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Wed 25 Apr 2007 07:45 PM

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Arab press must 'walk the talk'

Media needs more investment and accurate circulation figures, says report.

The Arab media industry must invest more in people and technology if it is to achieve its potential for expansion, says a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

The Arab Media Outlook 2007-2011 study - prepared in part with the Dubai Press Club (DPC) - was released on Wednesday, the last day of the Arab Media Forum at Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah.

It states that although the media sector in the Arab World is set for rapid future growth, "now is the time for the Arab media industry to walk the talk."

"[The industry] needs to address the issue of underinvestment in skill development and enhance the use of enabling technology," said Marcel Fenez, PWC media leader who presented the report.

"Increasingly impatient advertisers who have a wide range of options will turn away from the print sector unless the industry tackles the issue of providing accurate and consistent circulation numbers," he said.

Hazem Galal, partner of PWC in the UAE, added: "Those media organisations that invest in people will win the race in the new digital media world."

However, the study also indicates that economic and demographic factors will drive the industry.

"Such market expansion and growth in national productivity will spur media spend by businesses and people," said Mr. Galal.

The report states that the expanding populations of Arab countries (the UAE is now home to 5.4 million people, and Egypt has 73.6 million) will also result in increased media spending.

The youthful population of the Arab world is a plus, said the Arab Media Outlook: "The generation adapts to new technologies faster and is more receptive to online content besides being high spenders - factors that reflect well for the growth potential of the media."

The report covers six major Arab economies with a GDP growth rates ranging between 7.3% and 11% (for Morocco and the UAE, respectively) in 2007.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall