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The Vice Media Group is opening an office in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.
The office — which The Hollywood Reporter understands is a small operation mostly focussed on commercial and business-to-business offerings — will be located in a converted warehouse in JAX, a new arts and culture district in the industrial Ad-Diriyah zone that will serve as a hub for cultural and creative industries.
“Our growth in the region has always been driven by our mission to champion young voices. Given how dynamic youth culture currently is in this part of the world, this move represents a natural expansion of our operations.” said Jason Leavy, Vice Media’s senior vice president, international growth, in a statement “Having a presence on the ground, with the corresponding insights and storytelling capabilities that gives us, means we are also better placed to partner with leading brands who want to connect with audiences in a meaningful way.”
As part of the expansion, the media giant is also partnering with the Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG) publishing group to set up a training program for young Saudi creatives, and giving its creative agency, Virtue Worldwide, a direct presence in the kingdom.
Vice has had a foot on the ground in the Middle East since 2017, when it opened a regional office in Dubai. While the Saudi Arabia outpost may be its first in the kingdom, it’s not its first collaboration within the country, having previously worked with SRMG, known to have close links with the Saudi government (its former chairman Badr bin Abdullah Al Saud left to become Saudi Culture Minister). The two teamed on a series of mini-documentaries aimed at promoting Saudi Arabia internationally, including one about a camel festival that garnered millions of YouTube views.
However, in late 2018 Vice said this contract was under review in the wake of the global scandal that erupted following the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
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