A new Arabic-language satellite television channel backed by Sheikh Omar bin Zayed, the Aide de Camp to Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, will launch today in Al Ain. Al Dafrah TV, a free-to-air channel, will begin broadcasting eight hours a day with seven reality-style programmes, representing each of the seven emirates, and a general focus on local issues and Emirati heritage, said Fatima Mohammed, the general manager of the station.
"It's showing our real life, like a reality show," she said. "You will see all of our mistakes. There is no script." Programme topics range from local politics to travel to adventure. One programme will feature the daring feats of a group of UAE-based storm chasers who interact via the Web with a following of 13,000 fans. "If there is any storm in the UAE, or any dangerous thing, they will involve themselves in it," Ms Mohammed said.
In the beginning, the channel will fill its programming day in part through repeat broadcasts, but the schedule will be expanded depending on the response from the audience. "We don't want to start with something huge, we just want to give people our identity," she said. "We just want to see if the viewers like us or not." The channel's parent company, the Al Dafrah Group based in Abu Dhabi, has spent the past two years building studios in Dubai Studio City and another in Abu Dhabi, she said. The studios have gained attention over the past year for their multimillion-dollar investment in a full high-definition environment and tapeless workflow system, as well as a four-camera outside broadcast van.
Al Dafrah Group launched the Al Dafrah Music Channel last March to compete in the music video market. The group also publishes a magazine and runs an online portal. Most of the people working at the new station are recent college graduates eager to bring new ideas to the industry, Ms Mohammed said. One of these new ideas was to hold the launch event at the Al Jahili Historical Hall in Al Ain, rather than somewhere more conventional such as Dubai Media City.
"If you want to be creative, you have to be part crazy," she said. "We in the media are just a group of crazy people. Everybody was expecting that we would choose Dubai or Abu Dhabi for the opening ceremony, but that's why we decided to go to a quieter place, a traditional place. It will not be in a hotel. It will be like a safari." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org