Marc Antoine d’Halluin has been appointed CEO of leading Middle Eastern free-to-air satellite network MBC Group following the resignation in October of Sam Barnett as chief of the Dubai-based broadcaster.

D’Halluin, who will take up the post in January, has plenty of experience in the pay- and satellite-TV sphere both in Europe and the Middle East. He most recently served as chairman of Luxembourg-based pay-TV operator M7 Group and, prior to that, as CEO of Zodiak Media from 2013-2016. Between 2006 and 2008 he served as CEO of Showtime Arabia in Dubai.

D’Halluin’s appointment comes as the Saudi-controlled network, which has 2,800 employees and claims to reach an average of 140 million viewers a day across the Middle East through its satellite TV channels and online, is ramping up its premium streaming platforms, Shahid and Shahid Plus.

MBC Group Chairman and founder Waleed Al-Ibrahim said in a statement that d’Halluin’s mandate would be to focus on moving the company forward in line with its current five-year growth plan announced in late 2018. D’Halluin, who is French, praised Barnett for growing the company during his 17 year-tenure.

D’Halluin’s appointment follows the appointment in January of former Hulu exec Johannes Larcher, who recently launched its Shahid Originals unit. MBC has been stepping up production of Arabic long-form content through its expanded MBC studios headed by Peter Smith, former president of NBCUniversal International.

In November, MBC aired the $40 million, 14-episode “Kingdoms of Fire,” its most ambitious high-end drama, directed by British helmer Peter Weber (“Hannibal Rising”), which depicts 16th century Turkish-Arabic warfare during the fall of the Mamluk state in Egypt by Ottoman conquerors. It comes after MBC pulled the plug on Turkish soaps.

MBC last month also launched its first original production on Shahid, “ELDiva”, starring Lebanese singer, actor, and model Cyrine Abdel Nour.