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Anghami has become the “Spotify of the Middle East”. Now it’s happening in the real world


Abu Dhabi
CNN

Anghami describes itself as the largest music streaming app for the Middle East and North Africa.

Launched in Beirut in 2012 by Elie Habib and Eddy Maroun, it was quickly dubbed “the Spotify of the Middle East”. Now based in Abu Dhabi, Anghami is expanding its real-world footprint after amassing nearly 20 million active users.

He has partnered with Sony Music to launch ‘Vibe’, a record label which the companies say will ‘support independent Arab music’ and enable artists ‘to tell their stories regionally and globally’. Then, in July, Anghami acquired Spotlight Events, a live events company, and plans to hold regular concerts for local artists. Last month, he opened a concert hall and recording studio in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“Artists can’t just make money from streaming music,” says Habib. “They also need to make money in the real world.”

The platform faces serious competition from Spotify (SPOT) and Apple (AAPL), but the founders are confident they can maintain their success by building on their knowledge of the region.

“We are Arabs, but we are influenced by the Western world, and that is reflected in our product,” says Maroun. “That’s why our product is so much more relevant.”

The couple say nurturing and developing Arab talent is essential to their mission. Of the 73 million songs in their catalog, Habib says only 1% of them are in Arabic, but these songs drive 60% of all Anghami traffic. “We realize we need to increase that 1%,” says Habib.

In February, the company signed an exclusive partnership with Egyptian superstar Amr Diab, whose 1.2 billion streams make him the most popular artist on the platform.

Around the same time, Anghami was listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange – the first Arab tech company to do so, according to the founders. “It was a great moment,” says Maroun. “We felt like we were really bringing a whole nation with us.”

In the first half of 2022, it recorded a 29% growth in revenue and 41% in monthly subscribers, compared to the same period a year earlier. Since then, in a more difficult economic climate, the company has reduced its workforce by a fifth, but the founders are confident that they can continue to develop the platform.

“When we started Anghami…we never thought about IPOs, we never thought about the millions of users who use us every day,” says Habib. “IPO is never the end game – the end game is doing something you’re proud of.”

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