Universal Music Group recently announced the launch of their new Middle Eastern division Universal Arabic Music with the goal of discovering and bringing artists in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region to the world.
At the helm of the new label is Lebanese-Canadian record executive Wassim Slaiby, CEO of SALXCO and XO Records. Known to most as “Sal”, he rose to fame as the manager of R&B superstar The Weeknd and rapper/songwriter Belly, and now counts NAV, French Montana, Metro Boomin, Doja Cat, Bebe Rexha, Ty Dolla $ign, Rowdy Rebel and Swedish House Mafia among his long list of clients. With his notable accomplishments in pop music, Slaiby is perfectly positioned to execute on UMG’s goal of brining Arabic music to the mainstream.
He recently took to Instagram to share the news of the new venture with a quote from a recent Forbes Middle East article stating, “I want to see Arabic music win on a global level”.
He went on to note, “My journey has been a great lesson in life. The best part of it is I get to enjoy it with my beautiful family and the team I started with from day one. Forever grateful!”
His long-time client, singer-songwriter Massari, also has a role at the new label as Head A&R.
“It has always been a dream of mine to showcase and highlight the beauty of both cultures through music and entertainment,” says Massari. “I believe this is an evolutionary step towards creating a new genre of music that the world has been waiting for.”
Among Slaiby’s first signings is teenage Jordanian sensation Issam Alnajjar whose song “Hadal Ahbek” has amassed over three billion streams on Tik Tok and 57 million views on YouTube so far. The song also landed at #1 on Spotify’s Viral Global and US Charts and Shazam’s Top 200 Global Chart.
For UMG, Alnajjar is the perfect example of the type of talent the new label will bring to the world.
“In today’s global music marketplace, we’ve demonstrated time and again that worldwide hits come from anywhere,” said UMG Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge. “There’s so much talent in this part of the world that with SAL’s incredible experience and intimate knowledge of the MENA region, alongside his track record for helping to break global artists, he’ll bring a unique vision, strategy and power to UAM.”