MTV: Music Television hit the Middle East on Saturday with the launch of MTV Arabia in Dubai. The premiere featured performances by American artists Akon and Ludacris, Canadian singer Karl Wolf, and Saudi Arabian rapper Qu’sei Khidr, a/k/a Don Legend the Kamelion.
What the commentators said
If MTV manages to “grab an audience that already has access to more than 50 music channels,” said CBC.ca, its “effort” could pay off big time. “Two-thirds of the Arab world is younger than 30 with lots of spare cash and a rabid interest in Western pop culture.” MTV’s parent company Viacom obviously recognizes the potential here—it’s also developing “plans to present an Arab version of its children’s channel Nickelodeon.”
“We’ve tried everything else in the Middle East,” said Howard Gensler in the Philadelphia Daily News, “so why not hip-hop?” But if I were an Arab, I wouldn’t get too excited. “After helping destroy the music business here by turning it into a video medium and then abandoning it for a spate of reality shows, MTV Arabia hopes to work the same magic.” It is an interesting tactic for improving U.S.–Middle East relations, though: “If you can’t get them to like us, get them to be us.”
Well, they’re not going to be exactly like us, said Anne Lu in All Headline News. “MTV is known for airing provocative videos featuring barely-covered girls.” But in a part of the world where women are “barely-exposed,” MTV Arabia has to adapt its programming. It has already promised to “modify its programs and keep hip-hop videos featuring scantily clad women and alcohol to a minimum.”