Popular Lebanese music streaming platform Anghami moving to Abu Dhabi

The Beirut-based company said they failed to attract investment in Lebanon amid the financial crisis.

al-monitor Lebanese women chant anti-government songs during ongoing protests in the downtown district of the capital, Beirut, on Nov. 10, 2019. The nationwide protest movement is over poor services and economic woes. Photo by PATRICK BAZ/AFP via Getty Images.

Topics covered

investment, abu dhabi, beirut, financial crisis, music

Jan 27, 2021

The popular Lebanese music streaming service Anghami is moving its headquarters to Abu Dhabi.

Anghami co-founder Elie Habib said the financial crisis in Lebanon prohibited them from attracting investments and prompted them to leave.

“Over the past 2 years, we tried hard to bring more investment to Lebanon but to no ado,” Habib said in a lengthy Twitter thread.

Anghami is a free music streaming service with more than 70 million users. Its mission is to provide a “legal music alternative” that fairly compensates artists in the Middle East where piracy is rampant, according to the Anghami website.

The music is geared toward a Middle Eastern audience with playlists such as Lebanese Chill and Arabian Lounge. A majority of its employees are Lebanese, according to Habib.

Lebanon is currently in a crippling financial crisis that began in 2019. Unemployment has risen and wages have dropped significantly. Last year, banks instituted strict capital controls as the value of the Lebanese pound plummeted against the US dollar.

In August, a massive explosion in Beirut’s port destroyed much of the city, killed more than 200 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. The explosion along with the worsening COVID-19 pandemic have further exacerbated the situation.

Habib said 2019 was the beginning of the end for the company in his native Lebanon.

“Little did we know that 2019 would end with lashed hope of country revival, followed by a domino of doom that started [with] a financial crisis [and] strapped funds and ended with human suffering on Aug. 4,” he said.

Habib made a “promise” that Anghami’s Beirut office would remain open. Its main base, however, will be in Abu Dhabi. Working in the capital of the United Arab Emirates will allow Anghami to grow and attract further investment, he said.

“A city that welcomed us with utmost support. Well beyond our expectations. A city that will invest in our team, technology and research over the many years to come,” he said of Abu Dhabi.

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