DRIVING A VISION FORWARD
Her Excellency Maryam Eid Almheiri on Abu Dhabi’s media industry boom
“YOU MUST LOVE WHAT YOU do if you work in the media industry, as it surrounds you wherever you are,” says Her Excellency Maryam Eid Al Mheiri.
As the CEO of the Media Zone Authority and twofour54 in Abu Dhabi, media is clearly an industry that has Her Excellency’s heart, and it’s no surprise that she has made a significant contribution to building up the industry in Abu Dhabi.
According to HE Al Mheiri, Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030 has identified media as one of its 12 key growth sectors for economic diversification. Numerous strategies are coming into play in order to build a sustainable and thriving media industry that will also drive forth cultural development within the Emirate.
“In just under ten years, I’m proud to say Abu Dhabi has become a leading choice for content creators,” HE Al Mheiri notes.
From attracting major film franchises such as Star Wars and numerous Bollywood blockbusters to film in the emirate, to hosting more than 470 media companies from around the globe, including CNN and Cartoon Network, Her Excellency explains that the prosperity of Abu Dhabi’s current media sector is due to factors such as its versatility and the locale of the emirate, which is expected to attract more production companies in the near future.
As the CEO of the Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi, HE Al Mheiri is responsible for leading these strategic agendas and, as part of her role in twofour54, she is working towards increasing engagement and collaboration between public and private sectors, as well as local and foreign ones.
She is also a board member of the Abu Dhabi Media Company and was recently appointed the acting Director General of the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office.
Named one of the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women by Forbes last year, HE Al Mheiri’s career growth and prominent position in Abu Dhabi’s media industry evidently has a lot to do with the fact that it involves elements she holds dear.
“I am passionate about two things: the economy and our people,” she says. “Everything I get involved in has one thing in common: to drive Abu Dhabi forward. This may be through developing the media industry, creating and inspiring our youth through Arabic content, attracting investment, growing the economy, or working on social initiatives to promote the values of our nation of inclusion, such as the Special Olympics.”
Her Excellency’s passion is evidenced by the numerous other notable caps she dons: HE Al Mheiri is a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council’s Economic Development Committee and the Abu Dhabi Investment Committee; she is also a board member of Special Olympics UAE and the Higher Committee for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, which will be held in Abu Dhabi.
As part of its internship initiative, twofour54 works closely with educational institutions that have dedicated programs for media and other creative industries to adapt curricula for the rapidly changing needs of content creators in the region. One of their goals is to nurture upcoming talent and tackle the challenge of changing the perception of media as a viable career over other traditional choices, notes HE Al Mheiri.
She adds that, today, media is deeply entangled with daily life, and believes this is a great opportunity rather than a challenge. Media’s omnipresence enables today’s youth to explore diverse cultures and topics, allowing them to learn, share and experience, she notes: “This opens doors to take quality Arabic content to the rest of the world. The shift from traditional to digital media has empowered our youth and entrepreneurs to take their stories to a world stage.”
In light of these prospects, Her Excellency’s advice to the new generation is “never forget that opportunity is all around us. We live in a country that believes in us and wants us to succeed. So, work hard, stay focused, seize these opportunities and we will all grow together as a nation.”