Entrepreneur Development Program Offers Training for Media Professionals in Qatar

Doha Harbor, Qatar

In January, 14 media professionals from throughout the Middle East and North Africa convened in Doha, Qatar for an intensive course designed to develop the business skills needed to launch media companies. This program is part of the Middle East Entrepreneur Training (MEET) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State Middle East Partnership Initiative and managed by the Rady School’s Entrepreneur Development Program.

Since its inception in 2004, the MEET program has provided intensive business and leadership training to nearly 400 talented, high-potential leaders in the Middle East and North Africa. Initially, the program focused on offering multi-week training programs for business executives and managers from growth-oriented companies. As the MEET program proved successful in building peer networks and driving business development and job creation, the U.S. Department of State extended the program’s reach to include training for “social entrepreneurs.” This opened the training to the leaders of civil society organizations that support causes such as education, women’s rights and environmental issues in the Arab world.

The recent media-focused training program marks another new application of the MEET program’s practical business and leadership training: offering it to leaders in a newly developing business sector.

“What drove the creation of a media-focused MEET course is the fact that more countries in the region are gaining freedom of the media,” says Rob Fuller, director of the Rady School’s Entrepreneur Development Program. “For the first time in some cases, private media companies are being allowed to develop.”

Participants in the media course included journalists, editors, publishers and producers from print, television and online media, most of whom have backgrounds working in government media outlets. Training instructors included media industry experts from both the U.S. and the Middle East. Participants said they especially valued sessions on developing business models and adapting to rapid changes in the ways media businesses operate. They also appreciated the opportunity to network with peers from throughout the region.

Vani Saraswathi, managing editor for a publishing company in Qatar, said the training helped her see her company�s work in a new light. “As a journalist by training and experience, I couldn’t always grasp the business dynamics of the unit I now run. The program helped me better understand why some initiatives worked and others didn’t, and what I could do in future to make more educated decisions.”

Another MEET course for media professionals is being planned in May.