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Bahrain to host Saudi prince’s Rotana, news channel

Saudi billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal will move his Rotana entertainment company and a new Arabic television channel to Bahrain, a move that reflects Saudi efforts to back Bahrain's government after its economy was hit by protests.

December 28, 2011 12:52 by

“They are expected to serve as an anchor in the new Manama-based Media City and should be instrumental in attracting other reputable media organisations to Bahrain,” a statement from Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority said on Wednesday.

It said Alarab TV, a new project between Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding and Bloomberg news agency, would launch in December 2012. Rotana, based so far in Saudi Arabia, involves a series of channels covering music, cinema, religion, news and drama.

Saudi Arabia sent troops to Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, in March to help the Sunni Muslim monarchy quash a democracy uprising dominated by the island’s majority Shi’ites.

Bahrain’s rulers and their Gulf Arab allies accused Iran of fomenting unrest. Continuing street protests suppressed by security forces have overshadowed the bank and tourism sectors.

This month Alwaleed, a nephew of King Abdullah estimated by Forbes magazine this year to have a fortune of over $19 billion, bought a stake in social media site Twitter, widening his foothold in global media.

He owns a 7 percent stake in News Corp and its Fox entertainment channels air on the Rotana network.

Twitter has been a key means of communication for activists during the protests that spread throughout the Arab world this year, including Bahrain, where pro and anti-government users engage in fierce debate and campaigning. (Writing by Andrew Hammond)

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