February 4, 2020 / 2:37 PM / 20 days ago

REFILE-Alibaba-backed fund to build HQ in Saudi 'media city'

(Refiles to amend minister's title in paragraphs 2 and 3)

DUBAI/RIYADH, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with a fund linked to China's Alibaba to build a new headquarters in a "media city" in the kingdom's capital, the Saudi minister of culture said on Tuesday.

The minister, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, said on Twitter that he signed the agreement with Jerry Li, founding partner of eWTP Capital, which is backed by Jack Ma, head of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.

"An important first step to strengthen our partnerships and attract innovators from all over the world," Prince Badr, who is also the chairman of the new media city, said on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, has struggled to attract tech giants such as Google and Amazon, which it has courted as part of the kingdom's push to diversify its oil-reliant economy.

The minister also said an agreement had been reached to build a new headquarters for Saudi-controlled media group MBC, as well as a new hub for MBC-owned sister news channels Al Arabiya and Al Hadath.

The media city will be in the embassies district of Riyadh, state TV said on Twitter.

It will be in competition with Dubai Media City in the United Arab Emirates. The Dubai project is the region's leading media hub and where MBC Group is currently headquartered. (Reporting by Yousef Saba in Dubai and Stephen Kalin in Riyadh Additional reporting by Nayera Abdallah in Dubai Editing by David Goodman)

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