Complex Made Simple

UAE’s media production crews are back: A telling story of rebirth post-COVID-19

As the UAE moves away from the shockwaves of COVID-19, media and film production is seeing a recovery to pre-pandemic levels

A very special short film, Pause, highlights positive ways of dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak In March 2021 alone, a.k.a. Media serviced four foreign productions with further driven by Ramadan campaigns Dubai benefitted from the liberal approach adopted by the authorities in terms of filming

By: Yasser Obeid, managing director, a.k.a Media

Yasser Obeid is truly a veteran of Dubai’s film scene, drawing on an impressive career in the creative media sector spanning more than two decades. He is a dynamic, award-winning producer, visual effects artist, and art director who made indelible marks in the media arena in both London and Moscow, and now the UAE. He wrote this piece for AMEinfo.

The pandemic left every sector of industry reeling with shock. We all had to adapt to the new reality of reduced business, staffing issues and illness, and, of course, working from home.

Reduced business meant reduced income, and we all searched for ways to reign in expenditure and running costs, while being mindful of the need to keep afloat and look after our staff.

Our business, as a multifaceted media agency, did experience a trough, but advertising, film production, and multimedia projects were still in demand. As a visual media production, post-production, and digital company, we were lucky enough to be kept busy, even during the worst ravages of the pandemic.

While we were shocked by the pandemic and its rapid spread, our team rallied around to create a very special short film, Pause, to highlight helpful, potential positive ways of dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Now, as we feel like we are beginning to move on from the shockwaves of COVID-19 lockdowns and their ripple effect on every aspect of life, we have now seen the industry recover to pre-COVID-19 levels.

We have seen client confidence return; after the long freeze, spending began again – albeit with slightly reduced budgets. And that client confidence has been bolstered by consumer confidence. People are delighted to get back into a modicum of ‘normal’ life again, so brands need to ensure they are communicating with flair, expertise, and a      degree of awareness of how things have changed. Creativity is rife, and we have seen some fantastic projects pass across our storyboards.

Production reached its peak at the end of March and the beginning of April 2021, when Dubai was experiencing a shortage of crew, as everyone was booked to work on productions. Crew shortages aside – and those crews are creeping back to work now – Dubai benefitted from the liberal approach adopted by the authorities in terms of filming.

We have found that even with strict COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place, shooting was possible with seemingly minimal restrictions in place.

With this in mind, we saw an upswing in foreign productions in the emirates – companies from elsewhere who took full advantage of our city’s intelligent approach to COVID-19 management and control, as well as its renowned infrastructure, affordability, and excellent locations.

In March 2021 alone, a.k.a. Media serviced four foreign productions. This March production peak was also driven in part by Ramadan campaigns.

As we move into peak summertime, we remain highly optimistic. Even Ramadan, traditionally, of course, a quieter time for the media sector in the Arab world, was busier than usual.

We see this hive of positive productivity continuing until at least July. Then, as we are all aware, we hope to see Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia further easing their pandemic-induced restrictions, and therefore the workload will continue to increase.

In this country’s highly developed, media-savvy market, it’s no surprise that the media sector has not only weathered the worst of the pandemic, but it seems to me that people will increasingly choose to complete their productions here in the UAE, thanks to the unique aspects of the media landscape that converge here to enable the best possible productions to be completed with minimal paperwork, time and cost.

At a.k.a Media, we have the experience, the tools, the knowledge, and the deep market knowledge to help brands, agencies, and filmmakers maximize all that the UAE has to offer. As we fully embrace the ‘new normal’, we are confident that the UAE media production sector will not only survive but continue to thrive.

About a.k.a Media

Not just an agency, so much more than a production house…a.k.a. Media launched in Dubai in 2011, with a disruptive mission to change the way communications are delivered. 

a.k.a. is a hotbed of regional talent, providing 360 integrated communications that make people laugh, cry and feel.