This post was originally published by Mark Steadman, on the Podiant Blog.

Founded in 2017 by Chirag Desai, Amaeya Media is not only the first podcast network to come out of the UAE, but a mini creative powerhouse, producing podcasts for brands, under the Amaeya Creative banner.

Dubai’s podcasting scene has been growing, with independent creators beginning to come together at conventions. And like with the rest of the world, the buzz around podcasting in Dubai is increasing. But it’s not without its challenges, and as many creators work on their projects, hoping to secure that contract with the mattress brand or the website building service, the same is true in Dubai.

But Chirag bet early on brand partnerships rather than ad revenue, and has been producing podcasts with brands in areas as diverse as home decluttering, sustainability, and contemporary art.

Finding and engaging audiences

Most major cities are finding their podcast scene, if they haven’t already. But Dubai, and the wider UAE faces challenges, which Amaeya is up for.

We find a lot of podcast listeners but they’re listening to shows from their home countries or internationally… we’re looking at ways to spread more awareness about regional content — this is where the intra-podcaster collaboration is also important.
- Chirag, Amaeya Media

For a company producing original programming as well as partnering with brands, funding that programming is not as simple as knocking together a quick Patreon page, as Chirag points out:

Online payments and the systems around it aren’t the simplest in the region. So for example if you look at Patreon themselves, there are costs then to set up a gateway system outside the region—and worse you incur both currency conversions and transfer costs to be able to actually use the money.

There are also challenges — or as Chirag sees them, opportunities — in growing audiences, before considering monetisation. As with most developed podcasting markets, there’s still a vast majority of people for whom podcast listening is not part of their regular routine, and while these might be harder to reach initially, creators don’t have to think about stealing listening hours from other podcasts.

A local focus

Chirag built Amaeya in response to the failings in some of the modern internet discourse, and wanted to have conversations backed by facts, held between knowledgeable people.

Podcasting felt like the right route to go as it allowed for more long-form conversation, but as these discussions developed, he felt he wanted to tackle on a local, rather than a global scale.

Season two of Tales of the Trade began in July 2019, and the podcast features interesting stories from local entrepreneurs, charting their challenges and triumphs.

We’re also excited to be producing the region’s first podcast talking about sustainability through multiple prisms—companies based in our region doing great work

That show is Forward Talks, hosted by Tatiana Antonelli, the founder of green business directory Goumbook.

There’s also CSR of One, co-hosted by Chirag and American ex-pat Courtney, a show which “aims to be a social initiative to inspire people and communities to think beyond their own platforms and share on behalf of others”.

Amaeya and Podiant

Amaeya FM, Chirag’s network of original shows, was one of Podiant’s first customers to test-drive our network capabilities, and Amaeya Creative was soon to follow. He and his organisation have helped shape our offering, and in turn we’ve been able to give Amaya’s content a home on the web that is customisable and flexible, with pricing that keeps in line with the network’s growth.

I think Podiant has been a large part of enabling us as a business… I wanted the option to grow within the platform rather than my requirements grew. You guys had the best offering (ie not just pricing) and even now I come across posts in groups where people recommend other solutions or complain about their own, and in both cases you see how either the costs for a lack of some restrictions is too high, or they just don’t offer things - like guest profiles, or network level management etc, which is pretty great.

The future’s looking bright for Chirag and Amaeya.

We definitely think we’re on the upswing out here so there’s a lot of growth available to us in terms of the content, categories, the medium as a whole really.

Bring it on. 👊

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