Justin Smith, chief executive officer of Bloomberg Media Group, was speaking after the company signed a deal with Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), owner of Arab News and other newspaper titles, to launch a multi-platform Arabic-language business and financial news service.
SRMG, which also publishes Al Sharq Al Awsat and Aleqtisadiyah, will be the partner in the region for TV, online, print, and audio content for Bloomberg, which will also stage events in the Kingdom.
“It was logical to go into partnership with a media company in the biggest economy in the region. The transformation as articulated by the Saudi Arabian leadership is an exciting story, and Bloomberg would like to play a role by being an independent, unbiased information provider in the region,” Smith said.
He added that Bloomberg shares the same principles as the policymakers behind Vision 2030: “Free markets, transparency, progress and modernity. Our partners at SRMG also share those qualities.”
Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg and former mayor of New York City, said: “The Middle East is an important, economically diverse region and our agreement with SRMG allows us to deliver the sharpest global business and financial insights to a critical audience of business decision makers.”
Bloomberg already has English-language operations in the UAE, with TV studios in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as well as the Middle East version of Bloomberg Businessweek, but this is its first foray into Arabic.
Content will be provided by translation from Bloomberg’s existing English operations, and will also be self-generated by SRMG staff.
“We have set editorial standards which SRMG has embraced. What Bloomberg stands for is self evident in its work. We will operate with the legal media framework of the country where we are, but we will not change our stripes,” Smith said.
Prince Bader bin Abdullah Al-Saud, chairman of SRMG, said the deal would give a boost to the regional media industry. “We are very pleased with this promising partnership with Bloomberg. In addition to the many business opportunities this collaboration brings, we believe the partnership will greatly enhance the media landscape in our region.
“This is an exciting development for SRMG and a strong progression in our quest to offer the highest quality financial and business journalism from, and about the Middle East,” he added.
Bloomberg has been looking for a regional media partner since the demise of the aborted Al Arab news channel 18 months ago.
“They were good partners, but last year we decided to part ways, and we’ve been talking to different partners for most of this year. Leaning into a local language opportunity was always the next step for us,” said Smith.
“The Middle East is a very important markets for us. Outside North America and Europe we focus on markets that are fast growing. The Middle East has been a great market for our Bloomberg terminals business,” he added.
The Bloomberg/SRMG Arabic operation would be based initially in Riyadh and Dubai, though Smith did not rule out a bureau in Jeddah at a later date.