More than 240 meetings were held during the salon, during which co-funding and rights sharing discussions were encouraged.
Dubai-based content consultancy HConsult successfully concluded the second edition of the co-production salon in collaboration with CABSAT at the Dubai World Trade Centre last week. The salon, founded and run by Heba Korayem, who also heads HConsult, aims to encourage investment in long-form entertainment content to and from the MENA region, including series and films, through collaborative efforts between the largest regional and international media entities. This event took place in a small, invite-only area situated in the VIP section of CABSAT.
Kicking off the event, the opening hour on the first day set the stage for a productive and engaging experience. One of the key highlights was an exclusive presentation by Korayem, who is a market expert on Arabic content. She shared valuable data about the MENA region’s Ramadan peak TV month, estimated to be worth $500m.
Rafal Radawiec, CEO of Polish AI-powered security company Vestigit, presented an analysis of the impact of piracy on the Ramadan Content production industry in 2023. Additionally, insights on the growth of FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television) and ad-supported content monetisation in MENA were shared by Maria Rua Aguete from UK-based research company Omdia.
Speaking about the importance of this initiative, Tony Saab, SVP of Content and Strategic Partnerships at StarzPlay, said: “The co-production salon is an initiative needed as an industry. Since the companies chosen to participate are pre-filtered through a set of criteria, it was easier for us to find relevant potential partners in content.”
The initiative attracted participation from several prominent companies, including several major Arabic production houses in the MENA region including Cedars Art, MBC Studios, Eagle Films, Vox Studios, Arab Telemedia Group, and more than 20 other potential Arabic production powerhouses spanning Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Oman. All of the major regional streaming platforms such as Shahid, StarzPlay, OSN and Jawwy (Saudi Telecom) among others were present. Additionally, major international companies such as Paramount, Entertainment Studios from the US, Greenstone from New Zealand, Zee Entertainment from India, and Yandex from Russia were present, demonstrating global interest in the initiative.
Elena Brodskaya, Head of International Content Strategy at Yandex, an entertainment super App in MENA and one of the leading platforms in the CIS region, remarked: “For Yandex, as a newcomer to the market, attending the co-production salon at CABSAT was extremely useful and helpful. Meeting with the best-in-class producers, top managers of the leading streaming services, and creators in one place is the best way to get a deep dive into the market, learn the latest local trends, and make invaluable professional connections.”
William Page, Chief Strategy Officer of 1001, the fastest-growing VOD platform in Iraq, added: “It was an honour to participate in the MENA region’s co-production salon workshop at CABSAT in Dubai. Our participation in this workshop was heavily centred on identifying content partners that align with our mission and our viewers’ needs. The selection of companies at the co-production salon precisely mirrored our requirements, positioning us on the right track towards achieving our objective of building robust partnerships and further accelerating our growth.”
Around 20 companies, selected based on specific criteria such as the number of hours produced, ability to co-fund/ invest, or having produced for a broadcasting entity that isn’t social media, participated in the initiative. The salon facilitated more than 240 high-quality meetings, encouraging discussions on co-funding and rights sharing. Leading platforms and production houses actively sought high-quality producers to commission new projects and explore innovative ideas.
Speaking about the success of the event, Korayem commented: “The engagement and interest from companies in this edition have been exceptional. We’ve counted over 240 meetings taking place, and from our previous experience, due to the quality of pre-arranged meetings, the ratio is that one deal is closed for every five to six meetings held; so we’re anticipating around 40 deals to be announced over the coming year – we’re talking huge partnership deals, not the straightforward acquisition-type announcements that happen during content markets. This is different.”
She added: “The salon has helped create an environment of collaboration, innovation, and investment in the MENA entertainment industry, paving the way for new ventures and partnerships.”