Al Arabiya launched on March, 2003 is an Arabic News Service headquartered in Dubai Media City, UAE and is owned by MBC Group. The free to air service airs news and programming in Modern Standard Arabic and competed with Al Jazeera Arabic also directed to pan-Arab viewership. Adel Al Toraifi is the general manager of the Arabic news service since Nov 2014. Toraifi succeeded Abdulrahman Al Rashed who came into office in 2004 and served almost a decade.
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Al Arabiya first signed on air on March 3, 2003 from Dubai Media City, UAE under the ownership of Middle East Broadcasting Center. The parent company MBC is owned by a group of investors from KSA, Kuwait and other Gulf states. However, the direct control over the channel comes from Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd and his maternal uncle Waleed bin Ibrahim al Ibrahim. It broadcasts news-bulletins on hourly basis with a mix of current affairs talk, documentaries, business and stock updates. The top pan-Arab channel in Middle East runs a multi-language website available in English, Persian, Arabic and Urdu. Almost 20% of the entire visitor on the site comes from KSA as of March 2018 stats. American President Barack Obama on Jan 26, 2009 gave his maiden interview to Al Arabiya on Jan 26, 2009. AlHadath الحدث is the news sister of the station.
Rivalry with Al Jazeera
To counter Al Jazeera’s criticism of Saudi Royal family during 90s, Saudi royal family in 2002 established Al Arabiya. Al Arabiya is the second most watched Arabic in Kingdom Saudi Arabia after Al Jazeera Arabic. It aired the email messages of Bahsar Assad in 2012 supplied by hackers from Syrian opposition. Emails also revealed the role of PR agency BLJ in building the positive profile of Syrian lady Asma Assad during the same time.
Inside Iran: The series brings investigative stories on political, social and economic faced by Islamic Republic and its people.
Eda’at: The hour-long program hosted by Turki Al-Dakhil features one-on-one interviews with influence makers in Middle East including politicians, journalists, writers and other reginal big guns.
From Iraq: Mayssoun Noueihed presents socio-political and ground realities from inside Iraq.
Business Profiles: The monthly program gives audiences an in-depth account of activities of regional business leaders. The program is on air since June 2013 and is hosted by Fatima Zahra Daoui.
Point of Order: Live interviews on socio-political topics are conducted by Hasan Muawad.
Studio Beirut: Giselle Khoury hosts the prominent guests from the Arab world; the discussion program airs on Sundays.
Special Mission: Special Mission launched on Oct 19, 2003 is channel’s longest-running investigative journalism and current affairs program.
The Big Screen: The Big Screen presented by Nadine Kirresh showcases film industry, film festivals, celebrity interviews and more from the world of entertainment.
Al Arabiya is blamed for begin a Saudi foreign policy tool that paves the way for the public diplomacy of the Kingdom. It was the first satellite news service to the break Rafik Hariri’s assassination on Feb 14, 2005, one of the early investors. The website of Al Arabiya got hacked on Oct 9, 2008. The sacking of Courtney C. Radsch in 2009 and the dismissal of 50 staffers including journalists in 2016 were among the controversial events.
The office of Al Arabiya was forced to close by Iranian authorities in June 2009 for false reporting during 2009 Iranian President Elections. Prior to that Iran also expelled channel’s Tehran bureau chief Hassan Fahs on Sep 2, 2008; Fahs was third correspondent at Al Arabiya that was expelled since the network established its facilities in Islamic Republic.
Broadcasting the footage of Bahraini political prisoner Hassan Mushaima and censure placed by Ofcom was also a bad addition in the controversial track record of the service. According to Ofcom, it violated the rights and privacy of the torture survivor. The interview with Jean-Marie Le Pen and inviting Bashar al-Assad for interview were also not well received.
Al Arabiya was put under ban form Iraqi interim government in Nov 2004 for broadcasting the audio tape left by President Saddam Hussein. Iraq once again censored the channel on Sep 7, 2006 for a month for unfair coverage. Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Maliki in 2014 threatened to impose ban the service its offices and website in the country. Iraq a country with Shias in majority considers the channel as Anti-Shia and Pro-Saudi.
Syrian politicians following the assassination of Rafik Hariri condemned the channel labelling its as al-Yahudiyya or The Jewish and al-Ibriyya or The Hebrew. The channel has been widely perceived as comparatively softer on Israel and Jews since 2003 and is often accused of promoting Pro-Israel and Pro-US bias in the Arab world.
Al Arabiya’s official web-portal was launched in 2004 in Arabic but English, Persian and Urdu versions joined the webpages in 2007 and 2008. Alaswaq.net is the sister website for business and financial news. A reformatted English website was relaunched in 2013.
Sister Stations: MBC 1, MBC 2, MBC 3, MBC 4 and MBC Drama are among 10 sisters of the service.
Middle East, North Africa, Gulf and World news, latest news/headlines, videos, features, lifestyle programming, sports updates, business news, photo galleries and other stuff can be watched online.
English Website: www.english.alarabiya.net
Arabic Website: www.alarabiya.net/ar
Retracting Arab Footsteps (Ala Khota al-Arab)
Point of Order
The Big Screen
Terror in KSA
Al Arabiya Global Discussions
Ahamd Ali El Zein
Fatima Zahra Daoui