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DAB+ Launches in Saudi Arabia

Transmissions begin in Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah with plans for more in 2024

Saudi Minister of Media Salman Al-Dosari (right) oversaw the launch of DAB+ in Saudi Arabia during the inauguration ceremony for the new media training academy. (Photo courtesy Saudi Press Agency)

On the evening of Aug. 7, 2023, the Saudi Broadcasting Authority officially launched DAB+ digital radio services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

SBA CEO Mohammed bin Fahad Al-Harthi described the launch of digital radio as “making a quantum leap in radio work.”

The SBA notes that bringing digital radio to Saudi Arabia means the country’s media is keeping pace with modern technological developments and increases its ability to provide a large number of diverse radio stations for listeners.

Additional benefits for DAB+ highlighted include reduced transmission infrastructure needs, lower energy costs, improved quality, and the ability to transmit visual and textual information.

DAB+ will create opportunities for media investors to provide additional radio options in the country, as well as streamline regulatory compliance, SBA stated.

The first three multiplexes went on air in the capital city, Riyadh; the Red Sea port city of Jeddah; and the Eastern Province capital of Dammam. By year-end 2024, SBA plans to extend DAB+ to 11 additional cities, as well as to travel routes across the kingdom.

The Riyadh and Dammam multiplexes will operate in VHF band III block 11A, while the Jeddah one will operate in block 9A.

Since the start of 2021, new in-car and home radio receivers sold in Saudi Arabia have been required to include DAB+ reception support.

Al-Harthi announced the DAB+ launch at the inauguration of a new training academy for Saudi media professionals. He said the academy will offer training programs for journalism, radio and television production, digital media, and more, serving as an incubator for the development of local talent with skills in line with the highest of international standards.