A brand new Arabic-language channel has been launched by Abu Dhabi-based production company Image Nation, providing a platform for regionally produced content from the Arab world to be showcased across millions of homes.

Quest Arabiya, a partnership between Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Discovery Communications, fills a gap in the Arabic TV market by providing factual entertainment content of a quality and breadth that has never been seen before in the region. It focuses on six key genres: Extreme Outdoor, Turbo, Engineering, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Space and People & Places. Other content areas include themed weekends, such as Big Cats and Shark Weekend. The first Saturday of each month will feature Saturday Night Specials, during which documentaries of regional interest will be screened. FACT talks to Image Nation’s CEO Michael Garin to learn more…

When conceptualising Quest Arabiya, did you see a gap in the market, or was it part of a broader strategy to promote the region?

We’re not a tourist authority, so we’re not really here to promote the region. What we’re here to do is to promote the development of talented young individuals to reach their potential. The stories that we tell are stories of great integrity, and hopefully of strong dramatic effect, but they’re definitely not intended as promotional vehicles. This is actually I think one of the biggest challenges that exists in the UAE; most countries that are developing economies have an overabundance of population, and a scarcity of financial resources.

We’re blessed with an abundance of resources, but the scarcest resource is human capital, and if we don’t create opportunities for our most talented young people to pursue their passions here, we’re going to lose them, they’re going move to LA, or New York or London and this country can’t afford to lose that talent. And that’s why Image Nation exists. The world doesn’t need another company to make movies – we need to create opportunities for people to grow and develop here at home.

Egyptian Parkour

What is the ratio of international vs. regional content?

In one sense, all of the content will be original, because it’s not just going to be a re-dubbed, repurposed channel, we’re actually changing the graphics, we’re making these programmes unique and relevant to our audience. But in another sense, to be perfectly fair, some of the content IS repurposed, and already existed, so I would say probably a little less than half of the programmes will be completely unique to the region. That’s not day one, we’re working towards that, which is why we’ve created these short programmes, some complete content before we go on air. Extreme Arabia will be the first full-length series that we produce, and is already in production.

There’s going to be an open line of communications between the public and Quest Arabiya, through the website and social media, to take feedback as to what direction they’d like you to go. Tell us more…

Well, we’d actually like to go beyond that, because unlike posting a video on the Internet, YouTube or elsewhere, we offer the opportunity for stories that you’re capturing or telling not only to appear online, but also to appear on air in 22 countries, and 45 million Arabic speaking homes. We also offer the opportunity for quite a few of these programmes and content to be seen around the world through our partnership with Discovery.

The Last Dallah Maker in the UAE

For anyone looking to get involved, what’s the best way to go about it?

Because of our Quest to Talent initiative, which is ongoing, these guys you see here are but the first chosen for the channel. The application channels are already very well established, they can do it online, through the website, everything they need to know is there. We want to find talented content creators, we want to find aspiring on-air personalities, we want to find people who want to work behind the camera, in front of the camera, and we want to encourage talent to develop and grow across the
entire region.

GO: Find out everything you need to know on www.questarabiya.com