x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

New radio station set to hit Dubai airwaves soon

Arabian Radio Network is set to launch a radio station by the end of this quarter catering to a new community in the Emirates.

The Arabian Radio Network, which has eight stations, plans to launch another in the first quarter of this year. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
The Arabian Radio Network, which has eight stations, plans to launch another in the first quarter of this year. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Arabian Radio Network (ARN) is set to launch a radio station by the end of this quarter catering to a new community in the Emirates.

"We have eight radio stations and we plan to launch more stations going forward," said Steve Smith, the chief operating officer at ARN. "We will be launching a new radio station this quarter. We are very close to knowing what the format is going to be like."

Mr Smith refused to reveal the language of the new station, but said that the network had been researching its feasibility for the past two years.

"We think there are great opportunities in the UAE market and we are going to service that; and that is part of our mandate too. We are government-owned and it is important that all communities have their own entertainment," he said.

ARN is also focusing on growing its digital listenership, while its shows across the network attract 3.3 million listeners daily. There has been a sharp rise in digital listenership.

"We have seen dramatic audience improvement across all our stations," said Mr Smith. "We make up about 54 per cent of the overall market share and with the new stations planned, it will definitely grow."

The network is averaging 900,000 unique listeners online through websites, mobile applications and other online feeds. This is up from about 556,000 in 2011. The rise of smartphones in the UAE has also raised digital listenership. Almost 800,000 apps were downloaded last year, up from 499,000 in 2011.

"We think radio is going through a golden age in this market," said Mr Smith.

"Commercially we are catching up. Currently radio accounts for 4 per cent of total advertising revenue, whereas the average globally is about 7 to 12 per cent. So the potential is massive."

According to Mr Smith, the radio networks in the country are working together to improve radio advertising and the data being presented to the commercial world.

thamid@thenational.ae