Dubai begins independent media drive

Over a year since Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a complete overhaul of Dubai’s media, the first instalment is a spanking new independent radio network.

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By  John Irish Published  May 18, 2004

Dubai’s radio listeners will see the arrival tomorrow [May 19] at 7am of the region’s first radio station dedicated to Arab music ‘goldies’ from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The station, Dubai 93.9, Saut Al Asala (the genuine sound), becomes the first launch from the newly created independent Dubai Radio Network (DRN). “We are filling a gap,” explained Abdullatif Al Sayegh, DRN’s CEO. “Compared to the Western world, which has specialised radio stations for say jazz, rock or blues, in the Arab world we only have two or three types of music stations; Gulf, Pan-Arab and a little North African and most of these stations rarely have music that’s more than two years old.” Some of Arab music’s greatest names will pop up on a daily basis with the likes of Mohammed Abdo, Warda or the legendary Abdul Halim Hafez among the highlights. Targeting the 25-40 year old generation, Al Sayegh suggested the decision to create a radio station based around these decades was to remind people of tunes that often touched them in some way during their lives. Although predominantly music, Dubai 93.9 will also comprise up-to-date news, weather and sports bulletins as well as the emirate’s first helicopter traffic reports. Almost a year since HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced plans to turn Dubai’s media into a completely privately run operation, DRN is the first instalment in the process. “The entire media will be commercially run, so we’ll be going private,” said Al Sayegh. “We’ve had a little support from the government to get us started, but we are young and will be independent.” On the sidelines the announcement was greeted with a great deal of optimism. Souha Abbas, editor of Ahlan! Arabic, was quick to stress the significance of the launch. “I think it’s an excellent and clever idea, because you simply can’t find these songs on the radio. To be honest people are fed up with the modern schools of music, so well done for setting this up.” Elsewhere, plans are also underway to launch a further three stations, including an English language station by the beginning of June.

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