Al Arabiya SuccessStory
Starting a news channel out of the conflict ridden territory is always been a challenge. The Qatar based Al Jazeera faced that challenge and came out on top. Until Al Arabiya was launched, Al Jazeera was considered the only source of genuine, honest news out of Middle East. However, Al Jazeera had courted controversy by airing videos from terrorist groups and conducting open forums for discussion.
Al Arabiya then started to give the region another voice.
It started out with an investment of about $300 million in 30th March 2003 by Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC); the brand was created in response to Al Jazeera’s criticism of the Saudi royal family. A free-to-air channel, it’s headquartered in Dubai Media City in the UAE.
The news is delivered in Arabic on the TV, while the websites have information in Arabic, English, Persian and Urdu. The aim of this channel has always been to provide honest news to the people of the region. They wanted to offer something that wasn’t influenced by the West.
With this in mind, the channel promised to not cause problems for the Arab countries or create sensationalism, but just stick to the truth.
Al Jazeera had become less popular after Arab Spring, a revolutionary protest in the region, due to its apparent bias towards Muslim Brotherhood. Al Arabiya benefited from this and became the second most popular news channel in the Middle Eastern region. The channel has the regular household viewership for about 5 million.
Al Arabiya has a number of programs that are popular. Its Special Mission program is its longest running and most successful to date. Since it began in October 19th, 2003, it has won several accolades for investigative journalism. The program focuses on many issues in the region and the world and digs deeply to reveal the truth, presenting it in a manner that the audience would understand.
The show Rawafed, on the other hand, focuses on arts and culture, showcasing the regions rich heritage and highlighting the multitude of great talents from the Middle East. The famous and well-established novelist Ahmed Ali El Zein hosts the programme, hoping to bring back the old Middle Eastern love for art, the written word and poetry.
Al Arabiya hasn’t escaped controversy and some believe it was created for the sole purpose of promoting the Saudi agenda. It was banned in Iraq on November 2004 and September 7, 2006 for their alleged imprecise coverage of the country.
Al Arabiya has faced criticism on home ground for portraying the religious conservatives and social problems in a stark, honest manner. Moreover, it lost four reporters in September 2003 and February 2006 while reporting. One correspondent was apprehended in 2012 in Philippines but was released after 18 months, highlighting dangers of reporting in conflicted territory for a channel known for its stark portrayal of problems.
Despite all these troubles, Al Arabiya remains a well-watched and popular news channel from the Middle East.