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March 1, 2010

A rubber boot company and the world’s biggest collection of Arabic digital music

Nokia-X6-1GLOBAL – This morning I stumbled across an interesting piece on 360° East – a fascinating blog on all things design, media and technology from the Arab region – pondering the social, economic and cultural effects of Nokia offering the world’s largest library of Arabic digital music via Comes With Music.

The site is written by a guy called Ahmad Humeid, one of Jordan’s top bloggers, and his piece entitled “Who can revolutionize Arabic music? A bunch of people from Finland and their friends, perhaps?” asks some smart questions and offers some insightful and very open commentary on Nokia’s approach to local music and the wider potentially positive impacts.

Early in his piece Ahmad highlights Nokia’s keen focus on offering locally tailored solutions for greater global relevancy, citing music as perhaps the most culturally significant breed of localized content.

“And what is more local than a culture’s songs and music? What Arab internet companies have failed to do so far, Finnish Nokia has just accomplished: creating the largest Arabic digital music store and working on putting it in the hands of millions of Arab consumers. It has launched its ‘Comes with Music’ initiative in 11 new Arab markets recently in a glitzy Beirut event to which I was invited (along with a huge contingent of Arab journalists and bloggers). These countries are Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestinian Territories, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.”

On attending a recent Comes With Music event in Beirut, Ahmad spoke to Raby Hamza, Nokia’s Label Manager in the Middle East, about Nokia’s approach to bringing aboard local music companies and independent labels in the region. Considering the cultural, social and economic possibilities he had this to say:

“So it could be possible that, in the coming years, a bunch of guys in a garage band in Zarqa or a teenage girl with amazing vocal talents in Saudi will be able to sell their music on the Nokia music store and build an online following instead of going through big corporate labels. And although all of this is driven by commerce and a quest to sell more mobile phones, the cultural implications are potentially big. Will making music become a way to make a living for more young Arabs? Will this music store (an the inevitable competitors who will follow) affect the development of Arabic music and singing itself, by enabling people to discover new emerging genres of Arabic musical expression?”

What do you think?

If you’re interested in reading the full story, visit Ahmad’s blog. It’s certainly worth a look.