Arab News to launch French edition, appoints Paris Chief Correspondent

Arab News en Français Chief Correspondent in Paris Randa Takieddine (L) and Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Arab News. (AN Photo)
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Updated 22 June 2020

Arab News to launch French edition, appoints Paris Chief Correspondent

  • Arab News en Français will be the third international digital edition of the leading pan-Arab English language daily

PARIS: Arab News, the Middle East’s leading English-language daily, is to launch a new digital French edition: Arab News en Français. The Riyadh-based daily also announces the appointment of veteran journalist Randa Takieddine as its Chief Correspondent to the French capital, Paris.

The new edition will go live on July 14, coinciding with the French National Day. It will be inaugurated virtually by the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, François Gouyette. The launch event will bring together a number of high-profile Arab and French speakers, and will be conducted via a Zoom video conference and live-streamed on YouTube and other Arab News social media platforms. 

Arab News en Français will be the third international digital edition of the leading pan-Arab English language daily. It follows the success of Arab News Pakistan, launched in February 2018, and Arab News Japan, launched in October 2019.

"We are delighted to be launching Arab News en Français as part of our ongoing 'more digital, more global' strategy. This means we can bring our quality journalism to a whole new audience which is of enormous significance to us given France's historic importance to the region and the large number of  French-speaking Arabs worldwide," said Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Arab News. 

"We are also equally delighted to announce the appointment of Randa Takieddine as our Chief Paris Correspondent. Randa brings years of journalistic experience and a vast understanding of Arab-French relations. She will be supported by a team of highly qualified reporters in Paris and other French speaking Arab and African countries," he added. 

Takeidine has been a bureau chief and has reported in Paris since 1974 for numerous pan Arab publications such as Al Hayat and Annahar. 

Her work has been recognized with the French Legion d’honneur which was bestowed upon her personally by the late President Jacques Chirac. 

"I am honored and pleased to be part of Arab News in Paris and in its new French edition. It is a challenging and exciting task to be contributing to a better understanding of Arab affairs by French public opinion and vice versa," said Takieddine. 

Arab News is part of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). It has been the English newspaper of record for Saudi Arabia and the region since its establishment in 1975.

Malaysia welcomes its first halal TV streaming service

Updated 22 September 2020

Malaysia welcomes its first halal TV streaming service

  • Service attracts more than 10,000 subscribers since July

KUALA LUMPUR: Netflix could soon have competition from a homegrown entertainment platform in Malaysia which, its makers say, will cater to Muslims’ “halal TV” needs based on Islamic values.

Dubbed “Nurflix,” the platform is Malaysia’s first Shariah-compliant streaming service and has attracted more than 10,000 subscribers since July.

Nurflix is the creation of Syah Rizal Mohamed, who wants to produce and release original content for the platform before its official launch in January.

“We spent $9.7 million for the startup, but the company will produce 1,000 (items of) original content in multiple categories like mainstream, educational, spiritual and motivational and kids, with about 12,000 episodes in the first five years of operating,” the 43-year-old CEO told Arab News.

He also plans for Nurflix to acquire content from local and international producers, as long as they align with the service’s production guidelines, with a focus on markets in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore before setting up internationally.

“We see ourselves covering the Southeast Asian region in the next five years with our readiness to establish hubs in the Middle East and Europe to gain traction in the international market.”

He said the decision to tap into the streaming service market was driven by the rapid growth of video-on-demand media and consumers choosing this, as well as over-the-top subscription services, as their main form of entertainment. 

Consumers agreed that there was a market for a halal content platform.

“The Islamic streaming service just enriches the Islamic entertainment ecosystem because there is a niche for it,” 25-year-old public relations executive Puteri N. Balqis told Arab News.

Media consultant Amir Hadi Azmi said a Shariah-compliant streaming service was an interesting niche, particularly for more conservative users, but that the concept was not unique to Islam or Muslims.

“In America, for example, there is a service called Pure Flix which caters to more conservative Christian viewers,” he told Arab News.

Amir Muhammad, managing director of Kuman Pictures, said that as a producer, the more outlets that were made available to content producers and filmmakers, the better. Kuman Pictures, which is known for releasing horror and thriller content, could create appropriate content if need be.

“I have not seen their actual guidelines, but if they want halal horror, we will give them halal horror,” he told Arab News.

The Nurflix CEO said there would be a Content Advisory Council and that it would be headed and supervised by Habib Ali Zaenal Abidin Al Hamid and the Honorable Ustaz Raja Ahmad Mukhlis.

“Productions, including third-party content providers, will be monitored by the council to ensure the end product abides by the set guidelines. Nurflix is unique in the market because it is not just offering Islamic-guided content. The production will be monitored by the council to ensure all aspects of work are conducted in a Shariah-compliant manner.”

Although there is no formal collaboration with the Islamic Affairs Department, he said that Nurflix’s ideas and concepts had already been shared with Islamic Affairs Minister Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.

When contacted by Arab News, the director-general of Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development Paimuzi Yahya said his department was still working on “collaborating with the streaming service” and declined to comment further.