Q&A: Amina Al Rustamani


Amina Al Rustamani is a major player in Dubai's unparalleled expansion strategy. As CEO of Tecom Business Parks, she has overseen the development and management of businesses that support the growth of knowledge-based industries in Dubai, including Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Studio City, and the International Media Production Zone. Amina spoke to Vinita Bharadwaj for The Hollywood Reporter about the past, present and future of Dubai's rapidly evolving media empire.

The Hollywood Reporter: In developing Dubai into a major international entertainment and media hub, how does the city retain its core identity as an Arab cultural city?

Amina Al Rustamani: We started Dubai Media City eight years ago to nurture companies and content in the region. At that time it wasn't a huge base. We had certain companies operating but also wanted to create a platform that would bring in international companies so they would look at the region with a different perspective. Today we have 1,300 companies from 48 countries in Dubai Media City, including major broadcasters and publishing companies. The major chunk of the companies are in Arabic, so more than a presence, we also have the content producers. The process of becoming a global media player is continually evolving, and we're now focused on the next phase as a media hub and looking at measurements, ratings, industry regulations and development.

THR: Do the Gulf states play a complementary role toward each other in terms of nurturing culture, or is there a risk that the cultural movement could end up becoming cultural competition?

Al Rustamani: It makes me proud when we see other places implement the success that we've enjoyed with our entities. It's not competition. It is complementary to what we do. Before Dubai Media City or Dubai Studio City there were centers of production in the region such as Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait. You can't confine the media to any one physical location. The media also needs to be present in different centers in order to get a more accurate perspective of the culture.

THR: With a predicted economic and financial slowdown in the year ahead around the world, how does Dubai see its role as a global city for media and entertainment?

Al Rustamani: We started closely monitoring the effects six months ago. So far, there is no great impact on our companies. We have not witnessed any large layoffs or shutdowns. But we're trying to understand the situation and look at ways to advise the companies and help them get through any difficult times. There may be an effect, but it's hard to say which companies will be affected, as some companies are still coming in and opening more offices, but we're in touch with all our business partners and definitely monitoring the situation very closely. Some sectors may expand. Some may consolidate. We have to wait and watch.

THR: With the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, do you expect there to be a positive fallout for Dubai, in terms of directing investment here?

Al Rustamani: It's just so terrible what happened there. I really love Bombay as a city. There's such an energy that you experience when you go there. And the Oberoi was a lovely hotel; the people are wonderful. It's a real tragedy. It's really difficult to say whether there will be a positive fallout for Dubai as a media and entertainment hub. There might be, but one can't say.