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Wed 24 Mar 2004 04:00 AM

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Let’s get creative

Radio boss calls on region’s broadcaster’s to get innovative.

Abdullatif Al Sayegh, managing director of the Arabian Radio Network (ARN) is calling on broadcasters and television executives to stop raiding the Western world for programmes.

In a passionate interview with Arabian Business, the young chief of the network suggested Big Brother’s failure in Bahrain should be a catalyst for the region to stand and produce its own top quality shows.

“Just because it works there, doesn’t mean it’ll work here,” explained Al Sayegh. “Let’s stop taking ideas from the West, bringing them here and having big dreams of making money out of them, let’s think about things.”

Over recent months the Middle East has seen a sharp rise in the number of reality TV shows such as Star Academy and Pop Idol. While these two proved successful to a certain degree, Big Brother split public opinion across the region. That failure, he says, should spur regional broadcasters to invest in producing regional shows to international standards.

With Dubai increasingly positioning itself as a media hub, Al Sayegh believes the emirate must take the lead in offering alternative and innovative shows to appeal to regional sensitivities, but also across the globe.

“Until now, I still haven’t seen one television programme in the West created by us [Middle East]. “There’s nothing [programme wise] that we can turn round and say, ‘hey look, this is our idea, and we did that.’”

As to the reasons why the region has this lack of creativity, Al Sayegh puts it down to complacency and a lack of drive across all strands of the industry, including the decision makers.

“Why do we always go and bring and bring and bring. We have brains as well, we have the right education, we understand this society more than anyone,” he says. “We have the money, manpower and technology, let’s make this happen.”

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