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Saudi Arabia plans to move prominent TV stations out of Dubai

The decision is part of a push by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to turn Riyadh into a regional hub for business, media and entertainment
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in a virtual session in the capital Riyadh, 28 January 2021 (AFP)

Saudi TV stations are gradually transferring their offices and employees from the United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia as part of a drive by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to turn the Saudi capital into a regional hub for business, media and entertainment. 

Al Arabiya and Al Hadath, two of Saudi Arabia's prominent channels, have told their employees, journalists and presenters to prepare to relocate as they get ready to move their headquarters out of the Dubai Media City, home to global and local media companies, to Riyadh.

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Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a London-based newspaper, reported that the Saudi decision has created confusion among employees, especially those who have children starting the school year in September.

The move will be carried out in three stages over a period of six months.

According to Al-Quds al-Araby, Al Arabiya said that Saudi authorities are keen on first having a limited broadcast from the kingdom before the end of the year, followed by a 12-hour broadcast at a later stage, before fully broadcasting from Riyadh.

Al Arabiya and Al Hadath employees will follow colleagues at MBC Group, the Saudi media conglomerate that has already relocated part of its staff from Dubai to Riyadh.

In February, Saudi Arabia gave foreign companies an ultimatum to establish their regional headquarters in Riyadh if they want to do business in the kingdom.

Effective on 1 January 2024, a Saudi law will ban government bodies from signing contracts with international companies with no "regional headquarters" in the country but will exempt those who moved their headquarters, executive and supporting staff to the Saudi capital.