Campaign Annual – Top 10 Media milestones of 2017

  1. Lovin Dubai buys 7Days’ social media handles. In January, Augustus – the holding company behind online news and entertainment guide Lovin’ Dubai – bought the social media channels that used to belong to UAE daily 7Days. 7Days closed at the end of 2016, and a representative of Augustus told Campaign it had paid “a substantial amount of money” for 40,200 followers on Instagram, 164,000 on Twitter and more than 74,000 likes on Facebook.
  2. Al Arab News Channel closes. Employees at Al Arab News Channel, owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal, were told in February that “management has decided to cease its operation with immediate effect”. The 24-hour pan-Arab news channel originally launched in Bahrain in 2015 but was pulled hours after it launched. Staff had been waiting in their home countries and Cyprus till a new home was found for Al Arab.
  3. ARN and Shock launch radio stations. At the end of February, Arabian Radio Network launched two new digital-only stations. Al Khaleejiya Classic plays tracks from GCC musicians of the 1980s and 1990s, and Al Arabiya Cassette plays Arabic hits from the 1960s to the 1990s. Meanwhile, a new independent radio station, Dance 97.8FM, launched in Dubai. It is being run by Shock Middle East.
  4. Vice Arabia launches. Global youth brand Vice’s founder and CEO Shane Smith visited Dubai in March to announce that Vice Arabia would launch within six months. In November it launched with a film about Arab Youth, Bil Arabi. Islam Alrayyes, editor in chief of Vice MENA, called it “an honest, insightful collection of perspectives from a rapidly changing region”. Vice’s media representation is being handled by Choueiri Group.
  5. Saffron Media Works shuts. UAE-based publisher Saffron Media Works shut down after publishing the last issues of its titles in January. These included Saffron, Femina, Filmfare and Salt ‘n’ Pepper. Dubai’s Xpress newspaper reported that staff and  suppliers had been left unpaid, writing: “Publishers of Saffron Media Works had been struggling to keep the monthly magazines afloat. The employees had not been paid for months, but in the hope of a turnaround the dozen-odd staffers lumbered on at the firm’s Media City office in Dubai.”
  6. Nielsen starts radio audits. Measurement agency Nielsen announced in October that it was launching auditing for the broadcast radio industry in the UAE. The initiative – which will be independently verified by PwC – features paper and mobile diaries.
  7. OMG expands Pathmatics and Moat partnerships. Omnicom Media Group MENA partnered with two technology companies in May, allowing it to extend measurability and insights to its agencies OMD, PHD and Hearts & Science. Moat is an “attention analytics” company accredited by the US’ Media Rating Council for desktop display and video viewability. It had an existing partnership in the region with Choueiri Group’s DMS, which it partnered with in March. Pathmatics is a digital intelligence service.
  8. MEC and Maxus to merge. Group M is merging the global operations and teams of its agencies MEC and Maxus into a new agency, Wavemaker, it was announced in July. However, in the region both agencies say it will take “many months” for the merger to happen. MEC’s global CEO, Alistair Aird, told Campaign: “our plans are on hold in the Middle East.” In the region, WPP has majority ownership of MEC but only a minority stake in Maxus.
  9. JCDecaux wins RTA lampposts. French outdoor company JCDecaux and its local partner, DXB Media Advertising, won a street furniture contract in Dubai in July. The 10-year deal with the Roads and Transports Authority covers the installation, upkeep and maintenance of 418 advertising lampposts along Jumeirah Beach road, and 50 interactive ‘e-Village’ signs situated around the city.
  10. Big FM enters UAE. Big FM, India’s largest radio network entered the UAE after being acquired by Zee Entertainment Middle East. Radio Advertising is worth $130m net in the region, says Mukund Cairae, MEAP CEO. Big FM, which is targeted firmly at middle-class South Asian expats, features DJs who have already made a name for themselves as singers in India.