Twenty years ago, Abu Dhabi’s cultural cachet in the West was as a punch line in the cartoon “Garfield.” Today, backed with petrodollars, Abu Dhabi is fast becoming an international cultural hub and attracting American media companies.
On Sunday, a spate of companies announced that they were setting up shop in Abu Dhabi, an island city that is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The companies are CNN, the book publishers HarperCollins and Random House, the British Broadcasting Corporation, The Financial Times and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charity arm of the financial news giant Thomson Reuters.
Officials from these companies joined local officials in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to announce they would take space on a new 200,000-square-meter campus, called the Abu Dhabi Media Zone, that the government is building for foreign media companies.
The campus is intended to be an incubator that will mix Western media companies with billions in Middle Eastern oil money. It will offer training programs for journalists and filmmakers from the region but, more important, it will be a base for Western companies to do business in the region — and at the same time help the Abu Dhabi government reach its goal of becoming a cultural and media center of the Middle East.
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