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Warner Music to Acquire Middle East Distributor Qanawat Music

WMG looks at the deal as an opportunity to export regional talent to the larger, Arabic-speaking diaspora worldwide.

Warner Music Group announced on Monday it has entered into an agreement to buy Qanawat Music, a leading music distributor across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as it looks to expand its footprint in one of the industry’s fastest-growing markets.

Once the deal is finalized — “soon,” the companies said — Qanawat Music will change hands from digital mobile provider Qanawat FZ LLC to WMG and become the label’s key local distributor in more than 20 countries across the region. Qanawat Music, which has a presence in Dubai, Cairo and Casablanca, will operate as a standalone company under WMG and retain its founder Adnan Al-Obthani as CEO.

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“Warner Music has a long-term vision for developing the market here in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as a commitment to connect Arabic artists with a global fanbase,” said Al-Obthani. “We’ve built this business up over 20 years and were determined that we would only partner with a company that we could confidently trust to look after our artists’ best interests.”

Aside from gaining an established distributor in a sprawling region of some 430 million people, WMG looks at the deal as an opportunity to export MENA-based talent to the larger, Arabic-speaking diaspora worldwide.

“We’ve recently seen huge global success with our artists from Sub-Saharan Africa and we’re eager to repeat this achievement by building a proper distribution and upstreaming structure for the best talent from the Arabic world,” said Alfonso Perez-Soto, president, emerging markets, recorded music at WMG.

WMG put its roots down in the region back in 2018 with the launch of Warner Music Middle East and the opening of an office in Beirut, Lebanon. A year ago, the company made an investment in Rotana Music, the Arab world’s leading indie record label.

“This is a seismic moment in the development of the music industry in our region,” commented Moe Hamzeh, managing director of WMME. “Combining the experience and relationships Qanawat has built up over the years with the global reach and expertise of Warner Music will hugely benefit many artists.”