Campaign Middle East newsletter, 11 September

I’ll tell you what, the rents aren’t half going up. And blimey, what about the traffic? It’s impossible to get parked these days. And the whole place is just one giant construction site. No, you haven’t just stumbled upon the letters page for 7Days or the Gulf News. I’m thinking of the main Dubai Media City conversation points.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  September 11, 2005

The tapas menu that takes DMC to the next level|~||~||~|I’ll tell you what, the rents aren’t half going up. And blimey, what about the traffic? It’s impossible to get parked these days. And the whole place is just one giant construction site. No, you haven’t just stumbled upon the letters page for 7Days or the Gulf News. I’m thinking of the main Dubai Media City conversation points. Without DMC’s development just four years ago, the chances are you wouldn’t be reading Campaign Middle East right now. And, more to the point, half of the people reading this article would not be here in the Middle East either. I have to confess that my first impression of DMC was not entirely favourable. Despite the landscaping, pretty lake and giant red tick, it did feel like a glorified industrial estate. Having once worked at a newspaper’s out-of-town office where the only place to go at lunchtime was to the not-very-nice supermarket café over the road, the edge-of-town media concept was not an entirely positive one for me. Of course, at DMC, there are other options, although the snack bars do still feel like, well, industrial estate coffee shops. But it still feels like something is missing. A good work place needs to be somewhere to be enjoyed as well as just somewhere to toil. And even an occasional visit from Destiny’s Child can’t fix that on the days you want to pop in somewhere apart from a Starbucks-a-like. However, that’s about to change for the better. DMC’s first hotel is only about 12 weeks away. And with hotels come bars and proper restaurants. Soon DMC will no longer be the world’s largest dry gathering of media professionals. And it’s not just about the booze — indeed, culturally, it never could be in a region such as this. But for drinkers and non-drinkers alike, it will offer a place to converge. Be they mineral water or beer drinkers, media folk love a watering hole. So the Radisson SAS will have to get its bars and restaurants spectacularly wrong if this isn’t about to become Dubai media’s number one destination. Indeed, we can all sleep easy — one of its restaurants will offer a fusion menu — so that’s okay then. Another will be tapas — better yet, and (slightly) more original too. But having a handy venue at which to socialise also marks the next stage of DMC’s development. Soon it will be more than just a place to work and that’s when it will really start to live and breathe. The other issue people have been talking about is the recent big spike in rents. There is some defence for it though — if the cowboys who launch, then fold, magazines, grabbing ad revenue but hurting the industry’s reputation in the process, are forced out, then it’s not so bad. So long, that is, that the rises do not push out potential entrepreneurs — if there’s only room for the big boys then this would make for a very bland media scene. The foundations have now been built for what is set to become a thriving part of Dubai. In another four years’ time I’m sure it won’t be the rents that everybody is talking about. ||**||

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