Acast expands Middle East and North Africa footprint with two new partnerships

Podcast networks Sowt and Kerning Cultures join the Acast network

Independent podcast company Acast is expanding its international presence with two new partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa region, the company has announced. 

Sowt is an independent podcasting network based in Amman which has produced over 25 shows since launching in 2017. The company recently partnered with US-based organisation Doha Debates to produce the organisation’s first Arabic-language podcast Lana which launched in March this year. 

Kerning Cultures Network is also well-known in the Middle East for producing a number of award-winning podcasts in both Arabic and English. It was founded in 2015 as the first female-led venture-funded podcast company in the MENA region. 

With these partnerships, both podcast networks will be able to access Acast’s monetisation tools which allow advertisers to buy both sponsorships and spot ads either programmatically or direct. While Acast already works with podcast advertisers that are active in the region, including Aramco and The Public Investment Fund, this is a first for Acast in terms of hosting Arabic-language podcasts. 

“We consistently seek opportunities to support the growth of the podcast industry and to provide value to content creators,” said Acast International creator network business development director Adam Uytman. “With these partnerships, we will put thoughtful and noteworthy topics on a central stage in Arabic, and we will connect global and local advertisers with Sowt and Kerning Cultures Network to ensure they are able to continue to produce more and more podcasts.”

Both Sowt and Kerning Cultures Network took part in this year’s third-annual Dubai Podfest, the region’s largest gathering of podcasters, which took place on 16 May. At the event, Dr. Maitha Buhumaid, the director of festival organiser Dubai Press Club, revealed data from a study by Northwestern University on podcast consumption in the Middle East. 

According to the report, three out of 10 Arab individuals are podcast listeners and engagement proves to be highest with the youth, ranging from 23% to 33% across all categories in the region. 

Acast has signed a number of recent partnerships to expand over international podcast markets including Asia, North America, and Europe. The podcast company now hosts podcasts across a range of languages including Danish, Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Swedish, and more. 

“Acast moving into MENA is the first time an international player demonstrates a serious interest in building the creator economy for podcasters regionally, and it’s smart: podcasts are an estimated $6 billion market opportunity in MENA and have largely gone untapped,” said Kerning Cultures Network co-founder and CEO Hebah Fisher. “We’re thrilled to partner with Acast to grow our ad sales both locally and globally.”