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'Marketplace Middle East' Defterios: CNN maintains amazing entrepreneurial spirit.

By Hada Sarhan Special to The Star EDITOR'S NOTE--John Defterios is an expert on Middle Eastern business, with more than 20 years editorial experience of business and current affairs. He rejoins CNN to take up the new role presenting "CNN Marketplace Middle East" having worked as an anchor and correspondent for the network from 1992 until 2000, including anchoring the London-based business show, "World Business Today".As a journalist, Defterios brings more than two decades of news experience having covered some of the biggest stories of the century. These include the Gulf War, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the World Trade Centre Bombings, the L.A. Riots and the G8 summits.Hada Sarhan interviewed him about his new program and its goals: What can you tell our readers now so they get to know you more before the launch of the show next week?I am someone who shares a passion for the Middle East, particularly the economic reforms and investment trends emerging from the region today. The history of the region combined with 21st century change is fascinating to me. I have only wanted to do one thing in life and that is to be a journalist (since I was seven years old) and to be able to do while covering almost every corner of the world for the past 25 years has been a thrill.What will be the main focus of your show?As the influence of Middle Eastern business is reverberating more and more strongly around the world, we believe that there is a need in our global audience to understand the business players and issues taking place in the Middle East better. The aim of the show is to fulfill that need. Our audience wants to be better informed about this key region to understand what it means when you hear about companies from the region investing internationally and to be better informed about the developments in the Middle East that could have an international impact beyond this region--which is becoming more and more common.What do you hope to achieve through this show? Do you have any particular message to the Middle Eastern audience?The basic aim of the show is to spot the regional trends in terms of the emerging competition from Dubai, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and also from the economies of Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt and how they compete against each other. Will they have individual selling propositions, or are they all going to be financial centers? Are they going to diversify into other sectors? What is going to be the lasting impact on the region or globally? We will also look at topics like the problem of unemployment which absolutely needs to be addressed in the next 5 to 10 years, particularly at the lower age brackets of society.We want to get to grips with the plans for sustainable growth that could make a huge change for the region? This is the heart of what we're talking about on the show. Plus, there are lots of capital flows and multi-billion dollar deals that will make the region a very vibrant trade block that is going to compete with the US, Europe, Asia, China in the future. Who is your target audience? Is it only businessmen?With CNN Marketplace Middle East, we are targeting CNN's audience of the "global citizen". These are the decision-makers within governments and within the business community who are looking to spot trends around the world. Our idea is to open up a new avenue for investment and knowledge that was perhaps overlooked in the past. We will be targeting businessmen--but not exclusively. As Middle Eastern businesses diversify their investment portfolios, their influence is not just touching the world of commerce but also the consumer--for example if Delta 2 does buy the British supermarket chain Sainsbury's for the Qatari royal family. We therefore believe there is both a curiosity about the commerce of the region and a greater need for understanding of what is taking place here.How will your show distinguish itself from the existing business shows?Our program looks at the Middle East and its business relationships from a business and investment perspective. This is part of the natural evolution of the global economy, moving the stories from within the context of their nation or region and putting them into a global context. So CNN Marketplace Middle East will open a new kind of avenue to what investments are available there and the implications of those investments. Our signature will be to provide analyses and to spot trends of investments taking place, both inbound and outbound, throughout the region. In essence, if you want to know what's happening with the Middle East and its outbound and inbound investments, then that's our program. In fact, we want the CNN Marketplace Middle East to be the point of reference for the international investor. Why is CNN launching the show now?We have had a program called "Inside the Middle East" for four years. It is a very well received program around the world, especially in the region and brings a fresh perspective to viewers of the region that they hadn't seen before. We now want to build on the success of that show and expand into the business of the region.This program would have been premature five years ago, because while Dubai was emerging in the greater business world, all the other regional players were not. Now we have a kind of collective weight of investment happening, inbound and outbound. International viewers are now quite interested in looking at the investment strategies of these different countries right now. So it's good to start to reveal what is taking place and who are the players driving this change. You left CNN in 2000, why did you come back to present this show? My history with CNN goes back to 1984 when I was an intern in its first few years of existence. After more than 20 years the organization still maintains an amazing entrepreneurial spirit, which I appreciate. I have always had a sense of curiosity for international financial news and this opportunity to report and present a program on this region in particular presented an ideal opportunity. A*'Marketplace Middle East' Defterios: CNN maintains amazing entrepreneurial spirit

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Oct 9, 2007
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