The chief of Abu Dhabi's media hub has told the US Aspen Institute why closing the Arabic language content gap is a top priority. The UAE is leading efforts to increase Arabic content online via twofour54, the commercial arm of the Media Zone Authority in Abu Dhabi.
It hosts more than 200 local, regional and international media and entertainment companies. Noura Al Kaabi, the chief executive at twofour54, took part in a discussion panel last week at the Aspen Institute in Washington DC to address the challenges involved. She addressed the impact of the Arabic content gap on the Arabic-speaking community and how twofour54 is working within the UAE, regionally and internationally, to forge partnerships that grows the cachet of Arabic media content.
Global players such as Google and Yahoo have ramped up efforts to increase Arabic content across their products and services.
Google has been promoting Google Hangouts with regional celebrities and recently opened up its YouTube Partner Program in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enable content producers to profit from their videos on the website. Developers at twofour54 have to date launched six Arabic mobile applications and the first Arabic e-book. Serving the Arabic online community is fast becoming a big media opportunity, according to experts. While Arabic is the world's seventh most spoken language, it only accounts for about 3 per cent of all online content and much of that is user-generated like tweets and Facebook updates.
"The digital era started late in Mena. There are three stages in the digital economy, first the telecoms infrastructure, smartphone and tablet penetration, second it is quality Arabic content and finally e-commerce," said Gregory Bolle, the strategic planning head at BPG Cohn & Wolfe. "We are only just entering phase two in the region."