Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has signed agreements with Bahrain to move his Rotana news and entertainment company from Cairo to the protest-hit Gulf state, the official BNA agency said on Wednesday.
The move comes as Prince Alwaleed plans to launch 24-hour news channel, Alarab in the first half of 2013 to compete with Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and the newly-launched Sky News Arabia satellite news channels.
Prince Alwaleed said shifting Rotana to Manama from Cairo and selecting the Gulf state’s capital as the headquarters of his Alarab news channel is an “important strategic decision with many important consequences.”
The move comes after thorough studies of several Arab capitals and cities, he said.
Bahrain is enjoying considerable freedom of expression and wide-open dialogue despite attempts by a minority to prove the opposite, the prince was quoted as saying by BNA in an apparent reference to anti-government protests.
The small Gulf state has been hit by Shiite-led demonstrations since February last year, which have been violently crushed by Manama, drawing criticism from international rights groups.
Alarab news channel will be added to the basket of Rotana’s 12 channels, which include LBC and FOX group. News Corp owns 20 percent of Rotana media group.
Alarab channel was scheduled to be launched this year but has been delayed for unknown reasons.
The news channel will compete with Doha-based Al-Jazeera, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya, based in Dubai, and the new Sky News Arabia, based in Abu Dhabi which went on air on Sunday.