Fujairah has revealed ambitious plans to launch a media hub complete with new radio stations, a TV channel and a move into publishing.
As well as bidding to become a media owner in its own right, the UAE emirate is also looking to become a “cost effective” alternative to Dubai Media City, although it denies it is going into direct competition with its fellow emirate.
The centrepiece of Fujairah Media’s strategy is a 200,000 square metre complex called Creative City, which it hopes will attract freelance professionals as well as media production, services and technology companies.
The US$50 million first phase of the development, which will eventually equal the size of 18 football pitches, is being built alongside the new Fujairah highway which will connect it to the Emirates Road leading to Dubai. The first phase is due to be completed by the end of 2007.
Mekki Abdulla, director of radio and marketing at FM, said: “We have been working on developing the group for two years. Initially it was just going to be a radio station and a TV station, but that wasn’t going to cut the mustard any more, so it had to be different.
“We are not trying to be Dubai Media City. It has got too much to offer. We are going to be a good alternative. We are going to be more cost-effective, but we hope to complement it and make it more of a media hub by attracting new people and businesses.”
Recent months have seen a race within the UAE to build up media conglomerates, with Dubai’s Arab Media Group having newspaper, radio, events and distribution arms, while the Abu Dhabi-owned Emirates Media Inc includes TV, radio and newspaper interests with plans for more radio channels.
Fujairah Media, which is a joint venture between the Government of Fujairah’s investment arm and Arab International Media Services, will launch its first Arabic language music station, FM 98.4 this month. The station willbroadcast across the UAE and has tied up with Radio Monte Carlo to take its Arabic news service. It will also co-produce a one-hour show with French-based station Radio Soleil to reach Arab audiences in Europe, US and Africa.
An English language music station that will be “different” from others currently broadcasting in the UAE will hit the airwaves early next year, to be followed by two Asian language channels.
Abdulla also stepped into the radio ratings debate, saying the English station would be linked “very strongly” to research, but he refused to go into further details.
The media group will also launch an Arabic language satellite TV station in June next year called Dunia TV, which will be aimed at Arab families. Local programming is being promised as well as original content from Europe.
Habib Hammoud, CEO of Fujairah Media, said: “Additionally, we have interest from three companies who are setting up base at our Creative City and they will be launching a television station each.”
Fujairah Media also plans to launch a series of publications, but Abdulla said that newspapers were “unlikely” to feature in their plans.
The group’s Jebelcom services division will be the first in the region to offer terrestrial digital broadcasting, without users having to have a satellite receiver. Hammoud added: “Our products and services reflect the creativity that is necessary to take media to the next level in the UAE and in this regard, we will have many more developments coming.”