Leading representatives of the media industry in Qatar identified the importance of transparent access to comprehensive data on the consumption of media in Qatar at Northwestern University in Qatar’s 3rd Media Industries Forum.

The forum, held on Monday 7 October 2013, provided four experts from different media sectors – digital media, market research, online content and news and entertainment – with a platform to present sector-specific data from their own research before a large attendance of top media professionals.

According to Dean and CEO of NU-Q, Everette Dennis, the programme for the session was based on feedback received from media leaders across Qatar in a previous Forum held in 2012. Dennis said:

When asked what were some of the most pressing issues facing Qatar’s media industry, two related issues appeared consistently; that of a perceived lack of data on the media market, and the impact this has on decision making.’

To address these issues, Dennis framed the discussion at the event as a practical question: What data do we (collectively) have on Qatar as a media market, and how might those data be used to improve the decision-making and evolution of media-related enterprises in Qatar?

Sami Raffoul, CEO of the Pan-Arab Research Centre presented data based on advertising revenues in the GCC that showed ‘an exponential growth’ in Qatar’s media market compared to other major media markets in the region such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Raffoul said:

The population of Qatar is growing and [for the market] to keep astride with this growth, the players active in the market should do more.’

Despite this apparent growth shown by numbers, Raffoul said that it remains ‘hard to measure investment in this market at the moment,’ explaining that more players need to enter the market and provide their own data before the investment becomes measurable.

Hussein Fakhri, CEO of Agency 222, showed preliminary research results of Agency 222’s  latest Qatar Thinks survey titled ‘State of the Net’. The survey, which was conducted by the research and digital teams, will be released in the coming weeks.

According to the research, 92% of respondents in Qatar access the web on a daily basis indicating that dependence on online resources is extremely high. Fakhri also added:

It is important for us to invest in research given that access to data is either insufficient or difficult to obtain.’

Panelists also discussed the increasingly digital attributes of the Qatari media landscape. According to Velislava Metodieva, Researcher at ictQatar, the web presence of businesses in Qatar has doubled and social media is fast-becoming the preferred method for government institutions to reach their public. She said:

Qatar’s government has made significant progress in improving its online presence. The Qatari government is embracing technology as a way to boost awareness of government services and enhance interaction with the public.’

The forum was the third to be organised by NU-Q as part of its initiative to gather top representatives in publishing, electronic media, digital media, public relations and advertising in a discussion to assess the present and future of Qatar’s media industries. The owner of Firefly Communications, said Mohammed Al Jaidah, said:

The media industry in Qatar is very loose and this forum is a great step in getting Qatari media on the right track…NU-Q as an educational institution provides a neutral platform for constructive discussions that can help shape the industry.’

NU-Q is the first overseas branch campus of one of the world’s leading media universities, Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 2008 as one of the six universities in Qatar Foundation, NU-Q offers top-ranked programmes in journalism and communication. Graduates of NU-Q earn either a bachelor of science degree in journalism or a bachelor of science degree in communication. The American university also offers students the opportunity to complete a certificate in Middle East studies.