Four young women will be starting their own digital production company this year with funds they won in QITCOM’s innovation competition  in early March. The 30,000 QR that came with second place will help the documentarians, all students at Northwestern University in Qatar, to 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 Ramadam, 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.”
Ms. 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 had 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.
Everette E. Dennis, NU-Q dean and CEO, said: “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.” He continued, “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. ICT Qatar’s backing of our student’s business plan is a testament to that,” added Dean Dennis.
On top of supplying the winners with 30,000 QR, ICT QATAR 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 ICT Qatar before the end of the year.