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Abu Dhabi media summit aims big

Abu Dhabi Film Festival / Middle East Filmmaker of the Year 2012

With Bill Gates and Ari Emanuel among the headline acts, the Abu Dhabi Media Summit is aiming to consolidate its status as a heavy-hitting global gabfest after moving to a new October date.

The first two editions took place in March 2010 and 2011, attracting high-profile speakers such as Rupert Murdoch, James Cameron and Eric Schmidt.

The decision was taken to switch the date in order to link up with the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. It effectively replaces the more regionally focused Circle Conference, which ran before the fest for four years, but was nixed last year as part of a wider shake-up of Abu Dhabi’s media investments.

“We decided this year to align the media summit with the film festival, which gives an opportunity for many participants to sample both,” says Wayne Borg, deputy CEO of organizer Twofour54.

“There’s more and more convergence in our industry between the creative side and the business side, so by bringing the summit and film festival closer together, it produces a critical mass for attendees and participants, and reinforces Abu Dhabi’s credentials as both a creative and business hub.”

The summit, which takes place Oct. 9-11 in the spectacular Yas Island complex, is an invitation-only event, hosting around 400 high-level delegates. About half come from the Arab region and half from further afield.

Requests for invitations this year are already outstripping capacity. “We decide according to both the individual and their organization, and the balance of other participants,” Borg says. “We try to keep it intimate, so that there’s the ability to have conversations and robust discussions.”

It aims to be primarily global, rather than merely local or regional, in its outlook and themes. “It’s about positioning Abu Dhabi as a global platform, by bringing together industry leaders from across the world to address industry issues regardless of geography,” he says. “This year, the focus is very much on digital and how it impacts on virtually all aspects of the media environment.”

But Abu Dhabi is also well placed to host a dialogue between the developed and the developing world. “It’s quite a unique event, because it brings together people from established and emerging markets,” he notes. “Given the current economic environment, there’s a lot of interest in the emerging economies.”

In his keynote opener, Microsoft founder and worldwide philanthropist Gates will explore the road ahead for global development.

He will be followed by WME topper Emanuel taking part in a “fireside chat” on whether Hollywood and Silicon Valley can be friends.

Bob Bakish, CEO of Viacom Intl. Media Networks, will feature in a session titled “Two-Way Street,” which discusses partnerships between Western congloms and local players, such as Viacom’s Network 18 joint venture in India.

Other highlights include Robert Kyncl, head of content at YouTube, debating “the war for the living room” with Uday Shankar, CEO of Star India.

Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation in the office of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will participate alongside Princess Rym Ali, founder of the Jordan Media Institute, in a session titled “Youthquake,” discussing the geopolitical impact of social media such as Twitter, and the emergence of Generation Tweet.


4:30 P.M. Formal opening and welcome by Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman, Abu Dhabi Media Summit & CEO, Mubadala Development Co.
5 P.M. Keynote address on global development by Bill Gates
6 P.M. Fireside: Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley — Can’t We all Be Friends, speaker Ari Emanuel, co-CEO WME
6:30 P.M. Opening reception

9:15 A.M. How Wired, the State of the Digital Planet, speaker Geoff Ramsey, chair, eMarketer
9:45 A.M. Conversation: Internet (Almost) Everywhere, What Works? Magid Abraham, co-founder & CEO, Comscore; Ahmad Julfar, group CEO; Etisalat; and Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, chair, Yandex Turkey
10:15 A.M. Roundtable: Mobile Doubles Down with David Kenny, chairman & CEO, the Weather Channel Cos.; Naveen Tewari, founder & CEO, InMobi; and Jim Wuthrich, president, Intl. Home Entertainment & Digital, Warner Bros.
10:45 A.M. Conversation: Two-Way Streets — Global Media Go Local with Bob Bakish, CEO, Viacom Intl. Media Networks; and Sai Kumar, Group CEO, Network 18
11:15 A.M. Presentation: Digital Economics — Supercharging Growth by Tarek Elmasry, m.d. Middle East, McKinsey Co.
12:15 P.M. Roundtable: “The War for the Living Room,” the Internet takes on television by Robert Kyncl, global head of content partnerships, Google
3:15 P.M. Conversation: Youthquake — Generation tweet with Princess Rym Ali of Jordan; Alec Ross, senior adviser for Innovation; U.S. Department of State; and Alex Asseily, chairman & founder Jawbone/State
3:45 P.M.Fireside: Medium Hot — Brave New Television with Shane Smith, co-founder & CEO, Vice Media Group
4:15 P.M. Conversation: Rock the Casbah with Tom Freston, principal Firefly3
7 P.M. Reception

10 A.M. Opening keynote and roundtable: Betting on Entrepreneurs with Fadi Ghandour, founder & CEO, Aramex; and Wael Atili, CEO, Kharabeesh
10:30 A.M. Special Report: The Connected Generation, Millennials in the Middle East with Antonio Campo Dall’Orto, exec VP, Viacom Intl. Media Networks
11 A.M. Roundtable: Everyone’s Talking — New Media, New World with Sami Mubarak & Mina Takla, co-Founders, Taghreedat, talk with Kaveh Gharib, RTL community manager, Twitter; Burt Herman, CEO, Storify; & Ed Bice, CEO, Meedan
11:30 A.M. Presentation: New Waves
NOON: Keynote: Innovation Rules — Change Is Good by Mohammad Gawdat, Google VP for emerging South East, East Europe, Middle East and Africa
2 P.M. Roundtable: Making It Lessons From the Front Lines with Naif Al Mutawa, founder, Teshkeel; Ihsan Jawad, founder, Zawya; Fahad Khan, founder & CEO, OnePublic; Shaukat Shamim, founder & CEO, Dezine
2:30 P.M. Roundtable: The New Great Game — Making Ideas Work with Ovais Naqvi, senior VP Abraaj Capital
3:30 P.M. Closing reception

Abu Dhabi Film Festival / Middle East Filmmaker of the Year 2012
Showcase for Arab film | Abu Dhabi media summit aims big | Variety honoree Nasrallah mixes genres | Hub projects itself as club for growth

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