Wayne Borg of twofour54 explains to Wendy Mitchell how the Abu Dhabi Media Summit has become a must-attend event for global media leaders; and how Abu Dhabi Film Festival is building connections.

The media landscape is changing minute-by-minute in the digital age.

“Rapid transference is happening at all levels,” says Wayne Borg, president, international and CCO of two four54, which is organising the fourth Abu Dhabi Media Summit (October 22-24). “The Summit is evolving the emphasis on digital.”

The event’s overall theme this year is: Leveraging The Digital Age. That will include everything from Netflix “redefining the commissioning of content” to “digital opportunities having a historical impact in education, with e-learning rapidly changing”, says Borg.

Abu Dhabi will welcome up to 500 invitation-only global media leaders to the Yas Viceroy Hotel for the top-level conference, which Borg says is growing in stature after recent years welcomed keynote speakers including Bill Gates, Ari Emanuel, James Murdoch and James Cameron.

This year’s line-up will include speakers from Twitter, Disney, Google, edX, Codecademy, Discovery, Adobe, Zawya and Flip Media. The topics will include the rise of multiscreens, the future of gaming, mobile opportunities, and how digital technology is impacting retail.

“We have speakers from the likes of Twitter, Disney, Viacom, Discovery - those world leaders coming to the summit reinforces how it has become a must-attend event on the yearly calendar,” he adds. McKinsey Global Institute and Booz & Company will be on hand to unveil new research results, too.

‘This region can play a leading role in changing the media landscape’

Wayne Borg, twofour54

With Abu Dhabi itself heavily involved in the media industries, the Emirate is a smart home for such a summit. Consumers in the Emirates (340 million strong) are known as early adopters of digital technology, and twofour54 houses more than 230 media companies. “We’re looking at the global level of challenges for industry, and also the implications of those for the region,” Borg adds. “This region can also play a leading role in changing the media landscape.

As such, one new feature of the Summit’s final day with allow entrepreneurs to pitch their companies and ideas to a panel of industry experts. “They can get that exposure but also potential investment. It ties into the ecosystems we’re building. As the industry is evolving in the region, it’s important that young people are part of that process,” Borg adds.

Twofour54 also organises the Abu Dhabi Film Festival - which overlaps by one day with the Media Summit - kicking off on October 24 with Daniel Schechter’s Life Of Crime. The festival had something of a relaunch last year under director Ali Al Jabri, and this edition builds further on that. “Last year set a new benchmark for us with the film-makers,” says Borg. “We’ve had a great response this year with submissions.

“There is a real diversity of quality films. What the festival has done well is connect the Arab film-making community, wherever they are based.” This year’s Arab selections include Hicham Ayouch’s Fevers, Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji’s In The Sands Of Babylon and Mohammad Soueid’s The Boy From Aleppo.

Abu Dhabi’s new production incentive is also boosting the local film scene - Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Screen Gems’ Beware The Night starring Eric Bana recently shot in the Emirate, and Universal has announced plans for Fast & Furious 7 to also come to Abu Dhabi. “That also benefits the regional industry, because crews are exposed to the best in their field,” Borg says. “That knowledge transfer is invaluable.”