AlAraby TV bursts onto screens from new London home
The newest player on the Arabic media scene has arrived on the block, and they've got a shiny new home they want to show off.
Alaraby TV launched in 2014, in a modest studio space in west London shared with a sports broadcaster. Three short years later, on Monday July 24, reporters, technical crew and executives were buzzing round as they prepared to go live from the channel's new headquarters.
The move promises to be the largest shake-up of Arabic-language television news and entertainment broadcasting since the launch of Al Jazeera two decades ago.
"Transparency is the key theme here," said Yusuf El Saadi, the new channel's creative director, and himself a veteran of the Al Jazeera network.
"The open design is not just a matter of layout, but is fundamental to our approach to the business. It is our starting point."
|Go behind the scenes with
Yusuf El Saadi [Facebook Live]
It is a pan-Arab broadcaster, available in millions of households across the Middle East and beyond.
Interested viewers outside the region can also watch an HD livestream online.
The cavernous space hosts five separate recording sets, plus numerous positions for reporters' pieces-to-camera in front of vast interactive video walls.
It is an investment of tens of millions of pounds in an industry more known at the moment for downsizing and scaling back ambitions.
It's already one of the largest, and certainly the most modern, TV production facilities in London - and has been built to compete with the Arab world's largest and most popular broadcasters.
Alaraby TV is expected to be home to more than 200 media staff. One insider told The New Arab as many as 400 staffers would eventually take up roles here as expansion plans continue to develop.
The studio complex, on a sprawling industrial estate in London's Park Royal neighbourhood, will host eight regular programmes on top of its news updates and the channel's external commissioned programming to provide 24/7 coverage, from news and current affairs to arts and culture.
|'Morning Light' is AlAraby's flagship morning magazine programme|
"You can't remove the urgency of the news," says El Saadi. "Television is a traditional tool, but it will always be there. We all watch TV."
Planners here have worked with a series of architectural and design consultants, including Jago Design, the creative team behind some of Britain's most-recognisable TV sets, from BBC News to Channel Four News, BT Sport and CNBC. The result is a set of filming areas that are adaptable to a huge array of shifting programming priorities.
AlAraby TV is part of the Fadaat Media network, of which The New Arab is also a member.