ee invests $100m to launch Zee Alwan TV channel in Arabic providing family entertainment for Saudi audiences

Tue, 2012-09-18 08:29 - By

Zee Entertainment Enterprises, Asia's largest television provider, has announced a $100m investment to launch Zee Alwan, dedicated to providing wholesome family entertainment for Saudi Arabian audiences and Arabs across the Middle East & North Africa region.

The free-to-air channel will bring exclusively the Saudi Arabian television series Hindustani in addition to two new Arabic series and popular Indian serials dubbed into Arabic.

Zee Alwan will have over 180 hours of original programming monthly. The programme roster also includes a range of lifestyle shows including cookery, yoga, and travel - all carefully structured to appeal to Arab family audiences. With an operational office in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the channel can be accessed through frequency 12417 on Nilesat and 12111 on Arabsat.

Mukund Cairae, CEO - Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan, Zee Entertainment Enterprise LLC, said: "Saudi Arabia is one of our fastest growing markets, where we have a strong following for our first 24x7 Arabic channel, Zee Aflam, which telecasts Bollywood movies dubbed into Arabic. Following two years of research across the region, with several focus group interviews in Saudi Arabia, we are launching Zee Alwan that will provide total family entertainment for the viewers in the Kingdom."

He added: "Zee Alwan's niche of providing exclusive Arabic series - produced in the Gulf region as well as the dubbed Indian productions - sets a new trend in family television entertainment in the Middle East. Through Zee Alwan, we are also creating a new platform for talent collaboration between the Arab world and India. With several young Saudis stepping forward into the television sector, we see strong opportunities for collaborating with them to produce original Arabic serials that reflect the culture and values of Saudi Arabia and the region."

Zee Alwan and Zee Aflam underline Zee's long-term commitment to the Arab world and to leverage the growing popularity of Bollywood and Indian television content among Arab audiences.

Patrick Samaha, VP - Marketing & Sales of Zee Alwan & General Manager of Zee Aflam in the Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan, said: "The launch of Zee Alwan sets a new benchmark for the Arab television industry, as it focuses on offering wholesome family entertainment. Providing opportunity for several Arab creative professionals to showcase their talent to a wide audience, Zee Alwan's USP is its content - ranging from family serials to lifestyle shows for women, youngsters and the entire family."

Zee Alwan's line up of Arabic serials include the hugely popular Hindustani, the first Saudi Arabian musical and comedy with a prominent cast, making its first and exclusive free-to-air channel telecast. Other Arabic serials, also to be telecast exclusively on the channel, include the Khaleeji series Banaat Al Jameaa, depicting the story of life after high school and the advantages and disadvantages that young men and women endure at school and within their families; and the Syrian drama Banat Al Alilah, a tale of a guarded secret shared by an aunt and her niece.

The popular Indian serials that have amassed millions in viewership, and have been dubbed in Arabic for Zee Alwan include: Malekat Jhansi, which narrates the tale of the courageous Rani Laxmi Bai, a name that stands for bravery and heroism; Alwa'ad, following the lives of three sisters from a hill resort who are brought together when their parents pass away; and Lalli, in which the protagonist discovers the positive side of life despite being subject to a life of poverty.

The array of lifestyle shows on Zee Alwan include celebrated Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor's Konooz Khanaa that highlights the finer delicacies in Indian cuisine; Yoga for Youł a health and fitness show which introduces the ancient Indian practice of Yoga and the health benefits that one can attain by practising it regularly; and Full Circle, a travel show that takes viewers to the Far East and the Pacific, illustrating various lifestyles and cultures.

All the programmes respect the sensitivities of Arab audiences, especially women. Zee Alwan also has several Arab female anchors to present the shows, provide recaps on earlier episodes, and present vignettes from upcoming episodes.