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Work is well underway in Creative City, a 40,000 sq metre free zone that will be dedicated to a wide range of media-related activities.

The new development, a "one-stop" free zone, aims at attracting regional and international broadcast television and radio providers to Fujairah while also providing other media-related services. The objective is to provide a place where media-oriented companies will be able to easily set up operations. Creative City is expected to provide all the necessary licenses, infrastructure, technologies and associated services. The complex, expected to be completed by 2009, will be divided into seven specialised areas: audiovisual, publishing, graphic design, technology, cinema, theatre arts and a training facility.

The new business park is operated by Fujairah Media, a joint venture between Fujairah Investments - the investment arm of the Government of Fujairah - and Arab International Media Services. Fujairah Media has so far invested $55m into the project.

Habib Hammoud, the CEO of Fujairah Media, told OBG Creative City is designed to attract small local or regional businesses. While many will set up new operations, some will use Creative City as a complement to existing operations located elsewhere, for instance in Dubai Media City.

"We should not be compared to Dubai Media City, as we complement what they offer," Hammoud told OBG. "Creative City's location allows it to offer more space at much more rewarding rates." The lower cost of operating licences as well as rents and other living costs, will further drive total costs down, offering an affordable alternative. The company is expecting this price advantage will attract many small and medium enterprises.

According to Hammoud, Creative City has received a particularly positive reaction from production and graphic design companies.

Among the confirmed customers are three satellite TV stations: Zoal TV, which will cater primarily to the Sub-Saharan audiences of Sudan, Chad, Eritrea and Somalia; Dunia TV, which will target Arab families; and Smartsway, an Islamic channel.

Among the main partners of Creative City is Etisalat, which will build and support the communications backbone for the area. In addition, several options will be provided to broadcasters: channels with international ambitions will be linked-up to the Arabsat and Nilesat broadcast satellites through Jebelsat. Local TV and radio broadcasters, on the other hand, will rely on the existing Al Rufaisa transmission station, as well as on the Jebelcom digital broadcast station. Jebelcom, located in the Hajar mountain range near Fujairah, will be able to broadcast digital TV and radio, under the DVB specification. It will also provide the Middle East's first DVB-H broadcasting solution, allowing for digital video broadcasting directly to handheld devices, such as mobile phones.

The fact that all seven areas of operation will be physically located next to one another will create an ease of logistics and organisation. Fujairah's absence of traffic jams and commuting times will also be key selling points. Dubai's proximity is itself being put forward as an important advantage: once the Fujairah highway is built, Creative City will be a "forty minute drive" from Dubai, concluded Hammoud.

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