Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) students Ashlene Ramadan, Rana
DOHA: Four women students of Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) will be starting their own digital production company this year with funds they won at a recent Qitcom innovation competition.
The QR30,000 that came with second place will help the documentarians produce multimedia projects on current events in the Arab world for foreign audiences.
“We see a lot of international media companies coming to the region to tell stories about the people here, but they often use producers who aren’t from the region,” said Ashlene Ramadan, during her team’s pitch at the competition. “Our company will allow foreign media companies to commission and produce stories about this region that are told by people who actually live here and understand the culture on a deeper level.”
Ramadan is joined on the project by fellow NU-Q students Rana Khaled, Melanie Fridgant and Shannon Farhoud. Previously, the quartet of journalism and communication majors worked together on the creation of a successful Al-Jazeera award-winning documentary that was featured on National Geographic Music.
Their idea arose after the four noticed the high interest among foreign audiences for high impact visual media on developments taking place across the Arab World. The students saw opportunity in what they identified as a present lack in quality documentaries produced from a local perspective.
“We are extremely proud to see our students using the skills and knowledge they acquired as undergraduates to forge a new path in storytelling and entrepreneurship here in Qatar. Northwestern strives to empower Qatar’s young people to tell their own stories and make their voices heard. We prepare our students for professional and leadership roles in the country’s ongoing media development and provide them with the tools to succeed in today’s digital global economy. ictQatar’s backing of our student’s business plan is a testament to that,” said Everette E Dennis, NU-Q dean and CEO.
On top of supplying the winners with QR30,000, ictQatar will sponsor and legalize the company, and provide two years of office space for the production house.
Following her team’s success, Melanie Fridgant said, “Storytelling is our passion. We want to keep on doing this for the rest of our careers. We have already had success with the documentaries we created and now we have the financial and legal support to create projects and works that catch the world’s eye.”
Having developed their versatility in storytelling, filming, editing and post-production over four years at NU-Q, the company hopes to close the gap between the East and West using their Arab upbringing and a Western education. Their content will be delivered across a trilingual platform of English, Arabic and French.
Fridgant, Ramadan, Khaled and Farhoud will move into their new office at ictQatar before the end of the year.