Key themes of Globalization, Creativity and Disruption dominate Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2013

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 banner advert.

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, less linear".

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 that."

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 women."

Some of the region's most successful investors and entrepreneurs talked about the necessary tools for entrepreneurship and building new companies.

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 region.

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.

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