A new report from the Jordan-based Arab Advisors Group finds that the number of FM radio stations in the 18 Arab countries has risen to 316, up from 211 stations in February 2007.
Algeria and the United Arab Emirates have the highest number of local, government-owned FM radio stations; the highest numbers of private local stations are in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon. The group also identified nine regional stations broadcasting on FM in multiple countries.
The report, “FM Radio in the Arab World 2008” (table of contents [PDF]), was authored by Arab Advisors analyst Firas El Farr and covers Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen.
“State-owned FM radio stations in the Arab World still outnumber private FM radio stations, although the number of private ones has grown rapidly and is approaching the number of state-owned radio stations,” wrote El Farr. “There are 157 local state-owned radio stations in the 18 covered countries and 150 local private FM radio stations.”
The past few years have seen several nations in the region liberalize their broadcasting regulations to allow for private FM radio stations. Libya and Oman, for instance, opened the airwaves to private FM radio stations in 2007; Kuwait allowed private radio in 2004; and Bahrain allowed private broadcasting in 2003.
Adding to the growth in stations, even in nations where private broadcasting is not allowed, is a need to cater to expatriates in different languages. The UAE, for example, has FM radio stations broadcasting in Arabic, English, Filipino/Tagalog, Hindi, Malayalam and Urdu.