• Dubai committed to attracting industry talent both in terms of companies and individually
  • As space debris continues to increase, better tracking and regulation essential to minimise threats

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The global satellite and broadcast industries focused on the ongoing issues surrounding space sustainability, the threat of space debris, and consumer mindset shifts in content consumption as satellite operators and content producers came together on the opening day of CABSAT 2022, the Middle East and Africa’s most competitive event for the satellite, broadcast, and filmed content industries.

Dubai’s shift to attracting talent bears fruit

CABSAT’S Content Congress opened with a keynote speech from Majed Al Suwaidi, managing director Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, and Dubai Production City. Al Suwaidi identified the growing number of entrepreneurs and Dubai’s shift to attracting talent, as well as corporations as a driver of the media industry.

“We are fostering the right landscape and ecosystem for entrepreneurs to thrive,” he said. “Over the past year, we have seen an influx of business as they invest here and see the potential of government reforms to support the media sector. CABSAT has become a platform of potential, especially this year as it offers numerous opportunities with our focus changing to not only attract companies, but also pioneering individuals.

“Our commitment going forward is entrepreneurship-focused, and at TECOM Group we take it very seriously. We invest heavily in creating the right infrastructure through our In5 arm, which recently saw the introduction of a new dedicated space to accommodate angel investors, venture capitalists, and institutional investors at the heart of in5 Tech Centre in Dubai Internet City.”

Consumer demand moving towards quality over quantity

A panel discussion attracted leaders from regional and international broadcasters to discuss how content reaches consumers and the intricate decision-making processes made to ensure consumers are happy and businesses stays profitable in a time where traditional and digital fight for the spotlight.

Wael Mohammed Al Buti, VP & Chief Commercial Officer, ARABSAT believes a focus on localisation and quality is key to consumer satisfaction on the back of continued satellite adoption. “We have been operating since the 1980s and have become the leading satellite service provider in the Arab world,” he said. “Usually, at Arabsat, we don’t look at quantity, but rather the quality and how we can better serve a specific market. Off the back of new channel launches in Lebanon and Jordan, a recent MENA satellite penetration study we conducted revealed that satellite has a 97 per cent market share in this region. We have seen an increase in the number of HD receivers being used as well.”

Also speaking on the panel was Yuliya Fischer, Director at ZDF Studios GmbH, one of the largest broadcasters in Europe. “Our content is predominantly German, but we are looking at co-production opportunities here in the Middle East,” said Fischer, who oversees acquisition and sales in Asia, Middle East and Africa. “We produced The Killing, The Bridge etc, which really educated us on what binge-watching is – this was before Netflix and Disney+. There is an appetite for content not only from Hollywood and consumer burnout is becoming a thing. If the quality of content is great, there will be people that want to watch it.”

Social Distancing in Space

Running in tandem with the CABSAT Content Congress, the SatExpo Summit 2022 also prompted much discussion with guest speakers from around the world.  With more than 900,000 pieces of debris in space, yet only around 20,000 of them catalogued, the issue of orbital congestion and sustainable, responsible space management is one of the hottest topics within the satellite industry. Alessandro Cacioni, director of Flight Dynamics, Inmarsat, noted that a collision with a piece of debris measuring just 1mm can cause power failure, so a need for better tracking and firmer regulation – rather than recommendation without obligation – is essential.

“When I talk about space debris to non-space people, they visualise the movie WALL-E and think there is going to be a huge circle of trash encircling our planet – that’s not the case, fortunately,” said Victoria Samson, Washington office director at the Secure World Foundation. “What it is going to do is make certain orbits too costly or risky so we will lose the benefit of those orbits.”

The impact of losing such orbits can be found in the human reliance on satellites. Whether it is the internet, television, or mobile phones, in the words of Laith Hamad, VP, Government and Regulatory Engagement & Board Member, OneWeb NEOM Joint Venture: “Satellites are embedded in our life.”

While Cacioni – charged with keeping the Inmarsat fleet secure – revealed that half of all the debris in space has been caused by just three collisions and none involved active satellites, Hamad urged government licensing. “Just now satellites must be deorbited within 25 years – that is a long time,” he said, adding his fleet are all designed to deorbit themselves and use materials that disintegrate on re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere. “There is huge room for cooperation, but there must be regulations, not recommendations that are not binding.”

CABSAT 2022, which is running from May 17-19 from 11am to 5pm daily, is taking place in Sheikh Rashid Halls 5-8 at Dubai World Trade Centre.

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About Dubai World Trade Centre:

With a vision to make Dubai the world’s leading destination for all major exhibitions, conferences and events, DWTC has evolved from being the regional forerunner of the fast-growing MICE industry into a multi-dimensional business catalyst, focusing on Venues, Events and Real Estate Management. Complementary to the primary service offerings are a range of value-added services from media/advertising, engineering and technical consultation and wedding planning, security services and an award-winning hospitality portfolio.

For more information, please contact CABSAT 2021’s official PR agency, Action Global Communications, via: CABSAT@actionprgroup.com