By Michael Garin
Media: local talent, international expertise
It was an unpredictable year for the GCC. In spite of significant geopolitical events, there were clear signs that the economy was turning around. Higher oil prices brought fiscal deficits down, and will likely enable a more expansionary fiscal policy in the year ahead. Non-oil GDP also grew, while corporate earnings finally saw a positive inflection – all leading to signs of more growth.
Challenged by younger audiences and weak advertising, GCC broadcasters operate where creative resources and local producers are in short supply. Consequently, the approach has been adapting international formats for local use. Programmes like Arab Idol have shown this can be done. But suitable new international formats are scarce and expensive.
Image Nation Abu Dhabi has found success by marrying international expertise with local talent to create original programming. Our series Justice, developed by our partner Walter Parkes, producer of Men in Black, Gladiator, American Beauty, I Robot, and Flight, is one such example.
US based writers can’t capture the nuances of Emirati life and our legal system is so critical to creating a successful local television series. So we assembled a team of Emirati creative executives and Abu Dhabi Judicial Department representatives, headed by Emmy winning screenwriter William Finklestein, best known for LA Law and NYPD Blue.
This ‘dream team’ produced a local TV drama series that met both audience expectations and international standards, and which will be seen by television audiences around the world, a first for any domestically produced series. It’s been dubbed, “LA Law meets Dallas in the UAE.”
This is how our channel Quest Arabiya is approaching its lineup to be announced in the new year. We are doing the same with O3 Productions and the series HWJN being co-produced for MBC.
Image Nation wants to create a mass of companies armed with local resources that can sustainably produce these programs. We can achieve that goal in the next five years, if local broadcasters come onboard.