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WIDE SPECTRUMtwofour54 will focus on films, music, publishing and more
WIDE SPECTRUMtwofour54 will focus on films, music, publishing and more

The media zone, twofour54, aims at developing an indigenous media industry in the Arab Emirates

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are vyingwith each other to become notjust the cultural hub of the ArabEmirates but also its media axis.The recently launched media zone inAbu Dhabi, twofour54, aims at developingan indigenous media industry,staffed by the local people.

Named after the geographical coordinatesof Abu Dhabi, 24 degreesNorth of the Equator and 54 degreesEast of the Greenwich Meridian, thezone envisages establishing the cityas a centre of excellence for Arabiccontent with international flavour.After the launch, Tony Orsten, chiefexecutive officer of twofour54, explainedto media persons how thezone would be unique, how the regionalcontent developed would nothave a Western slant and how thezone proposed to work in associationwith the Dubai Media City. "The focuswill be on a wide spectrum, fromfilms and music to publishing," hesaid.

The 2,00,000-sq.m project, willtake over five years to complete. "Atpresent we have 71 people workingfor us, and in 12-16 months time,we will have a strength of over1,000," he said.

The zone has already attractedseveral large content creation companiesworldwide, including CNN,BBC, Thomson Foundation, RandomHouse, Harper Collins, FinancialTimes, Rotana Studios andThomson Reuters Foundation.

The presence of some of thesepartners was viewed quite scepticallyby journalists from West Asia.They were incredulous about thecontent the zone would be able tocreate post 9/11 with these partners.Orsten tried to convince thejournalists that though they weretalking of a free media platform itwould function within the `laws ofthe land, censorship and culture'.

A credible, home-grown newsmedia is very often reflective of anopen and developed nation. Crediblejournalism is not simply expoundingarbitrarily on controversial issues. "The goal isdeveloping a professional cadre ofconfident journalists and informativenews sources that will helpcreate transparency in governmentand industry as well as foster thenational public interest."

Training is one of the four pillarsaround which twofour54 is built.Tadreeb, the learning academy, isplanned to be the region's premiervocational training academy targetingyoung Arabs and graduateshoping for a career in the industry.It will also provide space forexisting media and entertainmentprofessionals to update their skills.twofour54 was launched at a simplefunction by General Sheikh Mohammedbin Zayed Al Nahyan,Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi andDeputy Supreme Commander of theUAE Armed Forces.

K. PRADEEP

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