Universal Music Group launches label dedicated to artists from the Middle East

The company aims to discover new talents from around the region and bring international attention to Arabic music and culture

Jordanian singer Issam Al Najjar is the first artist to be signed to Universal Arab Music. YouTube
Jordanian singer Issam Al Najjar is the first artist to be signed to Universal Arab Music. YouTube

Universal Music Group has launched a label dedicated to artists from around the Mena region.

The label, Universal Arabic Music (UAM), was founded in partnership with Republic Records and music executive Wassim "Sal" Slaiby, whose company SalXCo manages The Weeknd, French Montana and Bleta Rexha.

The label aims to discover new talents from around the region and the Arab diaspora, bringing international attention to Arabic music and culture and creating new opportunities with partners, platforms and brands from around the world.

Clearly signalling the label's mission, UAM marked its launch during National Arab-American Heritage month in the US by signing Issam Alnajjar, 17. The Jordanian singer-songwriter became an international sensation after his debut single Hadal Ahbek topped Spotify’s Viral Global and US Charts, Shazam’s Top 200 Global Chart and raked in more than three billion views on TikTok.

“In today’s global music marketplace, we’ve demonstrated time and again that worldwide hits come from anywhere,” said Lucian Grainge, chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Group, about the partnership.

“There is so much talent in this part of the world that with Sal’s incredible experience and intimate knowledge of the Mena region, alongside his track record for helping to break global artists, he will bring a unique vision, strategy and power to Universal Arabic Music.”

Slaiby said it has been “my dream to highlight the talent and culture of Arabic music on a global level with partners that I trust and admire".

The global reach of Arabic music has been increasingly widening. Social media has been pivotal in bringing attention to new Arab artists in countries such as the US, Brazil, France, Turkey and across Latin America, where there are large Arab communities.

UAM is building a team of Arabic-speaking experts who have a personal understanding of Arab music and culture. The team will work alongside Universal Music Group's labels in the US, UK, Brazil, France, Germany, Australia and Mexico – as well as its existing operations in the Mena region – to boost the works of global artists of Middle Eastern and North African descent and bring them to fans around the world.

Updated: April 8, 2021 03:19 PM

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