According to the UN, creative industries are at the crossroads of the artisan, services and industrial sectors, and a dynamic source for growing world trade, especially in developed countries. But while creative industries have the potential to generate income and jobs while promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development, they are substantially underdeveloped in the Arab world.
Jordan is no exception.
Notwithstanding, well-designed public policies, and encouraging innovation and enhancing creative clusters can take full advantage of the potential and contribution of such industries, particularly in Jordan.
Creative industries are supply/value-added chains of creation, production, and distribution of goods and services that utilise creativity and intellectual capital as primary inputs. They constitute a set of knowledge-based activities, focused on but not restricted to arts.
They comprise tangible products and intangible intellectual or artistic services with creative content that can be broken down into four main groups (cultural heritage, arts, media and functional creations). The four groups are delineated below.
Cultural heritage includes arts and crafts, festivals and celebrations, archaeological sites, museums, libraries and exhibitions, among others.
Arts comprise creative industries that are based purely on art and culture, such as visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography and antiques), and performing arts (live music, theatre, dance, opera, circus, puppetry, etc.).
Media, which are the focus of creative content for mass communication, can be divided into two subgroups: publishing and printed media (books, press and other publications), and audiovisuals (film, television, radio and other broadcasting forms).
Functional creations comprise three subgroups: a) design (interior, graphic, fashion, jewellery, toys), b) new media (software, video games, digitized creative content) and c) creative services (architectural, advertising, cultural and recreational, creative R&D, digital and other related creative services).
Such industries have accounted for 3.4 per cent of total world trade in 2005; exports reached $424 billion in 2005, and an average annual growth rate of 8.7 per cent during 2000-2005.
China was the world’s leading producer and exporter of value-added creative products in 2005. The contribution of creative industries in the Arab world is less than 1 per cent of the GDP; however, with the Arab Spring, such low percentage could improve greatly.
In a study of four Arab countries, the contribution of creative industries to GDP in 2005 was: Lebanon 1.6 per cent, Jordan 0.7 per cent, Tunisia 0.6 per cent and Morocco 0.5 per cent. Except for Jordan, book publishing is the most important in all Arab countries.
The contribution of the music recording industry to the GDP seems highest in Lebanon, followed by Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia and Egypt. In terms of copyright industries, software is the most important in Egypt and Jordan; in Lebanon and Tunisia it comes second in terms of importance and it is least important in Morocco.
In most Arab countries, the film industry contributes less than 0.1 per cent of the GDP, with the highest contribution in Lebanon, followed by Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.
While there has not yet been a published study in Jordan that maps the impact of the film industry, or the creative industries for that matter, Jordan should see an improvement in film industry contribution to GDP with the emergence of new world-class films such as “When Monaliza Smiled”, which, if properly assisted by policy makers and movie theatre owners, can enhance the contribution of film to the GDP.
For example, in terms of policy, developed countries require that a certain percentage of days be allocated to domestically produced movies. As for theatre owners, they should help such movies, and become not only importers of films but also exporters of Jordanian-made films.
While creative industries hold the greatest potential for Jordan, they are still at a nascent stage and require significant efforts to enhance their competitiveness.
Hence, all components of the competitiveness model (inputs, demand, clusters, competition and government policy) should be addressed with urgency.