The rise in local filmmaking talent is also expected to boost Arab cinema
Arabic-language streaming services are expected to grow in the Middle East in 2019, according to the general manager & senior vice president at Fox Networks Group MENA & Pakistan.
In an opinion piece looking ahead to 2019, Sanjay Raina said there is high global and regional demand for local Arabic content.
“I see Arabic streaming services coming of age over the next 12 months across the region. Streaming cannot be limited to a foreign language in an Arab-speaking region,” he said.
“In addition to local or regional audiences, there is a large diaspora of Arabic speakers all over the world who have an appetite to purchase and consume streaming services that give them access to homegrown content from their native countries,” he added.
Arab cinema is also expected to develop to compete on a global level, as the UAE in particular is experiencing a rise in local filmmaking talent, according to Raina.
“I believe that Arab cinema, to a large extent, is coming of age on an international scale. I have no doubt that high quality Arab movies can travel far around the globe and have the same appeal as their Hollywood counterparts. This is equally true for the UAE, where we are seeing the emergence of highly talented Emirati film-makers, both men and women,” he said.
He added that great storytelling has universal appeal, “regardless of what language it is delivered in.”
Raina said the popularity of cinema will continue to endure during 2019 despite the emergence of new content formats such as online streaming, with films continuing to constitute a large portion of TV content today.
“We are witnessing the enduring popularity of cinema, despite this emergence of new content formats. This is true globally, as recently confirmed by Disney’s box office windfall this year. It is also true in large parts of MENA and certainly in the UAE,” he said.
Raina said last year that consumers in MENA will continue to use traditional linear TV regardless of the rise of the online subscription video market, which is expected to increase over 50 percent in the region by 2020.