Capitalizing on music as an integral part of life in this part of the world, Anghami has played the right notes so far in enabling the business to achieve massive milestones – from growing its subscriber base exponentially to becoming a music-streaming powerhouse in the Middle East and beyond. In this interview with Elie Habib, co-founder and CTO of Anghami, Economy Middle East casts the spotlight on one of the region’s brightest success stories.
Economy Middle East: Anghami has seen significant growth in the music streaming industry. What are some of the biggest milestones Anghami has achieved since its inception? And what strategies or approaches have contributed to this success?
Elie Habib: Since its establishment in 2012, Anghami’s original vision has been to create a local platform from scratch within our region. Over the years, the company has achieved multiple milestones. It has firmly established itself as the leading music- and entertainment-streaming platform in MENA that is focused on cultivating a complete ecosystem. Anghami has played a pivotal role in transforming the local music industry through digitization efforts and by offering a diverse range of audio experiences. These include live radio, podcasts, audio series and audiobooks. Beyond these, we have made significant contributions to the region’s music fabric by helping artists and labels in producing, publishing, performing and monetizing their art, in addition to connecting with a wider audience and more brands.
Our success can be attributed to our commitment to creating a tech platform that serves both users and artists by delivering innovative audio content. We also help bridge the gap between online and offline music and entertainment experiences. Anghami’s focus on user engagement, personalized content and strategic partnerships has played a pivotal role in its market dominance.
Furthermore, exclusive contracts with renowned artists, such as Amr Diab, have further strengthened Anghami’s position in the industry.
Economy Middle East: Tell us more about the OSN+ and Anghami merger. What are the main motivations behind the merger and what are the expected benefits? How is the $50 million investment from OSN Group being used?
Elie Habib: The merger between Anghami and OSN+ represents a transformative step in reshaping the media and entertainment landscape across the MENA region. By bringing together two of the Arab world’s market-leading and home-grown streaming brands, this strategic alliance aims to create an industry powerhouse. Together, we seek to provide consumers with an unparalleled streaming experience that meets the region’s demand for high-quality multimedia content. There will also be multiple opportunities for cross-promotions between both offerings.
The $50 million investment from OSN group will be used to revamp the user experience from the ground up, starting with enhancements in performance, the incorporation of advanced features, and an expansion of our product offerings for our rapidly growing user base of 2.5+ million subscribers and more than 8 million active users. This infusion of capital will fuel innovation, resulting in a seamless streaming experience that pushes boundaries. This will ensure that users enjoy an enriched and satisfying service.
Economy Middle East: Anghami was the first Arab tech company to be listed on NASDAQ. What are the opportunities and challenges Anghami faces as a public company? How has the NASDAQ listing impacted Anghami’s financial performance?
In 2022, Anghami made history by becoming the first Arab tech company to be listed on NASDAQ. This accomplishment challenged industry norms and highlighted Anghami’s emergence as a key global player.
As the first Arab tech company to achieve this milestone, we are confronted with the typical challenges faced by public companies. These include meeting shareholder expectations and striking a balance between growth and profitability. Additionally, we find ourselves in competition with and benchmarked against global tech giants like Apple, YouTube and Spotify.
Nevertheless, being listed on a high-profile global exchange also presents opportunities. Some of these include increased visibility, access to international capital and adherence to global best practices. Anghami’s advantage in the Middle East stems from its deep understanding of the region, allowing for differentiation through localized content that caters to regional preferences.
The NASDAQ listing enabled us to raise institutional capital and attract retail investors. This has in turn supported our growth, regional expansion and strategic pursuits, including acquisitions and partnerships. Despite the listing occurring just before a financial market meltdown and an increase in interest rates, which temporarily dampened investor appetite for the stock market as a whole, this is a transitory phase that doesn’t significantly affect Anghami’s core performance. We remain focused on achieving sustainable growth. This is evidenced by our latest Q3 2023 results, with 17 percent growth and an increase in margin to 22 percent.
Economy Middle East: How is Anghami contributing to the development of the MENA region’s digital music ecosystem?
Elie Habib: Anghami serves as a dynamic platform for both local and global artists, while actively nurturing talent diversity. Initiatives like “Anghami For Creators” highlight the company’s commitment to supporting independent musicians and fostering a thriving and inclusive creative community. Add to that Anghami Studios, where we connect artists to brands and help them grow their revenues.
Beyond its digital platform, Anghami’s impact extends to strategic initiatives aimed at nurturing the local music and entertainment ecosystem. These include Sound of Saudi, the biggest social talent hunt that took place in collaboration between Anghami, the Music Commission and TikTok. It generated 971 million views and brought over 32,000 participants to the competition.
When it comes to offline, Anghami presents Beat The Heat – the biggest Indie festival in Dubai – hosted every summer in the UAE with our offline arm Anghami Spotlight. We also have Riyadh Gigs, held at Anghami Lab, at the heart of Riyadh Boulevard.
These localized initiatives play a pivotal role in shaping and elevating the region’s music landscape. Anghami not only offers a platform for artists. We also actively contribute to the dynamic development and enrichment of the vibrant music scene in the MENA region by creating a full ecosystem. We offer them concerts/gigs and performance opportunities, among others.
Economy Middle East: As the CTO, what technological innovations or advancements do you foresee shaping the future of music streaming. How is Anghami preparing to leverage these developments?
Elie Habib: I believe that technology will continue to shape the future of both music and video streaming. Anghami is already incorporating AI to enhance user experiences.
In music streaming, Anghami employs AI and machine learning to create highly personalized listening experiences. With AI, we can offer customized music playlists and personalized podcasts. On the video streaming side, we have exciting technical enhancements in the pipeline. These include the integration of 4K capabilities, improved recommendations and an overall smoother and faster viewing experience.
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