Universal Launches Arabic Music Label With Weeknd Manager Wassim ‘Sal’ Slaiby and Republic

Universal Music Group has announced the launch of Universal Arabic Music (UAM), a newly created label dedicated to discovering, introducing and championing the artists, sounds and rich musical culture of the Middle East & North Africa region to audiences around the world. Republic Records and its parent company UMG founded the new label in partnership with music executive Wassim “Sal” Slaiby (pictured above, left), whose SalXCo manages the Weeknd, Doja Cat, Brandy, French Montana, Belly and others.

The new label was unveiled today by UMG Chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge (pictured above, center), Republic Records Founder and CEO Monte Lipman (above, right), and Slaiby, who will serve as founder and CEO of Universal Arabic Music, effective immediately. Slaiby, a native of Lebanon, was named Variety‘s Hitmakers Manager of the Year for 2020.

According to the announcement, UAM will “focus on elevating Arabic music and artists to the forefront of popular music culture and help shine a global spotlight on the next wave of artists and talent from the region to break through, while creating new opportunities to introduce Arabic music and culture to new partners, platforms and brands worldwide.”

UAM is building a team of experts who speak Arabic and have a deep understanding of Arabic music and culture. This team will be dedicated to Arabic music and will work alongside UMG’s labels in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, France, Germany, Australia, Mexico— as well as UMG’s existing operations in the MENA region—to discover, sign and promote global artists of Middle Eastern and North African descent and bring them to fans worldwide.

Setting the tone for the label’s goals, UAM marked the launch during National Arab American Heritage Month with the signing of 17-year-old Jordanian singer/songwriter Issam Alnajjar, who has already topped Spotify’s Viral Global and US Charts and Shazam’s Top 200 Global Chart with his debut single “Hadal Ahbek.” Sal also discovered and developed 19-year-old Palestinian-Chilean singer/songwriter Elyanna, who first gained traction after posting covers on Soundcloud.

Grainge said, “In today’s global music marketplace, we’ve demonstrated time and again that worldwide hits come from anywhere. There is 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 will bring a unique vision, strategy and power to Universal Arabic Music.”

Lipman added, “Sal’s clear vision and blueprint for Universal Arabic Music will become a catalyst for Arabic music in the marketplace. His ability to identify, curate and deliver talent globally remains a force of nature. The cultural importance of music from the MENA region crossing boundaries and reaching all corners of the world is long overdue.”

Slaiby said, “It’s been my dream to highlight the talent and culture of Arabic music on a global level with partners that I trust and admire.”

More news on UAM signings and forthcoming releases will be announced soon.