Changing face of media in the Middle East

16 Aug 2015

The introduction of a digital platform for media has changed the game plans for all media outlets in the world. In the Middle East the effect of digital media is more prominent in the changes it has brought to their society. Access to information and a way to reach out to the world in form of a dialogue has opened up the Middle East since the introduction of digital media platforms by popular media houses.

One of the largest media houses in the Middle East is the Al Jazeera group. Al-Jazeera, the independent, all-Arab television news network based in Qatar, emerged as ambassador to the Arab world. With its exclusive access to Osama Bin Laden and members of the Taliban, its reputation has been burnishing quickly through its exposure on CNN. Al Jazeera has expanded its reporting systems to Western nations and reports in Arabic and English today. It has live streaming options on its internet sites and has constant news updates through its many media outlets and has thus become a popular channel among the MENA region. Even in the Arab uprising the one media house that gained most benefit is the Al Jazeera. The channels’ comprehensive coverage of the revolts during the Arab springs made it a popular news network in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Several news networks from western nations like CNN and BBC have also set up operations in the Middle East and have managed to gain popularity for their reporting but are still looked upon as outsiders and intruders by the local populace.

Rising mobile penetration is boosting web access and the number of internet users has grown at a 20% rate since 2012. But penetration is still the lowest in the world, on average, because high usage in some countries is counterbalanced by very low use in others. With digital advertising, too, Middle East & Africa is beginning to make up for low spending levels in the past. This rocketing use of smartphones is driving tremendous interest and growing commitment from advertisers.

As observed by a popular research agency these are the five key developments that have happened in the Middle East:

1. Video, forums and eCommerce are MENA’s most popular online activities

2. Nearly 75% of people in the UAE owns a smartphone

3. Engagement with brands via social media increases during festive season

4. Paypal says that the value of the Middle East’s online commerce market grew by 29% last year, whilst the number of people shopping online increased by 65%

5. MENA users upload around 2 hours of video every minute on YouTube

These changing dynamics are creating a whole new landscape for media and advertising personnel in the region. The availability of information and access has become very easy for everyone. Marginalized groups have better access and this has helped them grow their businesses, fight for their rights and voice their opinions.

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