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The Vice Media Group is expanding its business in Saudi Arabia and has signed a deal to produce content for MBC Group, the Saudi-owned Middle East giant with the largest media operation in the region.
Unveiled on Wednesday, the deal — which was first rumored last year (The New York Times said it was potentially worth “at least $50 million” — will see the youth-focused digital media company create bespoke, Arabic-language content across food, music, fashion, the visual arts and video games, alongside providing mentorship and training opportunities. It will be run from Vice’s offices in Riyadh, which first opened in 2021.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
“MBC Group is the leading media platform in the region, and we are happy to help extend its reach while highlighting the vibrant, emerging youth culture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – where more than half the population is under the age of 35 – and across the Arabic-speaking world,” said Vice Media Group CEO Nancy Dubuc.
Vice has been present in the Middle East since 2017 when it opened a regional office in Dubai. In late 2018, the company publicly distanced itself from Saudi Arabia following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, claiming that it was pausing all work in the kingdom.
“Given Vice’s reputation for content and storytelling, we couldn’t ask for a better partnership with which to kick off 2023,” said Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC Group, about the deal. “We have no doubt that Vice will help deliver diverse content that will complement our current offerings on MBC.”
The announcement of the MBC deal comes amid news that Vice is restarting its sale process, which began last year. According to CNBC, citing people familiar with the subject, the company is now “likely to fetch a price of below $1 billion,” having been valued at $5.7 billion in 2017. It claimed that earlier interested bidders had balked at the initial price tag, which it reported was between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.
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