Monday, December 24, 2007

Middle East and North Africa Media Guide 2008 ed. Ben Smalley

Why this Book?
The number of media outlets in the Middle East and North Africa is growing in leaps and bounds. Governments are gradually deregulating the media market and allowing independent and privately operated television and radio stations to operate.

Bad News
The introduction notes the rapid expansion but it realistically presents the dark side of the media in this region when editor Ben Smalley writes: “More than 200 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003….2006 is the worst year yet for the freedom of the press in the Arab world.”

One glimmer of hope that is recognized is the September 2007 announcement by the UAE Vice President and PM and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum in which he said that journalists in the UAE would not be imprisoned for their work.

Middle East and North Africa Media Guide
This volume is comprehensive with nearly 500 pages of detailed information. It is a reference and guide book to be dipped into rather than read from cover to cover.

When so many newspapers are going bust around the world it is intriguing to see the large list (with statistics) of papers and magazines that have been launched in 2007.

Newspapers from the region are listed from Algeria to the UAE and in addition are listed according to frequency of publication, language and publisher with all the vital details about websites, contact addresses and circulation figures.

There are now well over 1,000 magazines published in the Middle East and North Africa including more than 60 new titles which were launched in 2007.

The various categories indicate something of the strength of current interest and the expansion of these sectors.

The consumer section includes magazines on news and politics, lifestyle and language, entertainment, celebrity and society, men’s topics, finance, teenage and children, students, literature, art and culture, religion, sports, motoring, boats and yachting, homes and properties, computers and electronics, jobs, careers and education, travel, airport magazines, in-flight magazines and business and trade. Each of these magazines comes with details and a thumbnail description.

The business and trade category has received a boost of 23 new launches in 2007 which reflects the booming construction industry in the region and the thriving exhibition industry. These magazines are grouped according to business and trade and Chamber of Commerce and include magazines on banking and finance, insurance, industry, oil and gas, electricity and water, advertising and marketing, print media and broadcasting, meetings and exhibitions, retailing, telecommunications, IT, architecture and interior design, property and real estate, building and construction, transport, aviation and logistics, military security and defence, medical and health, science, tourism, catering and hospitality, agriculture and farming, the environment and law.

If you flip through the channels on your television you will discover that there is a bewildering array of channels, in fact, over 370 free-to-air satellite channels in the Arab world.

Of this number the privately owned news stations currently represent the biggest sector with 56 channels, followed by 54 music channels (music is a big part of Arab culture) and 38 government owned channels.

The UAE has the highest number of channels in the region.

This Media Guide lists the television channels according to country, language and then their focus—business, property, entertainment, music, sports and motoring, maritime, interactive games and chat, children’s channel, religion, education, shopping and pay-TV networks.

Radio is listed in a similar way to television, however, the introduction highlights the trends in radio stations, technology and audience.

News and Photo Agencies
Contact details for news services (government and independent, international and regional) are given along with television news agencies, photo agencies and stock photo libraries.

Production Companies
The guide has a national listing of companies which create multimedia, television and radio commercials, films, documentaries, music videos, special effects as well as companies that hire related equipment when you are producing your own movie.

New Media
This new chapter addresses the new and fast growing media mainly broadcasting via the Internet and including online advertising.

Internet usage figures are listed and these show that the UAE has the highest rank for the region. The UAE experienced Internet usage growth of 79.7% from 2000-2007 and it currently has a population penetration of 33%.

This section lists IT agencies and websites relating to news, business, consumer, trade and the media.

World Media
While the title of the book has a regional focus, this guide contains useful information that relates to a sampling of major international media outlets across the main categories.

And there is More
A further section of this book lists agencies to do with advertising, public relations, direct marketing, advertising representatives, exhibition organizers and media resources.

If you have missed a category or a listing there is a substantial index and people discovering omissions or creating something new are encouraged to write and ask for a listing in the next edition.

Media Encyclopedia
This book is the regional compendium on all aspects to do with the media and marketing. It is comprehensive with 400 new media listings from across the eighteen countries of the region. It is detailed information rather than a book of essays and articles that present views, opinions and forecasts.

Ben Smalley (ed), Middle East and North Africa Media Guide 2008 (Dubai: MediaSource, 2008).

This book is available from Magrudy’s Bookshops in the UAE at a cost of Dh 125.00.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Front cover of Middle East and North Africa Media Guide 2008.