Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Chairman of ADMIC and the new joint venture, and Andrew Griffith, Chief Financial Officer of BSkyB, being briefed by a Twofour54 official during a tour of the studio facilities which will be the headquarters of the new venture Image Credit: Supplied picture

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp (ADMIC), a private investment company owned by Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, has tied up with British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), the UK-based pay television provider for the launch of a new, free-to-air Arabic language news channel across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region in 2012.

Located in Abu Dhabi, the new channel will be a 50-50 joint venture between ADMIC and BSkyB.

Shaikh Mansour, an active investor, currently heads the International Petroleum Investment Company, which owns 71 per cent of Aabar Investments.

Operating under the Sky News brand, the new company will provide comprehensive coverage of the regional and international news agenda through a 24-hour channel offering rolling news and current affairs programming, as well as a website and mobile applications.

"The new channel will be an important, independent voice for the Arab world, providing accurate and in-depth reporting of all the interesting developments in the region," said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Chairman of ADMIC and the new venture.

"We intend to set a new standard for broadcasting in the Middle East and North Africa by combining the best practice, expertise and reputation for impartiality of global news leader Sky News with our regional knowledge and the world class infrastructure offered by Abu Dhabi and the twofour54 media zone," he said.

Attractive region

James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and Chairman of BSkyB, said that the Mena region is a highly attractive region for media investment and that Abu Dhabi is an excellent location from which to enter the marketplace.

More than 180 multimedia reporters, supported by a full technical and operations team, will be contributing content to the channel, its website and mobile applications.

Operating out of Abu Dhabi's twofour54 media zone, the channel's network will include reporters from across the Mena region in addition to offices in London and Washington.

According to the news statement released by ADMIC, Adrian Wells, previously Sky News' head of international news, will work with the ADMIC team to launch the new channel and a director of news will be appointed in due course to lead the venture on a permanent basis.

The new channel will represent a significant expansion in the international operations of Sky News.

Launched in 1989, Sky News provides news to around 145 million people in 36 countries in Europe alone. "I believe this is a great step in establishing Abu Dhabi as an international hub not just for entertainment and television content, but now news. It will diversify the choices that the audience has in the region," said Ahmad Zahzah, a media consultant based in Dubai.

"The audience will get international content in Arabic. It will be a healthy mixture of ideas and concepts floating around."

"Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya have set high standards and have created a big group of Arabic speaking professionals who are very well qualified to produce and create news of the highest standards possible," Zahzah said.