The emergence of a pan-Arab market in modern media industries
The rise and intensification of professional and investment transnational media activities throughout the Middle East today may very well be bringing this region closer to becoming a true pan-Arab market than ever before. The degree of crossborder activities among media professionals at the turn of the twenty-first century is indeed fostering a remarkable degree of interconnectedness among the peoples of the Middle East, from North Africa all the way to the Gulf states. The effects of new technologies, media and increasingly easy travel have already excited much interest in the so-called ‘globalization process’. In the Middle East, however, the exceptionally low levels of outside foreign investment and the use of a shared language have encouraged the emergence of one regional market, increasingly integrated into a global system while at the same time distinctly inter-Arab in nature. This chapter will show that this trend is noticeably true in the case of the culturally influential modern media industries, in particular those related to the satellite industry. At the same time, a detailed analysis of this trend will also highlight the persistently distinct roles played by various locations and nationals in the region – most noticeably Saudis, who finance most region-wide media ventures, and Lebanese, who continue to play a crucial mediating role in the emergence of this pan-Arab market.