Trevor Noah helps launch Comedy Central in Middle East

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The Daily Show host Trevor Noah on Saturday took a break from his packed schedule to help launch Comedy Central in the Middle East, a move that network owner Viacom hopes will build its audience in a region that it sees as a major growth market and one where it can nurture local talent.

A few minutes before 7 p.m. local time, when the channel officially went on air, Noah took to the stage at the launch event at Dubai's prestigious Armani Hotel to count down to its start.

"This is really exciting. I've even brought my own remote," said Noah at 6:58 p.m., pointing to a five-foot high model of a remote control. "The reason I had this made was because I often lose the remote control in the couch," he quipped to rapturous applause. "And this is actually coming with the channel. Everyone that actually watches Comedy Central, you will be receiving this remote."

Trevor Noah throughout his career:

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Trevor Noah helps launch Comedy Central in Middle East
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: Trevor Noah hosts Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' premiere on September 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: Trevor Noah hosts Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' premiere with guest Kevin Hart on September 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR THE TELEVISION ACADEMY - Trevor Noah arrives at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
EXCLUSIVE - Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Trevor Noah and host Jon Stewart appear on 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 17: New Host of 'The Daily Show' Trevor Noah on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Thursday Sept. 17, 2015 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
Trevor Noah arrives at the 2015 Entertainment Weekly Pre-Emmy Party at Fig & Olive on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0293 -- Pictured: (l-r) Comedian Trevor Noah during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on July 17, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Trevor Noah poses for a portrait at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 15: Trevor Noah and Jamie Foxx attend Apollo in the Hamptons 2015 at The Creeks on August 15, 2015 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Apollo)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Trevor Noah and Jerry Seinfeld watch the game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies during Opening Day on April 13, 2015 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 15: Jimmy Fallon and Trevor Noah attend Apollo in the Hamptons 2015 at The Creeks on August 15, 2015 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Apollo)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: TV personality Trevor Noah (L) and actress Laura Prepon attend the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by FOX/FOX Collection/Getty Images)
Trevor Noah speaks onstage during the "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" panel at the Viacom Networks 2015 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
BURBANK, CA - JANUARY 06: Comedian Trevor Noah performs on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno at NBC Studios on January 6, 2012 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Episode 4177 -- Pictured: (l-r) Comedian Trevor Noah talks with Bryan Branly backstage on January 6, 2012 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4177 -- Pictured: Comedian Trevor Noah performs on January 6, 2012 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 11: Trevor Noah attends the Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyer at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City on September 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Gallo Images/Getty Images for MTV)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 11:Trevor Noah attends the Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyer at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City on September 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Justin Barlow/Gallo Images/Getty Images for MTV)
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Noah served up gags aplenty, with several focusing on life in Dubai. The South African comedian, for example, said that the city's taxi drivers had taught him how to conquer fear. "I feel like taxi drivers in Dubai are part of a car chase and still fulfill their job requirements," he quipped. "They're like, 'I'm going to die, but I must pick up somebody along the way.'"

Having previously launched MTV, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. in the Middle East on pay TV operator OSN in 2014, the Viacom International Media Networks unit was keen to bring Comedy Central to the region. After all, pay-TV penetration is growing rapidly in the Middle East, and young, tech-savvy audiences -; especially in oil-rich Gulf countries, such as the United Arab Emirates -; are leading demand.

Cue Comedy Central, which alongside The Daily Show will offer OSN subscribers the chance to watch such other hit shows as Inside Amy Schumer, Tosh.0 and a dedicated block of Spike content. Ensuring as wide an audience as possible, all of the content will be subtitled in Arabic.

Read More: Comedy Central to Launch in Middle East, North Africa

While Viacom wants to expand the reach for stars such as Noah, the company also is intent on creating a platform for local comedians through locally produced programming, which Comedy Central also has done in other countries, helping fledging local comedy scenes develop further and possibly get a shot at wider international exposure. Viacom has been following this global-local, or "glocal," strategy across its networks and markets.

"We're going to bring Comedy Central's biggest global hits and also invest in local production. We want the channel to be the leader of comedy in the Middle East," says Raffaele Annecchino, managing director for South Europe, Middle East and Africa at VIMN. "There's a huge comedy scene in the Middle East. For me, it's been a discovery, and we've already started scouting talent."

As one of the leading pay-TV operators in the region, OSN has a track record in producing local drama, entertainment and comedy content and one that it is proud of, says CEO David Butorac. To date, the majority of comedy in the region has developed on social media, and moving it more to television is something that OSN and Viacom want to help with.

Related: See Trevor Noah with previous 'The Daily Show' host, Jon Stewart:

26 PHOTOS
Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah
See Gallery
Trevor Noah helps launch Comedy Central in Middle East
EXCLUSIVE - Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
BURBANK, CA - JANUARY 06: Comedian Trevor Noah performs on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno at NBC Studios on January 6, 2012 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR THE TELEVISION ACADEMY - Trevor Noah arrives at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Episode 4177 -- Pictured: (l-r) Comedian Trevor Noah talks with Bryan Branly backstage on January 6, 2012 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 17: New Host of 'The Daily Show' Trevor Noah on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Thursday Sept. 17, 2015 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
Trevor Noah poses for a portrait at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4177 -- Pictured: Comedian Trevor Noah performs on January 6, 2012 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 11: Trevor Noah attends the Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyer at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City on September 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Gallo Images/Getty Images for MTV)
US President Barack Obama and host Jon Stewart speak during a break in the live taping of Comedy Central’s 'Daily Show with Jon Stewart' on October 18, 2012 in New York. This is the second appearence on the satirical show by President Obama. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 28: Steve Buscemi and Jon Stewart speak onstage at Comedy Central Night Of Too Many Stars at Beacon Theatre on February 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: (L-R) Jason Jones, Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee, and Aasif Mandvi attend The Night Of Too Many Start Live Telethon on March 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
Trevor Noah speaks onstage during the "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" panel at the Viacom Networks 2015 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 11:Trevor Noah attends the Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyer at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City on September 11, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Justin Barlow/Gallo Images/Getty Images for MTV)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 28: Chris Rock (L) and Jon Stewart perform on stage at Comedy Central Night Of Too Many Stars at Beacon Theatre on February 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 28: Jon Stewart and Paul Rudd speak onstage at Comedy Central Night Of Too Many Stars at Beacon Theatre on February 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
Trevor Noah arrives at the 2015 Entertainment Weekly Pre-Emmy Party at Fig & Olive on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 15: Jimmy Fallon and Trevor Noah attend Apollo in the Hamptons 2015 at The Creeks on August 15, 2015 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Apollo)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 28: John Oliver (L) and Jon Stewart perform on stage at Comedy Central Night Of Too Many Stars at Beacon Theatre on February 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 28: Steve Carell (L) Jon Stewart perform on stage at Comedy Central Night Of Too Many Stars at Beacon Theatre on February 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Jon Stewart attends 'Rosewater' New York Premiere at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on November 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 05: Jon Stewart performs onstage at The New York Comedy Festival and The Bob Woodruff Foundation present the 8th Annual Stand Up For Heroes Event at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for New York Comedy Festival)
AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 28: Host Jon Stewart at 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' covers the Midterm elections in Austin with 'Democalypse 2014: South By South Mess' at ZACH Theatre on October 28, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 28: Congressman Joaquin Castro and host Jon Stewart at 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' covers the Midterm elections in Austin with 'Democalypse 2014: South By South Mess' at ZACH Theatre on October 28, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
Lee Roth/STAR MAX/IPx 9/19/04 Jon Stewart at the "56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards". (Los Angeles, CA)
AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 28: Host Jon Stewart at 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' covers the Midterm elections in Austin with 'Democalypse 2014: South By South Mess' at ZACH Theatre on October 28, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
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"There's a lot of great talent on social media ...; and the transition from social media to mainstream broadcasting is an easy one, so we will continue to invest heavily across all genres to ensure that we can provide a local service for our local audience," says Butorac.

There is, of course, the issue of ensuring that the channel's content conforms to the social and cultural norms of a region, which is regarded as more conservative than most. For the Middle East, Viacom and OSN are creating a bespoke channel, which will be leaving out any Comedy Central shows that are thought too risque for the region.

While bleeping out swear words and other edits is an option, it isn't the preferred one, say executives. For Noah, understanding the target audience is key to producing successful global shows.

"I don't think of [my] show as being an extremely controversial one. There is always a line, but the perception of the line changes from place to place," Noah tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It's the same in the U.S. Profanity is not seen as something that can be commonly thrown about. There are seldom times where it isn't bleeped out ...; which, according to European standards for the most part, is deemed as primitive."

Read More: Viacom Expands Middle East Presence With Three Channel Launches

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