Future” served as the basis for discussion.

Addressing the leadership gathered from across Qatar’s media industries, Dean Dennis remarked, “Media attributes in Qatar, just as the rest of the country, continue to evolve at a phenomenal pace and a number of possibilities have arisen that could lead to disciplined priorities in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 roadmap.”

The assembled media business leaders were divided into groups for roundtable discussions, moderated by NU-Q faculty. Each group debated one of four key sections in Dean Dennis’ report: Qatar’s existing media attributes, barriers to market entry, challenges for media development, and potential areas for media exploration.

In the discussion on media attributes, industry leaders noted that Qatar has a well-established traditional media infrastructure – with a variety of Arabic and English language newspapers, magazines and magazine groups, radio and television, satellite television, digital media enterprises and public relations and advertising firms – and that the country is making clear efforts to foster new media, led by iCT Qatar and Enterprise Qatar.

The barriers to market entry sparked lively conversation. Industry participants discussed a need for clear incentives for investment in media industries, a wider talent pool, increased clarity on comprehensive media law and regulatory framework, and further encouragement for international media firms to establish operations in Qatar.

The discussion of challenges to media development involved proposals to find workable and sustainable business models for subsidized media enterprises, managing the transition to digital media for all media industries, defining the role of government media and communications channels, determining the role of local TV and radio, and expanding the magazine industry beyond luxury, lifestyle and the general business market.

Finally, the participants offered their thoughts on the value of possible future gatherings of media leaders.

Dean Dennis offered a number of suggestions for Qatar’s ongoing media development, and concluded, “We were encouraged by the overwhelming enthusiasm we received from participants, and hope that we can translate the energy in the room today into future productive activities that will continue to build an environment of collaboration within the industry.”