Arabian artists such as Nancy Ajram and Haifa Wehbe are missing out on their slice of US$10 billion (Dh36.72bn) in payments each year because of the region's lack of royalty "collection societies".
These performance rights organisations exist to distribute royalty payments derived from the public use of copyrighted material to singers, music publishers, writers and artists.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, for example, provides a mechanism to enable radio and TV stations to pay for the use of copyrighted material on air. According to the The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, almost $10bn in royalty payments was collected by such societies last year.
But no home-grown system exists in the Arab Middle East, which means that many broadcasters are in breach of local copyright laws.
For example, many of the radio stations in the UAE are breaking the country's copyright law of 2002, which states that copyright infringement is punishable by a minimum fine of Dh10,000 and two months in prison. But this law has never been enforced in regard to TV and radio stations, perhaps because there is no formalised mechanism for broadcasters to comply with.
There is pressure from the industry for this to change, however.
Next month, the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP) is holding a music rights workshop in Dubai, billed as the "first major gathering for the music publishing industry in the Middle East".
The event, on November 9, will be held in conjunction with Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City and Fairwood Music Arabia. It will be attended by Government officials as well as music publishing giants such as Universal Music and EMI Music.
The possibility of a royalty collections society being formed in the UAE will be discussed at the event, says Ger Hatton, the secretary general of ICMP, which represents the interests of the music publishing community worldwide.
"A system of collective rights management is essential in any country," says Ms Hatton. "[The event] is really the first gathering in the Middle East of rights holders from the music side. It's a first attempt for an open discussion … to look at how to effectively protect and promote local and international artists.
"The discussions are quite embryonic. We're not saying we have any solutions … we just want to have an open discussion [on] having a strong copyright regime."
Tighter copyright enforcement in the UAE could "provide a model for the rest of the region", says Ms Hatton. Another aim of the event is to encourage Arabian rights holders to seek royalty payments in other markets where collection schemes may already be in place.
There is a general lack of copyright enforcement in the UAE, says Hussain "Spek" Yoosuf, the managing director of Fairwood Music Arabia, which represents the publishing rights of Universal and EMI in the Emirates.
"It's not that there is a lack of protection in terms of the law, there's just a lack of enforcement," says Mr Yoosuf.
Because of uncollected royalty payments, rights owners are losing "tens of millions" of dollars in the Middle East and North Africa region each year, he says.
Mr Yoosuf says royalty payments should be made "any time music is played, performed, reproduced or adapted in any way". This would mean that hotels and shopping malls that play music over their public address systems would also be liable to make payments to copyright holders.
Royalty payments required by law would represent only a "modest" cost to radio broadcasters. But he says there is a widespread, and sometimes wilful, ignorance of the law in the UAE.
"Sometimes, when we would go and talk to people, even major companies, the people using music in the UAE, they said that there was no copyright law. So we explained to some of them that there is a copyright law which, in broad terms, protects the copyright of music in a similar way as in the UK or US," he says.
"There is in some cases a predisposition of not wanting to understand the rights because it might be a better short-term decision. But the long-term view has to be that whatever little is being paid to the artists actually benefits society as a whole."
Mr Yoosuf says that a collection society, as a "restricted" activity, can be licensed only by the Ministry of Economy, which has been looking into the issue for some time.
"I know of various efforts for establishing a collection society that have come into the UAE over the past five years or so. But I stand by the Ministry of Economy because a lot of those efforts have been trying to establish a collection society for the wrong reasons. What I believe the ministry intends to do is create something that is done to an international standard," he says.
Steve Smith, the chief operating officer of the Arabian Radio Network, which operates stations including 103.8 Dubai Eye and Virgin Radio in the UAE, says he welcomes the introduction of a collections system, saying the issue of copyright is "a high priority".
"It's good to see that things are progressing. However this is not an ARN issue, it's a radio industry issue. That is moving forward also. We encourage discussions [and] are keen to see a process implemented. However, the process, by the very nature of getting it right, is no quick fix," says Mr Smith.
"We are reliant on great music content, and we would like to support that."