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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 November 2007, 01:37 GMT
MTV launches new Arabic service
File photo of soul star Akon
Soul singer Akon was one of the stars at MTV Arabia's Dubai launch

The music and youth lifestyle channel MTV has launched an Arabic service it hopes can tap into a booming appetite for Western-influenced culture.

MTV says it hopes to respect local culture without diluting its brand.

The MTV Arabia service will screen Arab music videos, talent shows, and international programmes like Pimp My Ride adapted for Arab audiences.

It says it hopes the channel can act as a cultural unifying force in a region known for political tension.

Stiff competition

With around two thirds of the Arab world's population under 30 years of age, MTV Arabia launches into a competitive market, up against more than 50 other Arab music channels.

The station aims to address local issues and tap into local talent.

At the launch of the channel in Dubai, singers said they hoped it would help Middle Eastern artists gain recognition.

"I think it's going to help the exposure, for all the music in the Middle East," said soul star Akon.

Abdul Latif al-Sayegh, the head of MTV's partner in the venture, Arab Media Group, said he hoped the channel might help persuade Arabs living in Western countries to return home.

The service says on its website that since its launch in 1981, MTV has "influenced how young people all over the world dress, think, and talk."

It also claims the channel has "given artists a forum for airing their political views and pushed society's boundaries."

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