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Islamic Lifestyle

SGIE Report 2023/24: Media & recreation sector nets strong investment 

Muslim representation in mainstream media and content creation has shown a promising acceleration. 

From Islamic TV channels to edutainment initiatives, lifestyle to gaming apps, investment and attention has only continued to rise.

With digital technologies gathering pace and demand for Muslim-centric gaming and content rising, Muslim-themed media is expected to be quids in, in the years ahead. 

According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2023/24, Muslim spend on media and recreation was valued at $247 billion in 2022 and is forecasted to reach $344 billion by 2027.

Investment and regulation have been two strong themes in this space. The GCC’s biggest economy has led by example, with government collaborations that aim to bolster the local and regional media ecosystem.

The launch of the Saudi Broadcasting Authority Training Academy, designed to develop a new generation of media professionals, and the $100 million Film Investment Fund, which aims to support local film and media at the Cannes Film Festival, hint at top-tier support and intent. 

Meanwhile, Islamic streaming witnessed a surge, with Malaysia’s Islamic video-streaming platform for children, Durio, raising $2.85 million. Singapore’s Bitsmedia unveiled a streaming service called Qalbox with content that highlights Muslim cultures and identities worldwide. 

Muslim-themed children’s content also saw an uptick in activity in 2022/23. Qatar Foundation launched a series of special episodes of Siraj, its 3D edutainment TV series, to teach children about Islamic values. Similarly, Islamic educational toys are gaining traction, as seen with Desidoll and Zain Bhikha Studio’s sleep-aide app and toy for Muslim kids.

Meanwhile, regulatory overhauls are spreading across Asia and the MENA region, with countries issuing new licensing requirements for social media and streaming services regulatory guidelines. Egypt is drafting a law that would require social media platforms to obtain a license to reach mobile users locally. The country is also planning to tax social media influencers earning above $32,000 a year.

In Saudi Arabia, individuals are now required to secure a license before posting advertising material on social media platforms. Indonesia, too, is planning for a new regulation that will permit media outlets to be compensated by digital platforms or aggregators displaying their material.

From an investment standpoint, a total of 21 deals related to media and recreation in OIC countries were recorded during 2022/2023, 14 of which were disclosed, totaling over $4.9 billion, up from $2.4 billion in 2020/2021. 

The report also outlines key signals for opportunities across the sector. These include an increasing openness to adopting digital technologies to augment traditional Islamic interactions; a West-to-East shift in sport and entertainment attention; as well as growing demand for Muslim-centric gaming and media content platforms.