Vice Media is making moves to begin its expansion into the Mideast. This week, Vice co-founder and CEO Shane Smith visited the UAE to discuss building a production and editorial studio to target Millennials hungry for Vice's edgy digital content.
"This is the time that we come in and steal a lot of market share," Smith told Reuters in an interview Wednesday.
According to a Voice of America report, Vice is aiming to hire 50 staff members in the UAE by the end of the year. It will launch a Web site and digital channel this summer and potentially a 24-hour regional cable channel.
Vice plans to produce news and lifestyle content in Arabic, English, Farsi, Turkish and Urdu.
The company will partner with Moby Group, the largest media company in Afghanistan founded by Saad Mohseni, which has had offices in the UAE for more than a decade. Together, the will create content for the Mideast and North Africa (MENA) region.
Smith met with H.E. Noura Al Kaabi, the UAE’s Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and chairwoman of Abu Dhabi’s twofour54, a tax-free media zone. He calls Abu Dhabi the “hub of the region's media industry.”
Smith and H.E. Al Kaabi discussed how to “meet the huge demand for youth-focused programming in the region” through storytelling “adapted for the region’s interests and sensitivities," per a statement.
H.E. Al Kaabi added that Abu Dhabi provides "a supportive editorial and regulatory environment that enables businesses like Vice Media to create and distribute quality content that engages the community.”
Vice also has plans to expand into India, Africa and around 18 other Southeast Asian countries, rounding out its presence in about 50 countries.
Vice Media was worth $4.2 billion at its last valuation, an impressive figure for a brand that in two decades transformed from a punk music magazine based in Montreal into a global multimedia brand.