Sessions focus on opportunities for investment, entrepreneurship, social gaming, new media, new technologies, the rise of multiscreens, impact of social media, generational divide in a digital world and the growth in e-learning
The key themes of creativity, globalization and disruption
dominated the Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2013, attended by over 400
leaders in the world of media and technology.
Opening the Summit, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World
Wide Web and Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, gave the
opening address live via satellite, making an impassioned plea for
the openness of the web, a defence of whistleblowers and telling of
the importance of the internet to developing countries.
He was followed by Andy Bird, Chairman of Walt Disney
International, who spoke about the art of emerging market
expansion, storytelling in a global marketplace, as well as
discussing the disruption of linear viewing habits in favour of
digital "snacking". He also focused on the Walt Disney Company's
shift away from exporting American content to global markets to
become locally driven. This is to ensure that dynamic content is
relevant to consumers, reinforcing and leveraging brand identity at
a localized level
Day two - which focused on key topics of globalization,
creativity and disruption - kicked off with Mark Hollinger,
President & CEO of Discovery Networks International and Man Jit
Singh, CEO, Sony India discussing 'big TV,' local exports, the
challenges and opportunities of 4G, content for wireless and the
rising importance of women-centric programming.
Man Jit Singh explained that, in India, the media landscape is
changing rapidly. With the advent of 4G and digitization, the
growth in India will be wireless, and India is skipping over the
wired phase entirely.
"Shortform content will be watched on mobiles and smartphones
and content for wireless will have to be different. Music and
comedy clips work well. In India, the biggest use of the cell phone
is to listen to music, it becomes your radio," he said.
Senior executives from Google, Twitter, Buzzfeed and Adobe went
on to discuss how to leverage technology and new media to build
strong, coherent and consistent brand narratives - from creating
compelling stories for global brands, to how social media
conversation has changed the game for advertisers, the importance
of cost-effective distribution on the internet and the death of the
Talking about the strategies used to leverage the power and
growth generated by digital disruption, Usama Fayyad, Executive
Chairman, Oasis 500 and Eric Gertler, Head of New York City
Economic Development Corporation, gave an impassioned plea for
startup funding as critical to development in the region and the
importance of growing local ecosystems to support these.
Fayyad said that though there was a lot of cash in the Middle
East a lot of it had been misallocated over the years which was a
huge problem for the region.
The way the next generation interacts, communicates and produces
content - and how traditional, digital and social media will have
to adapt to reflect changing technology and attitudes - was
discussed by representatives from Viacom International Media
Networks, the United Talent Agency and Booz & Company.
Eric Kuhn, Head of Social Media, United Talent Agency referred
to the upcoming generation as "Generation C": "young people who
love content but also love to connect, curate and create", while
Christopher Vollmer, Partner & Global Leader, Media &
Entertainment, Booz & Company set out the new rules for global
narratives and content development in a digital age:
"User behaviour is changing with younger people and storytelling
has to change too. It has to become more responsible,
collaborative, and focused on participation. Most interesting new
formats are heading towards this, and are more sophisticated, more
focused on co-creation. It's a more agile kind of storytelling,
A cross-section of e-learning educators gathered to discuss the
revolution in education from what used to be a mix of classroom,
lecture hall and book education into a digital video interactive
experience that is both scalable and personalizable.
Asked by moderator Michael Staton, Partner at Learn Capital, how
existing educational institutions are having to adapt to the new
disruptive experience of education, Badr Ward, CEO of edutainment
software creator Lamsa, stated the best way to educate is by
combining education and entertainment. "The key is interactivity
and engagement. Education and media are complementary ecosystems.
Educators focus on building the curriculum, on education - and all
of us as digital innovators are enabling and complementing
On the final day of the Summit, sessions focused on
entrepreneurship and investment for startups with panelists sharing
their stories of ventures that had succeeded and failed.
In an inspiring session about women and the entrepreneurial
revolution in the Middle East, Zainab Salbi, the writer, activist
and social entrepreneur who founded Women for Women International
and Nida'a Network talked candidly about the role of Arab women in
the remaking of the Middle East. Salbi said: "We need to really
focus on Arab women because we cannot progress economically,
socially or politically without the full participation of
Some of the region's most successful investors and entrepreneurs
talked about the necessary tools for entrepreneurship and building
The opportunity to build successful digital businesses in the
Middle East is 'immense' if companies can overcome finance and
talent issues according to a group of venture capitalists in the
The finale to the Summit was a competition between a group of
early-stage start-ups, where the winner was a new mobile network
emergency airtime provider.