Everybody, quick, open an office in Abu Dhabi! The oil-rich desert metropolis is opening a new "media hub" consisting of bizarre, bubble-like office buildings, and major news outlets are rushing in. CNN is opening a whole new bureau there! And they'll be joined by the FT, the BBC, Reuters, and some book publishers. How the hell did a city that got its first paved road in 1961 suddenly become the place where news networks simply have to have their Middle Eastern headquarters? By offering reporters more cool futuristic offices, and fewer car bombs: Abut Dhabi took its billions in oil wealth and, through sheer force of will and money, made itself into a default location for news outlets to situate themselves. CNN, for example, can now cover the Middle East exclusively from the Middle East, while staying safely in the lap of luxury. Invest more in Baghdad, where the news is? Or invest in a state-of-the-art new facility in Abu Dhabi, which has far more world-class restaurants and fewer I.E.D.'s?
For CNN the move amounts to a significant investment in the region — a big step beyond its announcement last year that it would expand its international news gathering and add a correspondent in Abu Dhabi. CNN plans to move close to 30 staff members to the city and begin broadcasting a daily prime-time news show from Abu Dhabi on CNN International.
The number of foreign journalists in Baghdad is declining sharply, a media withdrawal that reflects Iraq's growing stability and the financial strains faced by some news organizations.