MTV Arabia offers prayers and Punk'd

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (Hollywood Reporter) - Arabic versions of popular MTV music programs -- as well as an animated call to prayer every Friday -- will be the mainstay of MTV Arabia when the channel launches November 17.

The 24-hour service, which will include lifestyle programming as well as the usual menu of music videos, will reach a potential audience of nearly 200 million people across the Middle East. It will air on satellite broadcasters Nilesat 14 and Arabsat 24.

The target markets are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the UAE -- or just over half of the total audience.

“We’ve created programs that are an Arabic version of MTV programs,” said MTV Arabia general manager Patrick Samaha, who plans to launch Nickelodeon Arabia next year. “It is the first time that programs like this will really reflect the youth culture here, but we’ve been mindful all the way about respecting the local culture.”

Hip HopNa, a regional talent search program geared to discovering unknown musical talent, is the flagship show. The channel will also air such imported hits as “Pimp My Ride,” “Punk’d” and “Total Request Live.” There already are Arabic versions of popular shows like “MADE” (al Helm) and “Boiling Point” (Akher Takka).

The upcoming launch is the culmination of a licensing agreement between MTV’s Viacom Inc. parent and Arab Media Group, which is controlled by Dubai’s ruling family.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter