x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dubai One to boost UAE content

The English-language television channel backed by the Dubai Government, plans to nearly triple local shows.

Dubai Media is developing a number of new English-language programmes for its Dubai One channel that will begin in October.
Dubai Media is developing a number of new English-language programmes for its Dubai One channel that will begin in October.

Dubai One, the English-language TV channel backed by the Dubai Government, plans to nearly triple its locally produced content from October. The channel has only three locally produced shows, with the bulk of its programming coming from syndicated Western shows such as Third Rock From the Sun and The Tyra Banks Show. The new schedule would bring the number of locally produced programmes up to eight, including an Emirati-hosted talk show, modelled on Oprah Winfrey, and productions aimed at young adults. Reim el Houni, the executive producer of three of the shows, said: "It's really a vision to bring local productions to the forefront, and also just to focus on what's happening in Dubai. "What's nice about all of our shows is that they are giving people insight into what they can do in our city, which is very different than watching Oprah, or what's happening on another continent." Ms el Houni currently produces two of the channel's local shows, Out and About This Weekend, a Time Out-like weekly guide of what is going on in the emirate, and Bonds for Life, a monthly business programme sponsored by National Bonds. The third locally produced show is Emirates News. "Emirates News and Out and About are among the top viewed programmes by adult Arabs in the UAE on Dubai One," said Ghassan Harfouche, the managing director of Middle East Media Services, a subsidiary of the Choueiri Group which sells advertising for the channel. To build on these locally produced programmes' success, this summer, Ms el Houni's team is busy developing The Ranya Show, a talk show that will replace the channel's defunct women's talk show, Her Say. Sarah Isaac, a researcher and writer on the show, who also worked for Her Say, said: "Our target audience are English-speaking expats, and I would say the age group is mid-20s to 40 or 50. We're going for Hard Talk topics, cutting-edge topics." While Ms el Houni said there would also be lighter subjects such as makeovers and identity, the heart of the show would be aimed at discussing things that are hard to discuss. "Some of the issues that we have lined up include addition, adoption and divorce, things that aren't generally discussed in this region," she said. "Looking at it from a local perspective is important. You can easily watch an Oprah, but you aren't getting the regional perspective, you're getting an international one." Other new shows include a current affairs show, an introduction to Emirati identity for expats and a show called Dubai 101 that helps new arrivals do everything from learn cultural expectations to pick schools for their children. Dubai One's new local focus is part of a broader relaunch of the identity of the five channels owned by Dubai Media Incorporated, which also include Dubai TV, Sama Dubai, Dubai Sports and Dubai Racing. Ali Makki, the producer of the celebrity programming on Dubai TV, DMI's flagship pan-Arab Arabic channel, is also in charge of designing Dubai TV's new identity come October. He said the new look will be grittier and more real, as Dubai's brand forgoes fly-bys of the Burj Al Arab in favour of more earthbound street scenes of real people. "This time, it's not going to be just the beauty of Dubai," he said. "It's going to be the vibes and the lifestyle. You will see that we didn't use any digital effects. It is a very realistic point of view - what you feel when you walk on the Dubai street, what you feel when you walk by the Creek, what you experience when you are stuck in a traffic jam, what you experience when you go to a restaurant." The point is to show that Dubai has a unique urban culture of its own, which will only become intensified with the launch of the metro next year. "Before, it used to be about bringing international issues to be consumed locally," Mr Makki said. "Now the local issues are being consumed at an international scale." khagey@thenational.ae