It is no exaggeration to say that the Middle Eastern Countries have come a long way to become the globally-acclaimed hub of the modern entertainment industry, with UAE’s Dubai and Abu Dhabi being the centre of attraction. While many think that cinema in the Middle East came into existence much later than the Western Cinemas, in reality, it was Pathé Frères and the Lumière Brothers; who contributed to the formation of the film industry in Arabian Countries during the early 20th Century. Eventually, the Arabian entertainment industry witnessed significant growth in production activities over the following years, with Egyptian Films dominating the rest.
The slowdown of the Middle Eastern Entertainment Industry!
The golden era of Middle Eastern Cinema did not last long due to various reasons like existing socio-political conditions, tight budgets, problems relating to funds, Hollywood-imposed dominance and many more. Also, the 2011 revolution hit hard the Egyptian entertainment industry, slowing production activities to a crawl. In addition, the complete shutdown of cinemas in Saudi Arabia to safeguard religious sentiments contributed to the further devastation of the Middle Eastern entertainment industry.
Further, many film funds and festivals closed down, specifically in the Gulf region, making the films more dependent on Hollywood funding for support. However, constraints indeed shape creativity. So, even after years of instability, the courageous and persistent efforts that the filmmakers undertook to convey their stories, going over and above all odds, bore fruitful results bringing the powerhouse back to life.
Present-Day Entertainment: The changing landscape!
Today the Middle Eastern filmmakers relish their long-awaited victory; it’s a proud moment for them as the film industry gets broad exposure in the international cinema industry. Thanks to the Saudi Arabian Government, whose effective measure to lift the ban on cinema has generated astounding effects, leading the Entertainment and Media industry of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region by 30 per cent in total market share. Following are the areas facing major digital shifts:
- Television & OTT Platforms: The young generations are always keen on technological innovations in the entertainment field. The virtual and augmented reality games that digital media offers; solve their youthful quest. Hence, alongside television, a notable change has come into play in Video-on-Demand subscriptions like Netflix, Iflix, Starz Play and more with demand for local Arabic content. Also, the easy access to online music fulfils the growing inclination of the young generation, adding to the growth and development of the Middle East Entertainment Industry.
- Digital Gaming: With an extraordinary digital-savvy consumer base and enhanced internet and social media usage, online gaming is a hot space in the Arabian entertainment industry. The youths of these countries are already keen on the virtual reality games that the digital video platform offers. Additionally, the government of Arabian countries like Saudi Arabia have announced to take appropriate actions to generate considerable growth in online gaming, e-sports and other technological advancements to encourage further growth.
- Visual Platform and Social Media Channels: The worldwide pandemic spurred the usage of social media channels and visual platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and so on, proving that the Middle East loves social media. There is a sudden increase in the Instagram user base among the youths ranging from 18 to 24 years, while platforms like TikTok and Snapchat witness continuous increases in membership, shaping the social media relationship in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.
Undoubtedly, the Middle East is the heart of entertainment explosions. While UAE’s Dubai and Abu Dhabi boasts of being world-famous entertainment and tourist attraction, countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya and many more are well-known as industry-leading film producers. Apart from the glorious economic impact, the digital advancement in Arabian Media and Entertainment sector has marked various positive transformations. It has connected the people and shaped their thought processes, thus helping flourish the lives of the Middle East people.