Universal Music Group Acquires UAE-Based Chabaka Music, Its Second Major Move In The Fast-Growing MENA Region

UMG has acquired Chabaka Music, a marketing and distribution agency that provides services in the MENA region
  • Save

UMG has acquired Chabaka Music, a marketing and distribution agency that provides services in the MENA region
  • Save
Photo Credit: Universal Music Group

UMG has acquired Chabaka Music, a digitally-focused music marketing and distribution agency that provides services in the Middle East and North Africa — the MENA region.

Universal Music Group confirmed the news this morning in an email to Digital Music News. “The acquisition of Chabaka complements UMG’s current service offering and footprint in the fast-growing and dynamic MENA market, which saw growth in recorded music revenues of 23.8% in 2022. It will allow UMG to expand its services and reach within the independent label and artist community,” the label wrote.

The acquisition marks another step towards UMG’s strategic goal of tapping into ‘one of the fastest-growing music markets in the world.’ Following the acquisition, Chabaka becomes part of UMG’s Virgin Music Group and will work alongside MENA’s local Virgin and UMG teams.

Chabaka is part of the CHBK Group, which also owns Concast and Boomerang Studios. Key members of the Chabaka team, including cofounder and CEO Ala’a Makki, will retain their positions. Cofounder Tarek Makki will continue to serve as advisor while continuing his leadership of other companies within CHBK Group.

Patrick Boulos, CEO of UMG in MENA, believes the region represents untapped potential and opportunity, and Chabaka will give UMG both scale and opportunity ‘especially when combined with UMG’s world-leading global platform.’

Boulos added, “Chabaka is a unique collection of visionary leaders, artists, and labels. I am particularly pleased that Ala’a Makki and his team will join us and drive the next chapter of Chabaka’s success as part of the UMG family.”

Ala’a Makki also spoke about the tie-up and the steady growth in MENA’s music markets. “These are exciting times for the region, and we are thrilled to announce the partnership between Chabaka and UMG.”

Tarek Makki, cofounder Chabaka, said, “With UMG’s global platform, expertise, network, and Chabaka’s deep-rooted local experience and presence, we’re all set to bring an extraordinary and unique offering to the market.”

The acquisition marks Universal Music Group’s second major venture in the MENA Region.

In 2021, UMG paired with entrepreneur Wassim Slaiby to launch Universal Arabic Music. Back then, UMG stated that it aimed to ‘create new opportunities to advance Arabic music and culture with global partners, platforms, and brands.’

In a bid to achieve that goal, UMG also promoted Frédéric Voillemot to CFO and EVP of Business Development for Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

The music industry within the MENA region has been attracting heightened international interest.

Alongside UMG’s 2021 debut of Universal Arabic Music, other major labels also dove into the region. Warner Music invested millions in Rotana Music, acquired Dubai-based distributor Qanawat Music, and launched Warner Music Israel. Meanwhile, Sony Music announced a talent-focused exclusive partnership with Egyptian production and artist management company, Craft Media.