In 2018 the National Media Council (now merged into the Ministry of Culture and Youth), the UAE's regulatory body for the media sector, hosted a brainstorming retreat to discuss challenges facing the media sector and to define concrete initiatives to support the development of a modern media sector in the UAE. Nearly 100 participants representing experts, specialists, university professors and influencers participated in the debates which identified innovative solutions to encourage media organizations to develop rich, varied, multilingual content addressing all segments of the UAE society and global audiences. Based on the outputs of the Future of Media Retreat a development program for the media sector in the UAE was prepared.
Some of the initiatives that were implemented as an outcome from the retreat includes:
* Media Lab, was launched by the National Media Council as a means of engaging with media professionals. Media Lab targets three categories of promising young media talent; writers, filmmakers, and game producers. NMC held brainstorming sessions related to the three categories to discuss the needs of each group and to develop initiatives and programs commensurate with their requirements.
* A study on quality of media education measuring the skills and specialization of media graduates in the UAE to identify any gaps in training. The study shed light on potential solutions to fill the gaps either through the establishment of a specialized academy or training institute, or through the establishment of specialized training courses. The outcomes of the study were discussed with key players in the media sector.
* Age Classifications System, a new system issued for the first time in the country and region, includes age classification standards for movies, videos, electronic games, video games comic books and printed and online books, which are traded in the country including the media free zones. It aims to protect minors from the potential negative influences across various media platforms.
* Media Licensing System enables all media licenses and permits to be applied for, processed, and issued online, without the need for physical forms or physical visits. In addition to facilitating the process for media players in the UAE, the electronic system simplifies the process of obtaining necessary permits for international media professionals coming to the UAE on a short-term basis.
* Advertising Guide was issued to clarify the standards for the advertisement industry in the UAE and to protect the public from marketing promotions that do not conform to applicable standards.
* The Grid was a 2019 initiative that created a single event calendar contributed to and used by all federal, local and private entities that support the UAE's media sector in order to ensure the availability of information in one place and in different languages.
* The House Is United was an initiative aimed at dedicating a block of time on all networks to broadcast programs that raise awareness and prompt discussions on social, cultural and economic topics of interest and importance to the residents of the UAE. These topics include innovation and women in leadership positions, to name a few.
* Media Content System regulates the standards and required hours of broadcasting local content by licensed media organizations in the UAE that broadcast content in Arabic through television channels. The regulation aims to double the hours of broadcasting content within five years, and falls within the efforts of the UAE to encourage the production, broadcasting and manufacturing of local media content. The overall hours of local content in 2019 is 3,702 hours.
The UAE government has a policy of making data publicly available and ensuring that systems are efficient. The initiatives launched as a result of the Future of Media Retreat have facilitated the process of acquiring information, services and licenses, required for operating in the media sector.