Dubai Media City boss moves to Arab Media Group

His departure leaves the free zone without a leader as it faces its first home-turf competition.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - June 4:  CNN and MBC buildings in Dubai Media City (DMC) on June 4, 2008.  (Randi Sokoloff / The National) *** Local Caption ***  RS003-DMC.jpgRS003-DMC.jpg
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Dubai Media City's (DMC) executive director has moved to the same position at the Arab Media Group (AMG), leaving the free zone without a leader as it faces its first home-turf competition from Abu Dhabi's recently unveiled media zone. Mohamed Almulla, who has worked at Dubai Media City since 2001, became the executive director of AMG earlier this month, according to officials at the group and spokespeople for DMC. Both are part of TECOM Investments, a subsidiary of Dubai Holding.

"As executive director, he is one of the key people here at Arab Media Group," said Abdullatif al Sayegh, the chief executive of AMG. "We are equipping ourselves with a lot of good people here, and we are working as a team now." There has been some speculation among people familiar with AMG management that the move was made in preparation for Mr Sayegh's movement further up Dubai Holding's chain of command. Still in his mid-30s, Mr Sayegh is seen as something of a rising star in Dubai media circles, having overseen the launch of attention-grabbing brands such as MTV Arabia and Nickelodeon Arabia during his tenure.

While Mr Sayegh acknowledged he had received several phone calls from people who had heard rumours of his promotion, he denied that he had been offered one as yet. "Everyone wishes to be promoted," he said. "But as far as I know, I'm not changing jobs. Not yet." He said Mr Almulla's hiring was part of a larger staff increase to handle the group's continued expansion. The company launched Noor Dubai, a 24-hour television channel devoted to community affairs, in August, following the launch of MTV and Nickelodeon channels in the past year. Also this year, it launched the only Middle East outpost of Richard Branson's Virgin Radio brand.

Founded in 2005, AMG owns a wide array of media properties, including: ARN, a radio division that broadcasts across eight frequencies; Awraq Publishing, a publishing division that operates three daily newspapers and several magazines; Done Events, an events company; Shoof Advertising, an outdoor advertising company; Tawseel, an independent distribution company; and Masar, a printing house. Mr Almulla has helped to oversee a period of similar growth at DMC. Since opening in 2001, the media free zone has grown to include more than 1,000 companies, including major global media brands such as Reuters, CNN, CBNC, MBC, Sony, Showtime and Bertelsmann. Prior to being executive director of the media city, Mr Almulla was its director, responsible for attracting international media brands to the cluster while driving its long-term growth plans.

Mr Almulla was not available for comment for this article. Spokespeople for DMC said they had no information on when his successor would be named.