AMG eyes Virgin territory

A landmark deal signed last month between Virgin Radio and the Arab Media Group (AMG) will see the UK-based broadcaster enter the booming Dubai radio broadcasting market.
Virgin chairman Sir Richard Branson is keen to expand the brand's presence in the Middle East.
Virgin chairman Sir Richard Branson is keen to expand the brand's presence in the Middle East.

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A landmark deal signed last month between Virgin Radio and the Arab Media Group (AMG) will see the UK-based broadcaster enter the booming Dubai radio broadcasting market.

The deal marks the culmination of a period of rapid growth for the broadcaster, following Virgin Radio launches in France and Italy earlier this year.

The collaboration with AMG will see the company's radio wing, the Arab Radio Network (ARN), benefit from Virgin's programming, marketing and promotional experience as well as being provided access to the high profile Virgin brand.

The confirmation of the deal comes after a memorandum of understanding was signed in March. The English-language Virgin Radio Dubai will be up and running before the end of the year.

"I am thrilled to be launching Virgin Radio Dubai. I am sure that, together, we'll build the best station Dubai has ever heard. We are already exploring opportunities to establish Virgin Radio in other parts of the Middle East," said Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group.

The agreement between the two companies has sparked rumours of other big name radio franchises exploring opportunities in the region, with UK-based dance station KISS mentioned in particular.

However, AMG CEO Abdullatif Al Sayegh said the company was very happy to be working with Virgin in Dubai.

"I don't think any radio stations in the UAE or the Arab world compete with the Virgin brand. Virgin is going to bring a lot of quality to radio," he said.

"The growth that the company has experienced mirrors our plans to expand in the region, and indeed this year we will incorporate more television stations and two new radio stations."

The presence of the brand could also prove a major boon for the live events industry in the UAE with the Virgin Group encompassing a record label, music retail chain and the hugely successful V Festivals concert roadshows.

This year, the company staged its first ever V Festival shows in Australia, building on the concert series' success in North America and the UK.

Virgin has indicated in the past that it is exploring multiple opportunities in the Middle East and its commitment to the Dubai deal could be seen as a sign of its intentions for future activity in the region, broadcasting and otherwise.

Virgin Radio International's Middle East representative, Jean Claude Torbey, was previously employed in Lebanon's radio broadcasting sector. He has also held management positions in Virgin Megastore's MENA division.

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