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Spotify makes a play for the Middle East with an Arabic service

Spotify is bringing its services to the Middle East.The music streaming platform has launched in 13 A...

Posted: Nov. 15, 2018 11:22 AM
Updated: Nov. 15, 2018 11:22 AM

Spotify is bringing its services to the Middle East.

The music streaming platform has launched in 13 Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

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Users in the region will have full access to Spotify and a "fully localized Arabic Spotify service with right-to-left text alignment," the company said in a statement.

Fans of Spotify (SPOT) could previously only access its services by using accounts registered in other countries.

The company is also launching a platform on its app to offer Arabic music globally, it added.

By moving into the region, Spotify is taking on Deezer, a French company backed by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in the battle for a market of more than 300 million people.

In August, Deezer signed an exclusive agreement with Rotana, a Saudi-based media company owned by Prince Alwaleed, to distribute its content. Alwaleed's Kingdom Holding Company paid $267 million for a stake in Deezer as part of that deal.

Taking on Deezer and Anghami

Spotify and Deezer will both have to compete with Anghami, a music streaming service based in Beirut, which launched in 2012.

Anghami has been combating pirated music in the region. It features licensed Arabic and international music from labels such as Universal and Sony (SNE). It now has more than 70 million users.

"We welcome competition since this helps [to educate] the market and grow the whole segment for a healthier music ecosystem," Anghami co-founder Eddy Maroun said in a statement to CNN Business. "Anghami's head start and localization remain a natural advantage," he added.

Many people were commenting on Twitter about Spotify's arrival in the region. It was among the top trending topics in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

"I'd say having Spotify here might also bring the best out of Anghami in a way," tweeted a radio host in Saudi Arabia.

With the addition of the Arab states, Spotify now has a footprint in 78 markets worldwide. That includes South Africa where it launched earlier this year.

The Swedish company was founded in 2008 and was valued at nearly $30 billion when it listed shares on the New York Stock Exchange in April.

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