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National Geographic Abu Dhabi zooms in on local content

I Am Nat Geo Photographer

New reality TV series to discover best regional amateur photographer begins

May 28, 2014 5:48 by



By Nadine Sayegh

When National Geographic Abu Dhabi (NGAD) came to town, approximately five years ago, many didn’t know what to expect: would it use existing global content or focus on creating local programmes?

In short, the answer is both.

The company places high value on creating local content, but also uses existing ones. For instance, I am a Nat Geo Photographer is a reality TV series that has been adapted from the company’s global content to fit the GCC region. It began airing on NGAD on May 21.

Atheryan Sundararajan, head of marketing and business development at FOX International Channels, says: “Photography, as a topic, is very core to our brand, not just on the channel side, but across all of our verticals. And we have a photography contest in the region that actually does very well. Every year, we get 30,000 entries from the Mena region. We always wanted to do something related to photography, but on air as a show. So, when we saw our India office premiere the show, we thought it seemed like a good one for us to air as well.”

The TV show has been shot entirely across a number of significant landmarks in the UAE and will feature six episodes. Its eight contestants vary in age and background, but they all share a passion for photography. The competition’s judges are three seasoned photographers: Laura El-Tantawy, who is a Nat Geo photographer; Jack Dabaghian, a professional photojournalist; and, Matthew Dols, assistant professor of new media at the College of Arts and Creative Enterprises at Zayed University.

In addition to having Nikon as a presenting sponsor, the show is associated with the prestigious Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Awards.

While it might seem perfectly natural for a camera supplier to partner with the show, Nikon has an interesting way of looking at the arrangement. Narendra Menon, regional head of sales and marketing at Nikon, says: “We are a brand that likes to go through a lot of challenges, in a sense that we like our cameras to go through a lot of challenges; that is why we thought this is the right place to work. Our product goes through drastic usage throughout the entire competition and that’s how we show what our products can do.”



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