CNN readies Abu Dhabi bureau

CNN will start transmitting a daily show out of new purpose-built Abu Dhabi facilities early in 2009. Abu Dhabi has helped finance a new broadcasting centre in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates at TwoFour54 (pictured, left and named after Abu Dhabi’s longitude and latitude geographical coordinates).

The TwoFour54 facility was unveiled on Oct 12, and sees the project attempt to wrest media dominance away from its more publicised fellow-Emirate at Dubai just along the coast. In all the media zone will comprise some 200,000 sq metres. Besides CNN, other tenants include the BBC, National Geographic Films and the Financial Times; the Thomson Foundation,and the Thomson Reuters Foundation; publishers Random House and Harper Collins; C Sky Pictures, Rotana Studies and the Abu Dhabi Media Company who will all be setting up offices within the complex.

Speaking at the launch, Tony Orsten, CEO of twofour54, said: "The Abu Dhabi 2030 vision seeks to establish the Emirate as a regional center for culture with a 'global capital city' as its hub. An extremely important part of achieving this vision lies in creating a thriving international media industry which, to be successful, needs to be local at the same time," he said.

CNN's Abu Dhabi operation complements its presence in Dubai and will be a fourth major international broadcast center alongside the existing facilities in London, Hong Kong and Mexico City, and the US production centers in Atlanta, Washington DC, New York and Los Angeles. "Our UAE expansion is one of our boldest editorial undertakings of recent years and one that builds on our existing news gathering heritage in the region," said Tony Maddox, EVP/MD of CNN International.

In addition to the launch of live daily news programming, CNN will also move the production of its popular Middle East-focused feature shows Inside the Middle East and Marketplace Middle East to the UAE.

The new CNN hub will be a custom-built news centre overseen by the newly created position of managing editor CNN Abu Dhabi. The operation will house approximately 30 staff, including a new CNN International anchor, and programming, production and newsgathering staff who – says CNN - will play a key role in increasing CNN's coverage of the Gulf and the wider Middle East for all of CNN Worldwide's networks.