Music Business Worldwide has reported that Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced a significant expansion of its operations within the Middle East & North Africa (MENA), with the launch of new divisions in Morocco and Israel, effective immediately.

UMG becomes the first major music company to establish standalone offices in Morocco and Israel, adding to its existing network of UMG operations in more than 60 countries worldwide.

Announcing the strategic expansion and new divisions, Adam Granite, EVP, Market Development at Universal Music Group said, “As part of our global commitment to discover and support music talent around the world, we are excited to launch our new standalone UMG operations within the Middle-East and North Africa, in order to accelerate our ability to support local artistry and talent in Israel, Morocco and surrounding countries.

“Our intention is to provide real support, infrastructure and people on the ground in each country, helping the entire regional music ecosystem grow, and giving local artists the best opportunity to reach new audiences around the world. These offices will help UMG become a vital part of the regional music ecosystem and to help bring these new sounds and artist talent to music fans around the world.”

Universal Music Morocco will operate from Casablanca, under the leadership of local business development executive Serena Safieddine, who will work alongside UMG’s existing regional headquarters in Dubai, and will report into Patrick Boulos, CEO, Universal Music MENA.

Universal says its Morocco operation will focus on A&R, creative and commercial partnerships, while working to ensure that local North African artists can reach global audiences audiences. Successful local repertoire in North Africa includes traditional Arabic music and North-African hip-hop from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

The team in Morocco will develop key projects alongside Universal Music France, where labels have previously achieved success with French-language artists from the region.

Patrick Boulos said, “Our new team in Morocco will help accelerate growth, talent discovery and commercial opportunities for our artists and partners across the region and beyond. Within Morocco and their immediate neighbours, there is a wealth of untapped artist talent and we are excited to introduce these unique sounds to global audiences, platforms and partners.”

Serena Safieddine said, “I am delighted to be officially launching Universal Music Morocco. We will work with all of our local partners and platforms, and together within the artist community to help shine a spotlight on the great talent from the region.”

Universal Music Israel will be based in Tel Aviv and will operate under the leadership of experienced media business executive Yoram Mokady, who has been appointed as MD, Universal Music Israel, effective immediately.

Mokady will report directly to Adam Granite, EVP, Market Development at UMG. Universal Music Israel will focus on the signing and developing of domestic artist talent, alongside exploring creative opportunities for commercial partnerships, new technology and innovation for artists, labels and partners within Israel.

Mokady joins UMG from HOT Telecommunications, Israel’s leading cable-provider where he served as Vice-President, Content and was responsible for management of all content activities including original productions, VOD, purchased series, purchased linear channels and HOT’s unique own linear channels.

Prior to leading content strategy, he served as Vice-President, Strategy and Regulation between 2008-2010. He is a qualified lawyer and has previously served as both Chairman of Israel’s Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting and as Executive Director for the Israeli Broadcasting Regulatory Administration.

Adam Granite “I am delighted to welcome Yoram to UMG and to launch our division in Israel. His extensive experience in managing entertainment content and his proven track record of successful creative, marketing and business leadership, will be vital in establishing Universal Music Israel as the home for Israeli artist and creator talent in the future.”

Yoram Mokady said “We are excited to announce the arrival of UMG, the world’s leading music company into Israel, which will provide a welcome boost for the entire Israeli artist community, whilst strengthening the wider music ecosystem within the country.

“As the first major global music company in-market, UMG will look to identify, sign and develop the best domestic artist talent, whilst working closely with partners, technology companies and local start-ups to create innovative campaigns and projects to help UMG artists to reach the widest possible audience worldwide.”

As reported in Music Business Worldwide.

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