Table of Contents


  • Data Is Beautiful is a multi-year, data-driven study investigating the current state of the Arab documentary landscape. It was initiated by DOX BOX in response to the challenges it was encountering as it carried out its day-to-day activities devoted to supporting documentary professionals operating across the Arab world.

  • This study grew out of questions that arose as DOX BOX developed its various support programs and the subsequent discovery that very little in-depth research had been done in the sector.

  • As of 2017, the team initiated its own research, kicking off with the pilot phase of the research project.

  • This pilot phase included a survey detailing all the Arab documentary films released around the world in 2015 and 2016. It also gathered data on the gender and nationality of the directors and key crew as well as the production and financing credits.

  • This initial, pilot phase quantitative study hinted at a number of trends and eye-opening findings, but the two-year time frame was too short a period from which to draw firm conclusions. Intrigued by the findings of this initial study, DOX BOX decided to embark on a wider, deeper research project.

  • This second round of research, conducted over the course of 2018, comprised a quantitative survey, listings of Arab documentary films released between 2014 and 2017 included, as well as key data on crew and production credits for each entry. It also included a qualitative line of inquiry to explore some of the trends and findings suggested by the quantitative research in greater depth.

  • We regard this work as the foundation for further research into the current Arab documentary landscape. We also hope it will provoke discussion and debate on what can be done to better support documentary professionals operating in the Arab world in the future.

  • In the meantime, we would like to share these latest findings with professionals involved in the Arab documentary scene online, in this publication, and through live presentations at events around the Arab world and beyond.

2018 TEAM

The research was carried out by an expert group, consisting of documentary filmmakers, journalists, editors, statisticians and researchers, who met at four separate workshops over the course of 2018, who also worked autonomously on the various stages of the project.

Project Design and Management:

Diana El Jeiroudi

Qualitative Research – Operators Survey:

Diana El Jeiroudi

Emily Dische-Becker

Guevara Namer

Melanie Goodfellow

Quantitative Research – Film Survey:

Claudia Jubeh

Guevara Namer

Questionnaires & Statistics

Diana El Jeiroudi

Laila Nyrabia

Nihal Zaghloul

Local & International Advisors & Film Experts

Moncef Taleb: Sound Engineer and Producer in Inside Productions, Tunisia

Raul Niño Zambrano: IDFA Senior Programmer, the Netherlands

Soumaya Bouallegui: Executive Director of Doc House, Tunisia

Data Entry & Initial Visualisation

Nihal Zaghloul


Nihal Zaghloul

Zeynep Disbudak

Analysis and Writing:

Diana El Jeiroudi

Emily Dische-Becker

Guevara Namer

Khaled Saghieh

Melanie Goodfellow

Nihal Zaghloul

Data Visualization

Ahmad Barclay

Presentations, Workshops and Print Management

Marion Schmidt

Visual Documentation:

Achtfeld – Germany

Morgane Lincy Fercot – Germany

Amr Kokash – Lebanon

Noor Abed – Egypt

Elise Ortiou Campion – Morocco

Ager Olieslati – Morocco

Noor Khatib – Palestine

Communication & Web

Mai El Gammal

Michael Anisch

Administration & Finance

Michael Anisch

Language Versions

Arabic Editing: Khaled Saghieh & Diana El Jeiroudi

English Editing: Melanie Goodfellow

German Translation: Fabian Wolff

German Revision: Emily Dische-Becker and Michael Anisch


A key aspect of the second instalment of the Data is Beautiful project has been the presentation of findings from the initial film survey covering 2015 and 2016. The resulting first publication, Mapping Arab Documentary 2017, was launched at the beginning of 2018. These presentations were not simply an occasion to showcase the study but also an opportunity to open a debate concerning the research project and its findings.


These discussions with the audience, mainly made up of documentary professionals, also informed the second round of the research project which began in earnest in March 2018. These interactive presentations often led to lively debates around the factors impacting the Arab documentary scene as well as the challenges faced in trying to track them down. They also often generated fresh new perspectives on the data itself, transforming Mapping Arab Documentary into a living, organic document, with different implications for different audiences. Alongside presenting the first edition of Mapping Arab Documentary 2017, the core research team also attended these events to hold expert meetings in situ, where they were sometimes joined by other members via Skype if necessary.


The presentations took place at the following locations over the course of 2018


Beirut Cinema Platform Beirut, Lebanon (March 2018) on 23 March 2018, at Metropolis Empire Sofil Cinema.


Documentary Convention Leipzig, Germany (April 2018) on 14 April 2018, at the Mediencampus Villa Ida.


EuroDoc Workshop Prato, Italy (June 2018) on 5 June 2018.


Fidadoc Agadir, Morocco (June 2018) on 21 June 2018.


Regional Conference for Arab Independent Cinema (RCAIC) – Gouna Film Festival industry platform  El Gouna, Egypt (September 2018) on 22 September 2018.


Filmlab Palestine’s Days of Cinema  Ramallah, Palestine (October 2018) on 18 October 2018.


Carthage Film Festival Carthage, Tunisia (November 2018) in November 2018.


International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)  Amsterdam, Netherlands (November 2018) on 18 November 2018


2017 PRINT

Mapping Arab Docs (MAD 2017) is the first English and Arabic publication of its kind, which compiles information on independent documentary films from the Arab world released in 2015 and 2016.

It is a comprehensive reference that compiles data and gives an overview of characteristics and influences of the documentary film sector in the Arab region.


MAD comes in 2017 in three print-files:

  • Mapping Arab Docs 2015/2016 with analysis and studies
  • Complete listing of films released in 2015 and 2016.

The data collection was made by specialists and was subject to a verification process to ensure valid information on films.

Finally, MAD 2017 is also a promotional tool to expand the worldwide interest in Arab documentary films. MAD 2017 and the film lists will be available for international institutions such as programmers, festivals, markets, screening venues and distributors. 

2017 TEAM

During the years 2015, 2016 and 2017, our team has worked on a voluntarily basis to reach the desired design and size of the study and research. In 2017, some funding was possible to start preparatory work in research, data collection and design. The first print will be out end of 2017.

EDITORIAL TEAM in 2015-2017  (Alphabetically)

Concept Development:
Claudia Jubeh, Diana El Jeiroudi, Guevara Namer, Marion Schmidt

Coordination & research:
Claudia Jubeh

Additional Research:
Anne Kierkegaard, Claudia Petersen, Nawras Ali, Nihal Zaghloul

Film Listing Verification Committee:
Guevara Namer, Irit Neidhardt, Tue Steen Müller

Data Entry & Initial Analysis:
Nihal Zaghloul

Analysis of Data:
Claudia Jubeh, Diana El Jeiroudi, Saleem Albeik, Yasmine Haj

Essays by:
Irit Neidhardt, Nadim Jarjoura, Saleem Albeik, Viola Shafik, Yasmine Haj

Iskandar Ahmad Abdallah, Lamia Sahili, Usama Ghanoum

Claudia Paterson, Sarah Godfrey


Design & Layout:
Fadi Abdelnour, Subtype Studio

Thanks to:
Azza Chaabouni, Emily Dische-Becker, Fadoua Maroub, Guevara Namer, Marion Schmidt and Orwa Nyrabia for extending their help and guidance.

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