ABS Network, a broadcast services company headquartered in Dubai, recently opened a new facility in Washington D.C. as part of its ongoing international expansion plans.
ABS opened an office in Washing D.C. in May, and was busy preparing infrastructure including fibre links in August with a view to be able to start a full range of broadcast services.
“We moved to D.C. because all the main Arabic channels are there and they want to broadcast back to the Middle East so we need to have some structures there with the fibre links,” said Mohammad Elajlouni, chairman, ABS Network, told Digital Studio.
The next step will be to connect the Washington D.C. office to an office in New York, he added. ABS currently has 10 employees in the US and will soon take on more staff including technicians, cameramen, reporters and editors.
The US expansion is important for ABS due to the focus of global news agencies on the Middle East and the fact that ABS is one of the main providers of reports to many of the main news channels. “They [the channels] have been requesting more services and more equipment, so that demand led us to expand,” Elajlouni said. “We are mainly providing for the news channels as Washington D.C. is one of the capitals for politics and we have to be there to link between all the news channels that we are providing in the Middle East, and to link it with the US because of its importance.”
ABS Network is not only expanding in the US. The company also recently opened a new office in Turkey’s capital city, Ankara, adding to its two existing offices in Istanbul.
The company opened a new office in Aden, Yemen earlier in the year and plans to open offices in Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah and Riyadh, in the coming 12-18 months. “We are expanding all our equipment and all our offices. We are also turning to HD services because of what is going on in the Middle East. All the channels need more services,” Elajlouni said.
In the next two to three years, ABS Network also aims to establish a presence in Europe with offices in London and Paris.
In terms of the main challenges that ABS faces, Elajlouni pointed to the frequent technology changes and upgrades. “The main thing is the changing technology. Every day there are new updates in technology so you have to invest more money. This is the challenge - that we have to update it. This is especially challenging in some parts of the Middle East where there are wars going on. We have offices in Iraq and in Yemen. We have staff there and we have to make sure they are safe,” Elajlouni said.
It was also ABS Network’s growing footprint in the Middle East, Turkey and the US that led it to establish the Arab24 news agency, which gathers news and is used as a new source by international news channels including Reuters, CNN and Al Jazeera Network.
ABS Network: In profile
ABS Network is headquartered in Dubai and has 15 offices around the Middle East, Turkey and the US. It has about 400 staff across all of its offices.
Founded in 1993, ABS Network was one of the few companies operating in Iraq during the first Gulf War.
ABS Network provides broadcasters with all the services they need to cover breaking news and events – from fully equipped studios, live coverage, archive material, camera crews, and OB vans for outside events. It has about 30 SNG vans in use across the region.