Sheikh Mohammed announces Dubai Media City
The following is the text of a speech by General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the launch of Dubai Media City.
Centuries ago, a poet said, "The sword speaks truer than the book. Its blade separates the significant and the trivial". This poet was unable to see beyond his own hands - but the wise man who said, "The pen is mightier than the sword" had rare wisdom and foresight, for he knew that mankind would progress not at the edge of a sharp blade but through the power of ideas.
The wise man also knew that ideas were only powerful when they travelled from one man to another, through countries and continents, across deserts and seas. And for ideas to travel they had to be written down and spoken and heard and thought about and transformed into action. Ideas and facts communicated well become information and knowledge. And knowledge, as we all know, is power.
We who live in today's cyber age increasingly understand the importance of information and the media that carries this information. The TV set, the newspaper, the radio and the mobile phone are the tools that allow us to utilise this information. But pause and think. If knowledge is power, then the media that brings it to us is the source of that power.
As we look at the dynamic and fast changing media world around us we are continually reminded of the power of media. Improvements in technology are breathing new life into familiar media like TV, radio and print.
New and advanced technologies such as the mobile phone and the computer have expanded the horizons and transfer of knowledge and information, making the world like a small village where people can communicate with each other.
As I look at the global media and entertainment scene, I see five main trends that will shape the future.
First, there is the emergence of the giant multinational with global interests. For example, AOL/Time Warner encompasses all aspects of media. For example, Mr. Redstone, chairman of Viacom, who visited Dubai recently at my invitation, tells me he is targeting 700 million viewers across South East Asia and China.
Also there have always been and shall continue to be strong regional players. Star, Zee TV Networks, MBC, Orbit and Showtime for example enjoy considerable viewer appeal.
Which brings me to the second trend - that of increased competition, where multinationals and regional players compete for viewers and dollars.
The third trend extends from the first two. More entertainment and information choices and a strong competitive environment will drive fragmentation of media habits among the world's population. This fragmentation will bring many challenges in targeting audiences with variety and interesting content.
And the fourth trend, in apparent contradiction, is the growth of convergence. As media channels, entertainment, interactivity and e-commerce come together to create a new paradigm, and the computer and phone begins to merge with the TV set, the world will discover new ways to live, learn, be entertained and purchase.
This brings me to the last trend, where people are faced with availability of a vast variety of information. It will invariably be the content which is the most interesting and informative, that people will choose and will prevail.
Looking around us, we see similarities between the global media scene and the region. And when I say the region, I mean the Middle East, Africa and the Sub-continent. Only a few years ago we had a few TV channels. Today the sky above us is crowded with satellites and over 200 channels beaming into our homes.
Media owners have the chance to take advantage of the massive opportunities and challenges this region and its market brings.
Expansion and variety is the first of these challenges. Expansion into new markets, new media, new concepts. Proliferation creates competition and competition creates choice.
Availability of a wide variety of content in the world and the region, allows the population to choose what they watch, read and listen to. Media habits are changing with the immediacy and at the rate they are anywhere in the world.
Growth is vital for business. As I look across the region at today's existing media capitals, we see trade legislation and practices that inhibit the growth of business. Media owners should welcome a new and free business environment in which to grow and expand free of the constraints they might encounter in other locations.
The UAE will be such an ideal centre. The UAE has uniquely understood the power of the idea, of knowledge and of media. The UAE has understood that to flourish, media needs to be unshackled from policies and practices that limit its independence and creativity.
This awareness and practice of freedom is the foundation of the creation of Dubai Media City. Dubai Media City will offer unique competitive advantages to multinational and regional media business. Giving them the freedom to create with a supportive and solid infrastructure.
Dubai is the regional centre that has always attracted global talent. Dubai will also attract local talent which will be groomed in the UAE's leading educational institutions. We are looking forward to the UAE's own media specialists joining the ranks of the Media City's talent pool in the next two years.
We now move to a fundamental point. Freedom of expression is an integral part of the subject of media, relating to censorship and how content is produced and relayed. I am aware of the vital importance this holds to the media world.
I guarantee freedom of expression to all of you and the right to be completely objective in your views and reporting. Let us do so responsibly, objectively and with accountability and in the spirit of the social and cultural context in which we live.
I entrust you to research thoroughly, gather your facts well and act with moral responsibility. Make no accusations without evidence, cast no slurs without proof.
This freedom will allow and encourage the Arab media to return home, to broadcast and publish once again from Arab land, and contribute to this new regional media industry.
Dubai Media City is a self-supporting concept. It will create a life of its own through its occupants and grow and prosper. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested and the Government of Dubai will continue to make strategic investments where and when required. Dubai Media City has top quality management. I am counting on you in the media industry to be part of making Dubai Media City a great success.
The wise man of centuries ago was right, as the pen is mightier than the sword. He knew the transformational power of the idea and the media that carries that idea. Always remember, "The human mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original size." It only grows larger. Media has the power to effect change and evolve.
As part of this change and evolution, we announce Dubai Media City and I invite you to participate with us in the success of this pioneering project.