Afghan Biographies

Mohsini, Saad Mohseni

Name Mohsini, Saad Mohseni
Ethnic backgr. Hazara
Date of birth 1966
Function/Grade Chairman Moby Group and Founder ACRPS
History and Biodata

2. Previous Functions:
Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) Founder
Chairman Moby Group

Mohsini_SaadSaad Mohseni was born April 23, 1966 in London and grew up in Melbourne where his father moved in the 1980s after the Soviet takeover of Afghanistan. After the American-led invasion in 2001, he returned to Afghanistan with his two brothers and his sister. He had lived there for two stretches, once from the ages of 3 to 7 and again from 9 to 12.

He is one of the three founders of Afghanistan's Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) and the Chairman of of Moby Media Group. Mohseni is an Afghan Australian who returned to his native Afghanistan in 2004 along with his brothers Zaid Mohseni and Jahid Mohseni, and sister Wajma Mohseni, to create the country’s most diverse media company. Mohseni has extensive background in investment banking, equities and financial markets in Melbourne, Sydney and London. Prior to establishing Moby Media Group, Saad headed an Australian investment banking entity’s Equities and Corporate Finance Divisions. 

Mohseni has built a business in the bubble of security and prosperity afforded by the international presence in the country. He has done this with the start-up help of United States government money and with a cash injection from News Corporation, led by his friend Rupert Murdoch, with whom he shares an Australian background, a love of gossip and an obvious industriousness. It received $2.2 million from the United States Agency for International Development to help with start-up costs, he said, on top of which the Mohsenis invested $10 million of their own money. In addition, the company received financial support from the United States government to produce a small number of local-content programs. United States officials would not comment on aid to individual companies, though in total the State Department and USAid have spent about $166 million to support media development in Afghanistan.

As a private company, Moby does not state its earnings publicly, but people familiar with its performance say it is likely to post revenue of more than $60 million in its current fiscal year. His company employs about 1,000 people, most of them in Kabul, but it will soon have about 20 offices in six countries. Its headquarters is in Dubai, and its strategy is to continue to grow in Afghanistan but to diversify into other countries in the region — like Iran, Iraq and Libya. He explains the new direction as a natural progression: to set up operations in large, underserved and often under-stress countries with the potential to grow.

Mohseni’s relationship with President Karzai has been confrontational. Mohseni says that there have been times when he has sat in the presidential palace, showering angry criticism on the president and wondering whether he would be allowed to leave. Some TV shows have also met resistance from religious leaders and officials. Employees have been arrested, and there were death threats, Mohseni said. His brother Zaid was detained by the national intelligence agency after one of their programs broadcast a report containing criticism of government corruption. And there was a nasty standoff in 2007 with the attorney general at the time, who thought he had been quoted out of context. He sent police officers to Tolo’s headquarters. Three staff members were arrested, and later released. Mr. Mohseni had to go into hiding for a few weeks.(20130728)

These days, his brother Zaid runs the Afghan business, spending five days a week in Kabul overseeing their young and enthusiastic posse of reporters, editors and producers. Mohseni works mostly from Dubai, where he lives with his wife, Sarah Takesh, and their two young children. (20130728)

Moby Media Group has 409 Afghan employees and is operated out of Kabul and has 15 bureaus throughout Afghanistan with offices in Dushanbe (Tajikistan) and Dubai (UAE). Moby is dedicated to the advancement and involvement of local nationals in the growth of their countries and to building and sustaining local professional media skills.

Based on external survey numbers, Moby Group can claim that its media outlets reach some 11 million Afghans every day, representing some 70% of the total media audience in the country. Moby's media interests include Tolo TV (Afghanistan’s most watched television station), Lemar TV and Arman FM (Afghanistan’s most listened to radio network). All three are national terrestrial free-to-air networks available throughout the country. Viewers and listeners can also tune in via satellite in Asia, North America and Europe. Increasingly, Tolo and Lemar are also acquiring foreign audiences from Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the GCC and Lemar (Pakistan and the GCC).

In 2009, Moby Group has launched a third television station named Farsi1, which it describes as the "first international free-to-air general entertainment TV channel in Persian". Quqnoos is an online news site run out of Moby's newsroom in Kabul. It covers all Afghanistan-related news in Persian, Pashto, and English. Moby Media Updates (MMU) collates Afghanistan's top related international news and delivers it daily to subscribers' inboxes. Khazana Capital is an investment bank incorporated in 2007 under the laws of Afghanistan to work closely with both the public and private sectors to create, re-structure, and re-organise business enterprises in a consulting capacity as well as to assist in raising capital working with the various international agencies and financial institutions in an asset management function. The company is part owned by Moby and operated by a small team of well-qualified and experienced bankers and lawyers based in Kabul and Dubai. Mr. Saad Mohseni, CEO Arman Radio and Tolo TV, Kabul Afghanistan, Board member AICC,

More Mohseni background from The New Yorker:
"But to start an FM radio station would require half a million dollars, and the Mohsenis at that time could put up only three hundred thousand. Still, Mohseni mentioned his interest to his friend Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist and author. Rashid was having dinner a few days later with Andrew Natsios, the administrator of U.S.A.I.D., and said that he would pitch the idea of investing. Rashid recalls, “I told Natsios about this great Australian who wanted to rebuild Afghanistan and spend his own money.” He was impressed that all the siblings were willing to leave Australia and set up a business. “They were ready to ditch everything, unlike most expats who wanted to visit for six months,” he says. The U.S. has a long history of funding foreign media to further its policy aims. During the Cold War, the C.I.A. secretly funded Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, which were beamed into the Soviet Bloc. In Afghanistan (as in Iraq), the State Department and U.S.A.I.D. have openly supported independent media, in the hope of uniting the country. U.S.A.I.D. officials eventually met with the Mohsenis and agreed to invest two hundred and twenty-eight thousand dollars in building the infrastructure for a radio network. … Mohseni needed money for transmitters and infrastructure; U.S.A.I.D. granted him a total of two and a half million dollars. …"

Last Modified 2022-03-19
Established 2009-11-02