The future of youth television and digital and social media 'natives' key topics
A series of enlightening panels and discussions explored the
ways in which youth consume media in a rapidly changing digital
landscape at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2012.
The event, being held at the Yas Viceroy Hotel from October 9-11
under the general theme of 'Redefining the Digital Frontier', is an
invaluable forum for the analysis of trends, the sharing of
insights and the identification of opportunities for everyone
Mark Gerhard, CEO of Jagex, gave a sneak peak of the new online
Transformers game, Transformers Universe, and talked about the
development of 'browser gaming'. He said Transformers Universe
allows for "far more intense but shorter gameplay sessions", and
predicted that the makers of platforms such as Xbox, Playstation or
Wii would eventually "liberate their consoles and make them more
accessible to the browser".
He added: "We have 2,000 players in the UAE; and 700 of those
are paying, so we have a presence. But we have to come up with
something that works culturally in the right regions and I think
the opportunity will be with sci-fi games."
In a wide ranging roundtable session about how news reporting
and the news cycle have changed unrecognisably in the digital
world, Nart Bouran, Head of Sky News Arabia, Greg Beitchman, Global
Head of Multimedia for Thomson Reuters, and Yousef Gamal El Din,
Middle East Correspondent for CNBC, talked with Bill Spindle,
Middle East Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal.
Bouran talked about the usage of social media as a fact of life
and how Sky news Arabia has had to make social media part of their
DNA with a big focus on technical and editorial integration across
the organisation. On the issue of verification and accuracy he
talked about the need to build relationships with trusted third
party sources, especially in locations which are difficult to
In a global new report sponsored by Google, Booz & Company's
Karim Sabbagh, Global Leader for the Communications, Media &
Technology Practice, talked about the Millennial generation and
what he termed "ADG'ers" - the Arab Digital Generation.
Sabbagh highlighted key findings of the report including the
fact that 83% of this new Arab generation use the Internet daily;
40% watch short videos online for entertainment daily; and 80%
would give up their TV in favour of the internet if they were
forced to choose.
Four out of five 'ADG'ers' do not engage in any transaction
activity online, showing very clearly that the commercial web has
not yet kicked off in the UAE region.
In a conversation session entitled Learning Curves, Melvin Ming,
President & CEO of Sesame Workshop, joined the Summit via a
live satellite link from New York to discuss the future of
pre-school education and the role of media in education.
Ming used the session to stress the importance of the work
Sesame Street does in educating pre-school children and talked
about its commitment to getting children "school ready and life
ready" by using media to help them grow and learn.
When asked about the international reach of Sesame Street and
the possibility of expanding its global reach to include the Middle
East, Sesame Workshop's VP International Robet Knezevic said: "We
are very much looking forward to launching a new version of Sesame
Street in the Gulf soon," he said. "There is a tremendous need here
we can fill with Arabic language content to help on a number of
issues including Arabic language learning, health issues, respect
During a roundtable discussion entitled Youthquake, HRH Princess
Rym Ali of Jordan, spoke about the positive effect of social media
driving civil society debates, but said that freedom of expression
is still an issue in the Middle East. The Princess said there is a
need to look at content to help build a more open society and that
digital literacy is important - as is the overhaul of education
system - so that citizens can make informed, moral decisions.