Fighting piracy continues and huge projects in Saudi Arabia
Co-founder and CEO of Anghami, Elie Habib, objected to voices saying to him: Stop man, what are you doing? Other skeptical voices whispered: “Are you really going to compete with music platforms? You will fail!” Avoid investing too much in a company that was launched in 2012 with a shy budget: only $1 million. Ten years will pass since the dreamy birth, next year, and Habib told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The ambition is still great.” The company enters into a $220 million listing on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange through Vistas Media Acquisition, a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). A success story that stems from Lebanon with dreams that are wide-ranging, and aspires to expand in Egypt, the UAE and North Africa, with a special investment in Saudi Arabia: “The Kingdom will be our next destination. We are preparing for a major investment at the end of the year, and are excited to contribute to the ambitions of Saudi music-loving youth.”
Anghami is anticipating the completion of the merger process in less than two months, with an eye on projects and profits. $30 million is the number it exceeded last year, with more than 80 million users, an average of 15 million per month. “Yes, the challenges are enormous,” Habib says. He recalls the day he and his co-founder Eddie Maron decided to establish a company that emphasizes respect for Arab privacy, and reveals the secret of excellence: “We work in a different way. We do not imitate giant companies or copy their experience. Our region has its own identity. Whoever wanders the streets of New York or the Paris metro, will have different ideas than a young man walking in Riyadh or Cairo. Our goal is to reduce distances.
Anghami likes to emphasize the knowledge of Arab culture and the tastes of young people: “We provide Arab users with specificities according to geography. Not the target User question: What do you want? It made him feel it.
Our ambition is to connect the world to the Arab region by integrating music and technology.”
Elie Habib and Eddie Maroun did not want to sell “Anghami”, and thank you, goodbye. They wanted to expand and inspire. The demand for audio content is increasing and the music sector is generating high revenues. The two Lebanese partners own about 35 percent of the company, and the rest is distributed among shareholders, venture capital companies, telecommunications groups and the media. In nine years, Anghami becomes the second Middle Eastern company to be listed on an American stock exchange and the first in terms of being an Arab technology company. A tough number related to company rating, reputation and outreach. Dreams are the greatest weapon.
Habib talks about the number one competitor: “Not Spotify, Deezer and iTunes, but piracy.
Laws that preserve rights and ensure that music is not stolen and CDs are copied for illegal sale are still limited. We did not win the war, but we are progressing. I did not imagine that 1.5 million users would pay money for music, and that companies would take care of advertising. The number is rising due to confidence.”
The company has spent years explaining to the user that music is valuable, and an artist cannot continue for free. “Anghami” provides a free service, and many advertising companies believe in this path, which increases the investment. For those who want additional features, head to the paid service.
The subscription method is facilitated for those who do not have a credit card: “We cooperate with 37 Arab telecommunications companies, through which payments can be made over the phone. We are also intensifying cooperation with artists, most recently Elissa and the podcast series, so that they become a bridge between the company and the user. The company allows them to identify by numbers the number of listeners, the age group, and the region most listened to their songs. Integrated data.
The biggest ambition: “To become the radio station of the Arab world.” Anghami has also worked with televisions such as MBC and has partnerships with Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music. She bears the concern of preserving Arab culture despite the listing process: “We are not only Lebanese. We are Arabs,” stresses Elie Habib. Anghami employees come from all over the Arab world, and its offices are in the capitals. It always seeks to increase listening to Arabic music through the application, so the percentage of listening to Western music is not a forerunner and essential: “It is important, but we do not want our music to disappear. The youth loves the West. We are working to attract him to the music of his country.”
More than 150 songs were produced by Anghami without promoting itself as a production company. She looks to Saudi Arabia as a destination to realize her dreams: “We are working with more than one company to create a new (Anghami) in the Kingdom. We plan to open a huge office and be directly linked to Vision 2030 and its entertainment side.” “A hero, a hero, Tariq, for any different competitor, your silver is gold, and you are our gold,” a gift song from “Anghami” to Saudi Olympic champion Tariq Hamdi.
A Lebanese global success story, linking music with technology and “business”. The task is daunting, especially since it began as a dreamy idea that did not gain consensus. Whenever Habib remembers the extent of doubt and rejection in the beginning, he is proud of the achievement and waves at him. What success? For him, it is to live without being satisfied with it.
And also to inspire others and make them raise the slogan “No to the Impossible.” He dreams of investment that knows no bounds, and of bringing in more developers from different nationalities. what’s new? « (Anghami LAB Project); Technology entertainment space, as a mixture of food and music. We are looking for innovative ideas for expansion.
The project is huge, incubated by the UAE and Saudi Arabia. It is a step forward in competing with the big companies.”
The decision was taken last January to move the company’s global headquarters from Beirut to Abu Dhabi. Habib laments: “The Lebanese capital is no longer the best place to dream. It hurts. We will not lose hope in Beirut and we will not close its office. We will return.”
The move was made with the support of the Abu Dhabi Government Investment and Development Office (ADIO). Gulf watching the future with a smile on streaming and subscription-based content. Anghami is good at the game: creative ideas and exceptional effort.
The first Arabic music broadcasting app in the world, its initial investment is one million dollars, and today the company’s valuation exceeds 200 million dollars. A simple idea that dazzles like magic.