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Producing podcasts in the UAE: Exploring storytelling structures

Authors: Sabir HaqueSuzana Dzamtoska Zdravkovska

With convergence of broadband access, computing and telephony, smartphones have empowered listeners to break free from the constraints of schedules and take control of their listening experiences. As a result, podcasts have gained popularity globally and many new people are finally tuning in. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the podcast community thrives with stories ranging from tech, culture and music to Middle East affairs, hosted by a diverse group of expatriates and local Emiratis. This study investigates the burgeoning podcast landscape in UAE, examining content creators’ motivations, challenges and opportunities in this emerging media space. Through in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, including pioneers and newcomers in the UAE podcasting industry, the research explores factors driving podcasting’s rise in the region, such as the need for localized content, the changing media landscape and the significance of community-building and interactivity in podcast creation and distribution. Furthermore, the study delves into podcasting as a horizontal medium, offering insights into how content creators push the boundaries of democratized culture on the World Wide Web. The findings highlight growth and monetization potential within the UAE podcasting market and the challenges and opportunities presented by decentralized podcast distribution. Finally, the research touches upon regulation and standardization in podcasting, examining the freedom of expression afforded by this relatively unregulated medium compared to traditional media forms. Overall, this study provides valuable insights into the emerging podcasting landscape in the UAE and sets the stage for future research exploring the motivations and challenges faced by individual creators and podcast networks in the region.