Lebanon MBC offices to move to Saudi Arabia

Lebanon MBC offices to move to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh media hub push
2 min read
27 October, 2021
In a bid to turn the kingdom into a regional media hub, Saudi state-owned MBC will move its Lebanon offices to Riyadh.
MBC's Lebanon offices have been the main engine behind the media giant's success [AFP/Getty]

Saudi broadcasting giant MBC will move from Lebanon to Riyadh "soon", according to reports, in a push by Riyadh to relocate all state-owned media to the country.

The Lebanon office of the Middle East Broadcasting Centre Group (MBC) - located in Zouk Mosbeh about 12 km north of Beirut - has reportedly given its staff the choice to either be transferred to Riyadh or resign from the company.

An MBC office in Lebanon will remain for administrative purposes only but not for production. The broadcaster's HQ is currently in Dubai's Media City but the Lebanon branch was an important office for entertainment production.

It is believed that the scaling down of the Lebanon office will negatively impact the production of MBC programmes, especially in entertainment, which had witnessed a golden age during its time in the small country.

Many of the media giant's large, pan-Arab shows were produced and filmed from its Lebanon studios.

The reports say staff in Beirut and Dubai - which also started seeing workers move out last month - are finding it hard to decide whether to stay with MBC or leave.

The New Arab contacted MBC for comment but received no response by the time of publication.

The decision to move media companies out of regional cities - such as Beirut and Dubai - to Riyadh comes as part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plans to remould the kingdom as a regional business hub.

The Saudi government took ownership of a majority stake in MBC Group when authorities acted to seize assets from those caught up in an anti-corruption investigation in 2018.

In 2020, MBC signed an agreement to build new offices in the Saudi capital, located in Riyadh's planned Media City which will host cultural, media, and technology businesses.

It is expected to be opened in four to five years.

The government also decided earlier this year to stop giving state contracts to companies and commercial institutions that base their Middle East headquarters in any other country in the region.

State-owned Al-Arabiya and Al Hadath TV channels informed their employees last month about plans to start broadcasting 12 hours a day from Riyadh by next January, sources had told Reuters.

Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath were based in Dubai’s Media City, the UAE’s media hub.

Despite being close allies, Saudi Arabia and neighbouring UAE are competing to attract investors and businesses as they both pursue plans to diversify their economies in a post-oil era.