Key players push Dubai TV into future

Satcaster gives slots to fresh ideas, guides talent


Nashwa al-Ruwaini is accustomed to juggling projects. As the ebullient host of Dubai TV chat show “Nashwa,” she has endeared herself to Arab auds with her larger-than-life personality. There is far more to al-Ruwaini than just presenter, however. She produces the show through her shingle Pyramedia and is the exec director of neighboring emirate Abu Dhabi’s Middle East Intl. Film Fest. Pryamedia is also responsible for one of Abu Dhabi’s biggest hit shows, “The Million’s Poet.” That she is able to travel between the rival emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi without being accused of conflict of interest is a testament to her own diplomatic skills and business savvy.


The 27-year-old son of Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed has won himself many admirers in the Middle East and beyond as chairman of the Sheik Mohammed Establishment for Young Leaders. The org has already helped launch the careers of local media execs such as Abdullatif Al-Sayegh, CEO of multimedia shingle Arab Media Group, and Mohammed Saeed Harib, the brains behind “Freej.” The poetry-loving sheik has also witnessed firsthand the power of media. He became something of a local celebrity when he starred in “Al Maidan,” a hit skein dedicated to a native Emirati folk dance that aired on terrestrial channel Sama Dubai.


As the vice president of Dubai Media Inc. and topper of channel Dubai One, Najla al-Awadhi might just be the future of media in Dubai. Born and bred in the United Arab Emirates, al-Awadhi has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the UAE TV industry. At 32, she represents the global cultural perspective that has become a key part of Dubai’s appeal to the West and beyond. She graduated from the U. of New Hampshire with a degree in history; her first career choice — as a women’s rights lawyer — soon got waylaid by the realization that she had a better chance to improve the lot of women in the region if she got involved in the media. She is also a member of the UAE parliament.


Mohammed Saeed Harib has managed to win over the skeptics who doubted whether auds would embrace local animation, and has pushed the boundaries of what can be discussed on a family show with his hit skein “Freej.” The show, which revolves around a traditional Emirati family, has been a hit since its 2006 bow on net Sama Dubai. Harib, who first got the idea for “Freej” while majoring in animation at Boston U., received a startup loan to develop the series from the Sheik Mohammed Establishment for Young Business Leaders. He has since paid the loan back and, in addition to finishing three seasons of the show, is working on a “Freej”-inspired theme park and feature-length film.

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