Free zone media cities bring new business opportunities

Fee-zone media cities in the region will create more job opportunities and encourage foreign investment, according to the Arab Advisors.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  April 11, 2004

Free-zone media cities in the Arab world are encouraging the growth of content production, broadcasting and services in the region. This in turn will create more job opportunities and encourage more foreign investment inflows, according to the Arab Advisors Group. In the meanwhile, each zone is carving its own niche in the region. While Cairo, for instance, remains the local Hollywood, Dubai's media city lures new tenants. Presently, three countries in the Arab World — Egypt, Jordan and the UAE — have adopted the concept of free zones for the media industry. Such free zones provide investors and the media industry with a tax-free zone, which enables them to import hardware and software without any constraints. These also offer attractive exemptions on corporate income taxes, especially for exported services and products. These three free zone media cities have been profiled in detail by the Arab Advisors in a report titled “Media Cities in the Arab World”. “While the media cities create potential job opportunities, Egypt has the advantage of having local human resources at a lower wage, unlike Dubai’s Media City which has a majority of foreign workforce,” comments Abed AlRahman Pharaon, Arab Advisors media analyst and co-author of the report. “As a whole, the cost of establishing a media company in Egypt might be lower than in the other two media cities.” The three media free zones have already succeeded in getting Arab-focused media companies and stations to migrate from Europe to the Arab World. “Already Orbit, ART, Showtime, and MBC, to name some, have moved. The main winner in attracting these stations was the Media Free Zone in Dubai. ART has moved to Jordan while MBC moved to Dubai from the United Kingdom,” says media analyst for the Arab Advisors Judeh Siwady. The report, which also explores the various facilities, ownership policies and strategies used by each of the free zones, is being released to coincide with the Media and Telecommunications Convergence Conference in June 2004 in Amman.

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