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Discovery to launch an Arabic TV channel in the Middle East

MUMBAI: Image Nation has partnered with Discovery to create and launch a new Arabic language TV channel for the Middle East and North Africa.

Quest Arabiya will be a free-to-air channel and will go live in the final quarter of 2015.

The channel, whose focus is male-oriented factual and reality programmes, will be a combination of regionally-produced original material and Arabized content from Discovery’s vast library of non-fiction shows.

Aimed primarily at Arab men aged 16-44, but with material that will appeal to the entire family, key programming genres will include adventure and survival, motoring, engineering, wildlife, history and people and places.

Quest Arabiya, which will be broadcasting 24 hours a day, will be headed up by Image Nation GM channels Carl von Doussa who brings over 19 years of experience in television and digital markets in Europe and the Middle East. He is joined by a growing team, including Eeman Al Ansari, Programming Executive, and Khalid Khouri, Project Manager.

The venture highlights the growing importance of TV and digital media as platforms for original content and commissions in the Middle East, providing new opportunities for local talent and production companies to increase their output, while providing a host of new training and development opportunities in the media industry in the region.

The move means more stories from across the region will be brought to life through specially commissioned Quest Arabiya shows. And under the terms of the deal, Discovery Communications has the option to acquire Image Nation’s content for broadcast on its international channels, meaning the region’s stories have the potential to be told around the world.

A search has already begun for on-screen talent and production companies to pitch and produce shows centring on culture and lifestyle that reflect GCC and MENA customs and traditions.

Image Nation Abu Dhabi chairman Mohammed Al Mubarak said, “In partnering with Discovery to launch a new TV channel in the Middle East and North Africa, we are doing what Abu Dhabi does best – marrying world-class expertise with regional knowledge. Quest Arabiya will provide a needed boost to the private media sector in the UAE as we will be commissioning more content than ever before and producing at the highest international standards.”

Discovery executive VP emerging business James Gibbons said, “Quest Arabiya will be a leading destination for men’s lifestyle entertainment in the Middle East. Discovery’s global success is based on building strong local teams and looking for new opportunities in key markets. We have a dedicated team based in the UAE and a track record of providing content and brands that meet viewer demands in the region for more than 16 years. Our partnership with Image Nation will help take our business to the next level, broaden the popularity of factual content and raise awareness of our seven channel brands in the region.”

The launch of Quest Arabiya will see Discovery grow and further localise its presence in the Mena TV market. Operating from a dedicated office in the UAE, the company currently offers a portfolio of TV channels, which includes free-to-air Fatafeat which is a food network in the Middle East, as well as pay TV channels Discovery Channel HD, TLC HD, Animal Planet HD, Discovery Science HD, ID: Investigation Discovery and Discovery World, distributed on OSN.

Image Nation CEO Michael Garin said, “Image Nation now has a proven track record of creating quality reality and factual programming, with an ever-growing slate of documentary feature films including He Named Me Malala directed by Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim and Polio documentary Every Last Child.

“For us, Quest Arabiya is a significant step into the area of TV, which provides more opportunity for regional industry professionals to make their mark. Quite simply, the platform means more opportunity for local content to air, more production and more jobs.

“Through Discovery’s international networks we also look forward to some great untold Middle Eastern stories reaching a huge audience across the world.”