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Murdoch manoeuvres in the Middle East

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has declared that he wants to ramp up local production in the Middle East to appeal to the 335 million people in the region.

Speaking at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, Murdoch said that wanted the Arab Nations to open up and allow more creativity around content.

This comes after News Corp acquired a 9% stake in Arab media company Rotana for US$70 million and announced plans to launch a documentary production studio in the region and move its international channels base there.

“To be frank, Rotana does not really need our financing. We are partnering with Rotana for something more ambitious: to tap into Arab talent and ultimately produce original Arab content for markets both here and abroad,” he said.

Murdoch’s speech is a major indication that it sees value in setting up shop in the region. “Right now, the world does not think of the Middle East when it thinks of creative content. Even your own citizens often look elsewhere for a film of television show or news site. As a result, many of your own citizens prefer Hollywood movies or American television shows to local production,” he added.