Radio Mirchi, a Hindi-language station, has hit the airwaves in the UAE as part of a global expansion drive by India's largest FM brand.
The Bollywood star Rani Mukherjee was in Abu Dhabi yesterday to launch the station, which features a mixture of music and chat.
It is part of a collaboration between the Entertainment Network, a subsidiary of The Times of India Group, and Abu Dhabi Media (ADM), which also owns and publishes The National. ADM will broadcast the station over three frequencies in the UAE, to target both audience share and advertising dollars.
Malcolm Wall, the chief executive of ADM, said Radio Mirchi marked the company's first foray into Hindi-language broadcasting.
He added that he saw a "gap in the market" for the station, for both commercial and public service reasons.
"We're absolutely certain we'll make this self-funding, and a commercial success," said Mr Wall. "We're putting considerable investment in this; obviously we hope to see a return."
Mr Wall said the station also had a public service function in helping the Government to reach out to the UAE's sizeable South Asian population.
"On a public service basis, it is the only medium that we have that is in the Hindi language," he said. "To be able to offer that to the Government was also an important part of this launch."
Prashant Panday, the chief executive of Entertainment Network (India), said the company had been planning to expand globally for some time.
"This is the first time the brand is stepping outside India," he said.
Mr Panday added that the company had received enquiries about launching the Radio Mirchi brand in "at least a dozen" other markets.
These include the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, other GCC countries, South Africa and Singapore, he said. Mr Panday said the company was also interested in opportunities in less-developed radio markets.
"At some point in time we'd be very keen on entering China, eastern Europe - places where the radio market is not developed very much."
The first Radio Mirchi station launched in 2001 and the brand now has a network of 32 stations across India and claims total audiences of 40 million.
Mr Panday said Radio Mirchi was also looking to "bid very aggressively" for further licences in India.
"We are 32 stations right now and we plan to expand that network very strongly [to] more than double, maybe triple," he said.
In the UAE, Radio Mirchi will compete with a number of other radio stations catering to South Asian expatriates.
These include City 101.6, which focuses on Bollywood entertainment, and Hit 96.7 FM, which is geared towards Indian expatriates from Kerala.
Radio attracts a tiny proportion of the US$4 billion (Dh14.69bn) advertising spending in the Arab world, which is dominated by television and newspaper media. Mr Wall said he did not expect big gains in the UAE advertising market this year - but said he hoped to grow ADM's share of the radio market through the launch of the new station.