Ramadan: ‘The Super Bowl of Mideast advertising’

Iraqi actors prepare to perform their roles in ‘The Hotel’ in Baghdad. ‘The Hotel’ is Iraq’s first TV drama in seven years. (AP Photo)
Updated 07 May 2019
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Ramadan: ‘The Super Bowl of Mideast advertising’

  • People spend an average of eight hours a day watching video content during the Muslim Holy Month
  • Investments in digital advertising almost doubled to $63.6 million during Ramadan last year, while advertising on TV increased by 6 percent

LONDON: If the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of the US ad calendar, its equivalent in the Arab world is Ramadan, when media consumption — and advertising — spikes.
People spend an average of eight hours a day watching video content during the Muslim Holy Month, while activity on digital video platforms rises by 122 percent, according to a report by advertising agency Spark Foundry in Saudi Arabia.
It found that investments in digital advertising almost doubled to $63.6 million during Ramadan last year, while advertising on TV increased by 6 percent.
“Ramadan, especially in the GCC, always comes with a heavy activity across media touch points,” the report noted.
“Ramadan is considered to be the Super Bowl of the Middle East. Digital usership peaks from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. while TV consumption peaks from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with comedy shows, drama series and game shows taking the lead in content.”
In Iraq, Ramadan viewers will be treated to Iraq’s first TV drama since 2012 — “The Hotel.”
Despite digital advertising having seen the biggest growth in spending during Ramadan, the Middle East’s biggest TV broadcaster MBC Group says it is “bullish” on the market outlook going forward.
The Dubai-based group is airing blockbuster Ramadan productions such as “Al-Asouf 2” (“Wind of Change”) and “Al-Zelzal” (“The Earthquake”) this year.
“The advertising market is currently going through a phase of ‘transformation’,” said Mazen Hayek, MBC Group’s official spokesman.
“MBC remains committed to investing in and offering the best available premium content that’s acclaimed and watched by millions of Arabs across MENA, during Ramadan and beyond. In sum, we’re bullish and optimistic about the future.”


Qatari network Al Jazeera slammed over ‘Holocaust denial’ film

Updated 19 May 2019
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Qatari network Al Jazeera slammed over ‘Holocaust denial’ film

  • Video on AJ+ Arabic channel claimed Israel was the genocide’s ‘greatest beneficiary’
  • Network suspends two journalists over ‘violation of editorial guidelines’

LONDON: Al Jazeera’s youth channel AJ+ Arabic has drawn widespread condemnation over a video that was branded “Holocaust denial” for claiming the Jews exaggerated the scale of the genocide to help establish Israel.
After widespread public anger, the Qatar-owned network was forced to delete the video, suspending two of its journalists over its broadcast.
The video in question, while not disputing the Holocaust took place, suggested the Jews had skewed facts about the genocide, and that Israel was the “biggest winner” from it.

“Denouncing the Holocaust is a moral obligation, but Israel is the biggest winner from the Holocaust,” the presenter said.
“And it uses the same Nazi justifications as a launching pad for the racial cleansing and annihilation of the Palestinians.”
Many took to Twitter in outrage about the video, with one commentator pointing out the difference between AJ+ in Arabic, and its English output.
Al Jazeera has long been accused of broadcasting extreme material in Arabic, but churning out seemingly more balanced material in English, aimed at a Western audience.

In a statement on Sunday, the network said it had suspended two journalists over “violation of its editorial guidelines.”
“The video content and accompanying posts were swiftly deleted by AJ+ senior management from all AJ+ pages and accounts on social media, as it contravened the Network’s editorial standards,” it said.
The network has also said a “mandatory bias training and awareness program” was required for its staff.