Manama beats out Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar to host Kingdom Holding's 24-hour Alarab news station
Alarab, the 24-hour news station funded by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, will be based in Bahrain, according to an official at the local media regulator.
Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, president of the Bahraini Information Affairs Authority (IAA) told the country’s state news agency that an agreement had been reached on 12 December to base both Alarab and the Rotana Media Group in Manama.
Around 100 staff will relocate from Riyadh. The group will continue to operate its studios located in Beirut, Cairo and Dubai.
The well-known Saudi journalist, Mr. Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, will be managing this new 24-hour channel.
The news ends speculation that the channel, announced in September, would be headquartered in various cities around the region, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha or Beirut.
The Alarab news channel is an independent venture from Kingdom Holding Company and the Rotana Group and is privately owned by Prince Alwaleed.
In September, the prince said that the Arabic-language channel would focus on “freedom of speech and freedom of press”.
The 24-hour channel could prove a rival for planned news service Sky News Arabia, British Sky Broadcasting’s (BSkyB) first foreign-language channel, due to launch in Abu Dhabi in early 2012.
The billionaire prince is the second largest shareholder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which holds a 39 percent share in BSkyB.
The AlArab deal was carried out through Prince Alwaleed’s existing media company, Rotana Group. Rotana owns the Arab world's largest record label and about 40 percent of the region's movies, and operates a number of free-to-air television channels.
News Corp said in May this year it would raise its stake in Rotana Group to 14.53 percent, in an investment worth $35m.
The media giant acquired an initial 9.09 stake in Rotana in May 2010, in an investment worth around $70m.