DUBAI: Saudi Arabian media mogul Sheikh Waleed Al-Ibrahim has visited the Dubai headquarters of his MBC television empire for the first time since being released after last year’s anti-corruption drive.
Al-Ibrahim is a major shareholder in the Middle East’s largest broadcasting company, but was held during an investigation late last year along with hundreds of others as part of an anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Al-Ibrahim was released earlier this year, having been found innocent of any wrongdoing in the probe, and is said to retain his 40 percent stake in MBC, Reuters reported earlier this year.
For the first time since his being held at Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton hotel, Al-Ibrahim on Tuesday visited the MBC headquarters in Dubai, according to a statement issued by MBC.
News of the visit was first reported overnight by Arab News.
Al-Ibrahim chaired a strategy meeting with senior management and more than 100 top executives at MBC headquarters in Dubai Media City, MBC said.
He reviewed MBC’s growth plans and opportunities in markets such as Saudi Arabia, according to the statement.
“With leadership, excellence, determination and cultural relevance, there is no limit to our ambitions. We look ahead for greater achievements, as we confidently expand our plans,” Al-Ibrahim said.
Al-Ibrahim said MBC will shift toward having a greater focus on Saudi Arabia and neighboring markets, in sectors such as premium content production, media, entertainment and technology.
The statement confirmed that Al-Ibrahim retains his original stake in MBC Group, continues to act as its chairman and enjoys management control.
Al-Ibrahim told the Wall Street Journal in March that he was never accused of wrongdoing in the anti-corruption drive, and that he was kept at the Ritz hotel as a witness.
“I was treated with respect,” Al-Ibrahim told the WSJ. “I am sure if you ask anyone: ‘If you could go back would you do it the same?’ They would say no. It’s a new experience for everybody.”
In April, MBC’s Group TV Director Ali Jaber said that MBC’s chairman was “enthused” about the media company’s future plans following a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed.
“After … Sheikh Waleed Ibrahim met with the crown prince, he is enthused about MBC and its future growth into an international organization,” Jaber said.
“It will be responsible for important partnerships between Saudi Arabia and international organizations and Hollywood,” he added.
Since, Al-Ibrahim has also been appointed as a member of a new culture council headed by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad.
MBC has recently also been involved in the emerging film market in the Kingdom, which this year reopened cinema theaters. The group is said to be involved in negotiations with Hollywood producers and international distribution companies for this purpose.