EXCLUSIVE: Saudi-owned MBC Group to launch Persian TV channel this weekend

Updated 03 October 2018
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EXCLUSIVE: Saudi-owned MBC Group to launch Persian TV channel this weekend

  • New station to focus on youth and provide world-class entertainment in Farsi
  • MBC Persia will launch on Oct. 6, initially airing subtitled and dubbed dramas, comedies, talent-spotting shows and Hollywood and Bollywood films

LONDON: Middle Eastern broadcasting giant MBC Group is set to launch a Farsi TV channel this weekend, targeting a huge youth population in what is a competitive media market.
MBC Persia will launch on Oct. 6, initially airing subtitled and dubbed dramas, comedies, talent-spotting shows and Hollywood and Bollywood films.
Mazen Hayek, official spokesman of the Saudi-owned MBC Group, exclusively told Arab News that the broadcaster would start to make original productions for the general entertainment channel by the end of this year or early 2019.
“It’s in the pipeline,” he said. “We’re contemplating all possible genres of original content.”
A major target audience for the channel will be the youth, notably in Iran where the majority of the population is under 30. But Hayek said the channel would have broader regional appeal and that eventually it could be available to Farsi speakers in the US.
“We believe the youth represent an overwhelming majority among the region’s Farsi speakers,” he said. “The youth deserve to have an exceptional family entertainment channel to tune in to.”
But Hayek acknowledged it was a hugely competitive market, with dozens of Farsi channels broadcast from outside Iran the key competitors.
“The list of Persian-language TV channels is long, so the competition is established,” Hayek said.
“We will try to (use) our knowledge at MBC, our lead and expertise in producing content, and in acquiring the best content available, to give the young Farsi speakers an amazing experience.
“Our primary focus would be to compete with the strongest foreign-based TV channels.”
Hayek said the channel would not have a physical presence in Iran, but that he sees advertising revenues coming from elsewhere once the channel is established.
“Nothing will stop us from offering this amazing channel to Farsi-speakers, especially the youth,” he said.
“We hope that the success of the channel viewership-wise, ratings wise, will lead to subsequent commercial success.”
MBC Persia will be available via Yahsat and be complemented by digital platforms and social media channels.

MBC Group had a previous attempt to launch a Persian channel nearly a decade ago. The original channel has the same identity but a different content mix with no original programming and a reliance on subtitling Hollywood films into Farsi. The project was eventually shelved before it’s current revival. 


Arab News women driving cover wins further recognition in DNA Paris Design Awards

Updated 22 May 2019
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Arab News women driving cover wins further recognition in DNA Paris Design Awards

  • Arab News scooped the awards for its front page by “New Yorker” illustrator Malika Favre, which was published to mark the move to allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive
  • It has won numerous awards since its publication and been one of the most retweeted artworks celebrating women driving in the Kingdom

LONDON: Arab News has continued its success on the international awards stage by winning two honorable mentions at the DNA Paris Design Awards.

The newspaper scooped the awards for its front page by “New Yorker” illustrator Malika Favre, which was published to mark the move to allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive.

The honorable mentions were for the categories “Graphic design - Editorial” and “Graphic design - Key art (Posters, covers, illustration).”

"For Arab News to be recognised again on a global scale with this award is a great honor," Simon Khalil, global creative director at Arab News, said. “Our women drivers cover has been recognised with eight design awards so far and this highlights just how important this moment in history was for women across the Kingdom.

 “Malika Favre was the obvious choice for our cover, and her illustration brilliantly captures the significance of this moment on the day Saudi Arabia changed forever."

The illustration was commissioned by Arab News for the cover of a special souvenir edition on June 24 of last year. It has become one of the most retweeted artworks celebrating women driving in the Kingdom.

The cover has won numerous awards since it was published. In March, it was recognized by SND awards, one of the most prestigious in the industry.

In February, the cover image was recognized in the international design awards run by “HOW” magazine.

The DNA Paris Design Awards honors international architects and designers “who improve our daily lives through practical, beautiful and innovative design,” according to its website.