In today’s world, content creators rule the internet. It is now a full-fledged industry and is looked at as a lucrative career option. There are more than 200 million content creators worldwide. The first digital media institution of its kind in the Middle East, New Media Academy, organised the 1 Billion Followers Summit in UAE. The destination happens to be the premier hub for content creation which proves ideal for the summit that took place on January 10 and 11, 2024, at the Emirates Towers and the Museum of the Future in Dubai.

The largest event of its kind globally, the Summit brought together over 3,000 content creators, influencers and creatives from all around the globe, including 100 expert speakers, to address and inspire over 1 billion people around the world and discuss new media’s role in supporting economies and contributing to sustainable development agendas.

The 1 Billion Followers Summit was the second edition of the world’s biggest gathering for content creation and creators. It has opened new windows into the limitless future potential of the US$ 250 billion industry with compelling insights from global luminaries at the 2-day expo in Dubai, UAE.

Also Read: From The Creator-Verse: Content Meets Cinema

The Creators & Panels

The prolific humanitarian creator Prajakta Koli a.k.a. MostlySane was a speaker at the Summit under the “A Good Deed Goes a Long Way” panel discussion. She touched upon issues like how to ensure cultural sensitivity when engaging in charitable activities and how to inspire audiences to take positive actions in their own communities. Ace creators like Techno Gamers, Indian Hacker, Saurav Joshi Vlogs, Dhruv Rathee, Myth Pat, Harteerath Singh were spotted at the summit as well.

1 billion followers summit prajakta koli mostlysane dubai uae content creator

Haifa Beseisso (@flywithhaifa), the master of style and creativity spoke at the summit as well. She also interacted with her many fans and followers who attended the event. Egyptian content creator Ahmed El Ghandour Al-Daheeh”, who marked his presence as the summit’s “Ambassador”, underscored the importance of storytelling in order to create an impact; generate empathy and drive attention and support behind any cause.

On its first day, the summit held 12 panel discussions, including a session on ‘Money Mindset for Creators’ featuring Riyadh Al Zamil, Elie Habib, and Amr Mansi. In another session titled ‘You’re Allowed to Take Breaks,’ Haifa Beseisso, Raghda Taleen, and Saif Al Dhahab spoke about the importance of content creators balancing their work and personal lives.

1 billion followers summit panel discussion Haifa Beseisso, Raghda Taleen, and Saif Al Dhahab

Experts gathered to discuss the power of social media platform X (formerly Twitter) in a session called “The Hidden Gems of X” on the second day of the 1 Billion Followers Summit. Panelists included Saudi social media figure Eyad Al-Hamoud; the Emirati professor of political science, Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla; and family doctor and medical influencer Dr. Adil Sajwani. They spoke about the virtues of X and how people get their news from it over any other social media app.

What The Key Stakeholders Had To Say

Alia Al Hammadi

Alia Al Hammadi, Vice Chairperson at UAE Government Media Office and CEO of the New Media Academy, stated that the active participation in the summit’s events, activations, and discussions at both regional and global levels reinforces Dubai’s leadership in fostering a conducive environment for creative industry professionals and emerging talents. This also strengthens the city’s standing as a favoured destination for content creators and influencers from diverse nationalities and cultures.

She emphasised how far the creator economy has come in her keynote message. “In the past few decades, a new sector has emerged – the content creator industry. It created jobs that didn’t exist before. Currently, there are more than 50 million content creators globally. If we compare this to a vital sector, the energy sector, it employs 67 million people around the world. This comparison is to underline this multi-million dollar industry’s rapidly growing importance and limitless future potential,” she said.

Alia mentioned that in 2023, over 5 billion or 61 percent of the global population was active on social media. Today, the market value of the content creator industry is around US$ 250 billion, and it is expected to double to reach half a trillion USD by 2027. This growth forecast positions the sector as one of the highest-growth sectors of the future.

Alia Al Hammadi, Vice Chairperson at UAE Government Media Office and CEO of the New Media Academy 1 billion followers summit
Gulf News

Saeed Al Eter

The Chairman of the UAE Government Media Office welcomed the summit’s attendees in Dubai. He highlighted the reason behind hosting it saying “…the global population spends 6 hours a day on social media. Shaping their opinions, consuming news, learning and connecting. Content creators, therefore, are not just entertaining – they are responsible for creating a positive impact on families and societies the world over.”

He further added that this US$ 250 billion industry will continue to grow, and the country is here to provide the right impetus and platforms like this to make sure that Dubai and the UAE are leading contributors to this success.

Saeed Al Eter 1 billion followers summit dubai government uae

Gurpreet Singh

Out of the 200 million+ content creators worldwide, only 10% of the community makes USD 100,000 or more per year. So, what does it take to flourish in this field? Gurpreet Singh, co-founder of One Digital Entertainment, a company that grooms content creators and supports them on their journey, answered critical questions like these during a panel discussion titled “The Future of Creator Funding.”

A content creator needs an editor, a businessman, a lawyer, a finance expert, and a PR machine, because content creation is not just about numbers; it is also about positioning and perception. While some manage to do all this on their own, they are exceptions. Most creators need a team to support them. Now, these teams are not just brokers; they are support systems that are part of the flourishing and tough times,” he said.

For a creator, when is a good time to have a team? According to Gurpreet, the answer lies with the individuals. “It can be day zero or when creators reach a certain threshold. Creators decide if and when they need like-minded people around them who are equally invested in them,” he added. At the panel, he shared his thoughts on ‘What will companies spend on creators next year?’.

Gurpreet Singh’s company, One Digital Entertainment, has four million creators on the platform. Like Singh, Fabienne Fourquet, CEO of 2btube, Phil Ranta, CEO of Spree, and Omar Hmaidat, entrepreneur, CEO, and co-founder of Dmsgroupme, are strong advocates of building support networks and using them to accelerate growth in this burgeoning and competitive space.

A New Fund For Creators

To the delight of content creators and influencers, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has announced a fund of Dh150 million for them. He also spoke about the creation of a permanent headquarters for influencers. “Today we issued directives to allocate a fund valued at Dh150 million to support content creators and transform the digital media sector,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

These steps align with our ongoing investment in creative talents who will write new inspiring stories that will add to the UAE’s influential media presence on the global stage,” he said. The Dh150m fund aims to support the development of creative and impactful content, help content creators hone their skills and introduce the UAE story, its achievements and cultural contributions to global markets.

The fund also aims to attract investment in new media. Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, said “The fund is dedicated to supporting content creators [and] presents exceptional opportunities for them to fulfil their potential, grow their business and showcase the accomplishments and ambitions of the Emirati people to the world. These efforts will solidify the UAE’s position as a global capital for digital content.

The Summit’s Impact

Over the course of two days, the 1 billion followers summit organised 24 panel discussions, hosting an elite group of the world’s leading social media pioneers. These discussions covered the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in the creative industries and digital media.

The event also featured speeches from top executives and international business leaders, highlighting the role of new media in enhancing community development, the importance of producing content that elevates the audience’s tastes and embedding awareness in generations in line with the summit’s vision.

Up to 195 speakers and content creators from 95 countries and regions shared unique experiences, advice, and secrets to success across the fields of art, sports, education, health, business, and environment. The event attracted 7,000 attendees and participants, including 3,000 content creators, who hailed the platform as a unique opportunity to connect and collaborate with content creators from different countries and cultures.

The summit’s hashtag #1BillionSummit ranked among the most followed hashtags worldwide in the past couple of days, with engagements exceeding 489 million. Additionally, the summit was the focus of 300+ local and international journalists who took the summit’s voice to the world and conducted exclusive interviews with some of the world’s most famous influencers on social media.

And thus concluded the 1 Billion Followers Summit’s second edition in Dubai yesterday, reiterating the importance of digital content creation and its rapidly evolving role in communication, learning, and entertainment, in the region and around the world.