Caroline Faraj was today named to the new role of VP Arabic Services for CNN as the international news leader signaled its ambitious growth plans for the Middle East.
In this new position, she will have strategic oversight of CNNArabic.com while also working alongside CNN’s Middle East newsgathering team and the CNN Abu Dhabi operation on major cross-platform editorial initiatives and with the CNNI Commercial and Digital teams on new digital opportunities in the region.
“CNN Arabic has proved an outstanding success story under Caroline’s leadership and has demonstrated the region’s growing digital appetite for our news product,” said Andrew Morse, EVP & GM, CNN Digital. “Audiences have embraced the increased video content across the site, and user interaction and engagement is growing. There’s clearly a big opportunity in the Middle East and Caroline is well positioned to help us tap into it.”
Faraj’s immediate focus is on continuing the expansion of the CNN Arabic brand, while also expanding the CNN Dubai operation to allow for increased content development to feed all of CNN’s linear and non-linear platforms.
CNN’s ambition to continue to evolve its Middle East presence is a key component of parent company Turner Broadcasting’s longstanding commitment to the region.
“Our continued investment under Caroline’s leadership in CNN Arabic reflects the strength of our aspirations for this region,” added Rani R Raad, Turner MD for the Middle East and Chief Commercial Officer for CNN International. “Caroline is perfectly placed in this new role to continue to enrich the news content we offer our consumers, while also helping us to develop exciting new digital propositions that will engage audiences and excite our partners.”
CNN Arabic, launched in 2002, underwent a radical reinvention in 2014 which saw a new responsive design coupled with a range of new features to ensure a seamless user experience across all devices. The greater emphasis on video as well as the introduction of new social and interactive elements was part of its ambition to embrace relevant new formats in one of the world’s fastest growing digital markets. The site has since seen a huge uplift in video starts, as well as a dramatic increase in page views, Twitter referrals and Facebook referrals (Source Adobe Omniture.)
Since CNN Arabic launched in 2002, CNN’s presence in the region has grown to include the CNN Abu Dhabi bureau which opened in 2009, from where it produces and broadcasts the nightly ‘Connect the World with Becky Anderson’ as well as a suite of feature shows ‘Inside the Middle East’, ‘CNN Marketplace Middle East’ and ‘One Square Meter’. CNN also operates a number of news bureaux across the Middle East.
Independent data from Ipsos in July 2014 confirmed CNN as the undisputed #1 amongst international news brands across Middle East, reaching 37% of affluents in the Middle East via TV and digital platforms every month.