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HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, Inaugurates Arab Advisors 8th Annual Media & Telecoms Convergence Conference:

500 Senior Executives to Deliberate Current Industry Trends During the Two Days of the Conference

Under the royal patronage of HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, the 8th Annual Media and Telecoms Convergence Conference’s inaugural day commenced on June 6th 2011 in Amman at the Four Seasons Hotel. The conference starts in the context of a continued and accelerating mobile broadband boom in the Arab World. The conference is attended by 500 delegates from around 150 companies spanning 23 countries.

HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, inaugurated today The 8th Annual Media and Telecommunications Convergence Conference taking place in Amman at the Four Seasons Hotel. The massive two-day conference brings together top regional and global media and telecoms industry executives.

For the first time ever, the Arabic language has become an asset for growing technology businesses. That was the message delivered by HRH Princess Sumaya Bint El Hassan in her keynote address to the Arab Advisors Group, 8th Annual Media and Telecommunications Convergence Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Amman today.

Praising the work of Jordanian entrepreneurs in putting Arabic online, the Princess said Arabic online content is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years as more than 320 million Arabic speakers demand far more than the one percent of global online content that is currently provided in Arabic: “I am delighted to say that Jordan is the top contributor of Arabic online content today with over 75% of the region’s Arabic content originating in the Kingdom,” said the Princess, “but there is enormous potential for growth.”

In a speech entitled Listening and Leveraging: New Conversations With The Arab World, HRH told over 500 delegates from 14 Arab countries that the Arab World had changed dramatically since their last meeting in 2010: “Our world is dynamic; it is demanding; and it is ambitious. It is fuelled by passion and it is empowered by technology. It is creative, it is hopeful and it is not going back to the isolation of the past.”

The Princess added that new means of expression, particularly Social Media, had revolutionised the way people and businesses communicate with each other and with the market, and the way the market makes its preferences known: “Leveraging this new landscape is the key to our companies’ and our communities’ future progress and prosperity.”

Princess Sumaya said that in business, and in life, the Arab world was crying out for meaningful and rewarding conversations: “And we all have our parts to play in making sure they happen.”

The Princess pointed out that the convergence of trans-national satellite television channels and the Internet was already affecting consumption, politics, the public sphere and almost every aspect of the daily lives of Arabs: “Media diffusion is building a broader choice of content that is oblivious to state borders and blind to cultural difference. Diverse worlds are colliding and an astounding array of connections are being made between Arabs and the wider world. The extraordinary immediacy of this new technology has built a framework for following and analysing developments as never before.”

The Princess celebrated the fact that as the boundaries between media and telecom operators were becoming evermore blurred, under-represented sections of society, such as women and young people, were gaining a new and durable prominence.

Delegates at the official opening ceremony were also addressed by Dr. Khaled Lahham, Secretary General, Ministry of ICT, and on this occasion he said: “Convergence presents the Jordanian local ICT sector with a great opportunity that we cannot afford to ignore. We will continue to focus on enabling the regulatory environment to embrace convergence through the current revision of the government statement of public policy this year.”

“The 2011 edition of the convergence conference is effectively a post-convergence conference. Convergence has already happened where the media and telecom industries have moved from having un-shared certainties to shared uncertainties in that the new business models are still developing in the context of blurring lines between hitherto distinct verticals.” Mr. Jawad J. Abbassi, Arab Advisors Founder and General Manager said. “The Arab Advisors Group is very pleased to have the continued support of HRH Princess Sumaya Bint Al Hassan, which underscores the importance she places on advancing the TMT industries in Jordan and the MENA region at large.” Mr. Abbassi added. “The Arab Advisors Media and Telecoms Convergence Conference has become the primary annual event for bringing together the media and telecoms industries as evidenced by the strong support from the sponsors and the level and numbers of attendees” Mr. Abbassi noted.

Most Arab countries opened up their markets for multiple players, greatly enhancing competition and increasing the number and quality of services. By May 2011, 14 out of 19 Arab countries had fully competitive cellular markets, with the exception of Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Qatar and the UAE- which had cellular duopolies. Fixed services lag, however, with only four countries having competitive fixed telephony markets. Moreover, 14 countries had competitive Internet markets and only 4 countries had duopoly Internet markets.

On the broadcast media front, the number of Free to Air (FTA) satellite channels in the Arab World continues to grow and reached 538 FTA channels by April 2011. The FTA landscape has grown by 438% between January 2004 and April 2011.

The main sponsor of the 8th Media and Telecoms Convergence Conference is Zain. The annual conference also received the support and sponsorships of Qualcomm, ARABSAT, Motorola, Umniah, Ericsson, Orange and Oracle.

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