Al Arabiya

For the language, see Arabic language. For the script, see Arabic alphabet.
Al Arabiya
Launched 3 March 2003 (2003-03-03)
Owned by MBC Group
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
576i (SDTV)
Country Arab countries
Language Arabic (TV channel and the website);
English, Persian and Urdu (the website only)
Broadcast area The main version in Literary Arabic (TV/website) for the Middle East and North Africa;
the English version (website) is for the international community;
the Persian version (website) is for the west of the Middle East and the northern most of South Asia;
the Urdu (website) is for the northern most of South Asia
Headquarters Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Sister channel(s) MBC 1
MBC Drama
MBC Action
MBC Persia
MBC Bollywood
Website (Arabic) (English) (Persian) (Urdu)
Nilesat 102 11727 V - 27500 - 5/6[1]
Arabsat BADR-4 11919 H - 27500 - 3/4[2]
Hot Bird 9 11747 H - 27500 - 3/4[3]
Asiasat 5 3760 H - 27500 - 3/4[4]
SKY Italia Channel 562
Sky (UK & Ireland) Channel 855
OSN (Middle East
& North Africa)
Channel 453 (HD)
(Middle East & North Africa)
Channel 203
France Numericable Channel 656 (SD)
Switzerland Naxoo Channel 280
Netherlands Ziggo Channel 780
Fukushima TV Channel 50
France Freebox TV Channel 674 (SD)
Pakistan PTCL Smart TV Channel 107

Al Arabiya (Arabic: العربية, transliterated: al-ʿArabiyyah or al-ʻArabīyah; meaning "The Arabic One" or "The Arab One"[n 1]) is a Saudi-owned pan-Arab[5] television news channel broadcast in Modern Standard Arabic.

History and profile

Launched on 3 March 2003,[6][7] the channel is based in Dubai Media City, United Arab Emirates, and is owned by Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC).

The current general manager of Al Arabiya is Adel Al Toraifi, who took over that post from Abdulrahman Al Rashed on November 22 2014.[8]

A free-to-air channel, Al Arabiya broadcasts standard newscasts as well as talk shows and documentaries. These programs cover current affairs, business and financial markets, and sports. It is rated among the top pan-Arab stations by Middle East audiences.[9] The channel has been criticized for having a "pro-Saudi agenda",[10] and it was once banned in Iraq by the US-installed Governing Council for "incitement to murder" after broadcasting audio tapes of Saddam Hussein.[9]

On 26 January 2009, American president Barack Obama gave his first formal interview as president to the television channel.[11]

Content and Al Jazeera rivalry

Some believe that Al Arabiya was created to be a direct competitor of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera.[9] As a response to Al Jazeera's criticism of the Saudi royal family throughout the 1990s, relatives of the Saudi royal family established Al Arabiya in Dubai in 2002.[12][13][14] According to a 2008 New York Times profile of Al Arabiya director Abdul Rahman Al Rashed, the channel works "to cure Arab television of its penchant for radical politics and violence", with Al Jazeera as its main target. Al Arabiya is said to be the second most frequently watched channel after Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia.[15]

Al Arabiya broadcast the email messages of Syrian president Bashar Assad in 2012 that were leaked by opposition hackers.[16] The channel's English language website also obtained emails which revealed[17] that PR agency BLJ were behind the infamous positive profile of the Syrian first lady, Asma Assad, in Vogue magazine while her husband's regime was responsible for the crushing of peaceful demonstrations in 2011.[18]


Al Arabiya reporter in Jerusalem

Special Mission is Al Arabiya's longest-running investigative journalism/current affairs television program. It broadcasts on the Al Arabiya Pan Arab Channel based in Dubai. Premiered on 19 October 2003 it is still running. The Special Mission Team Founding the program did much to set the ongoing tone of the program.

Based on the investigative Panorama concept, the program addresses a single issue in depth each week, showing either a locally produced program or a relevant documentary stories from many areas in the world. The program has won many awards for investigative journalism, and broken many high-profile stories. A notable early example of this was the show's exposé on the appalling living conditions endured by many children living in rural Africa, East Asia etc...

Special Mission is presented in a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, often involving crime, political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing. Special Mission is an investigative program that aims to uncover the truth about puzzling topics which are unclear to the public, by taking them step by step into the investigative process, and build the momentum accordingly. Issues like politics, economy, and even religion are addressed. The atmosphere of secrecy and caution builds the intensity of the program. Presented by Correspondents and Reporters.

Edaat (Arabic: إضاءات, meaning "Spotlights"), hosted by Turki Al-Dakhil, airs every Thursday at 2:00 PM (Saudi Arabia time) and lasts one hour.[19] The show consists of one-on-one interviews with influential regional figures, such as journalists, writers, activists, politicians, etc. (the programme is currently off air)

Rawafed (Arabic: روافد, meaning "Affluents"), directed and hosted by Ahmad Ali El Zein, and broadcast once a week (Wedenesday at 5:30 PM).[20] Rawafed is a series of documentaries/interviews devoted to the world of arts and culture. Guests have included writers Tahar Ben Jelloun, Gamal El-Ghitani, poets Adunis, Ahmed Fouad Negm, Joumana Haddad, musicians, Marcel Khalifa, Naseer Shamma. Many key principle artists, writers and politicians in the Arab world have also appeared on the show.

Investment and ownership

According to unconfirmed reports, the original investment in Al Arabiya was $300 million by the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), Lebanon's Hariri Group, and other investors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Persian Gulf states.[9] Through MBC, Abdulaziz bin Fahd and his maternal uncle Waleed bin Ibrahim al Ibrahim own and have control over Al Arabiya.[15]

In March 2012, the channel launched a new channel, Al-Hadath which focuses exclusively on prolonged extensive coverage of political news.[21]

Track record and controversies

Al Arabiya was started in response to Qatar's pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera, but has languished behind in audience popularity surveys, according to reports by University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami.[22][23] Al Arabiya has been criticized for being an arm of Saudi foreign policy, or what the United States would term public diplomacy, as it is seen as being part of "a concerted Saudi attempt to dominate the world of cable and satellite television media in the Arab world and steal the thunder of Egypt".[24][25]

Over the past couple of years several journalists and editors have been dismissed because of their coverage; In 2011, Al Arabiya fired Hafez Al Mirazi for criticizing the channel's coverage of the Egyptian uprising[26] while in 2009 Courtney C. Radsch claimed to have lost her job the day after publishing an article about safety problems on the national Emirates airline.[27]

Al Arabiya had been banned from reporting from Iraq by the country's interim government in November 2004 after it broadcast an audio tape on November 16 purportedly made by the deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.[9] The Iraqi government had also banned the channel on 7 September 2006 for one month for what it called "imprecise coverage". Al Arabiya journalists and staff have come under constant pressure from Iraqi officials to report stories as dictated to and in 2014, PM Nouri Maliki threatened again to ban Al Arabiya in Iraq, shut down its offices and websites. For his part, Al Arabiya's General Manager at the time Abdulrahman al-Rashed vowed[28] in a statement that the news channel and its sister channel al-Hadath will continue reporting the story in Iraq despite Maliki's threats as well as other threats from the likes of ISIS.

"Our two channels, Al Arabiya and Al Hadath have caused much embarrassment to Nouri al-Maliki after they aired a large number of videos and eyewitness accounts following the rapid collapse of his forces in Mosul and Tikrit over the past few days, prompting wide criticism against his government," said al-Rashed in his statement.[28] On 14 February 2005, Al Arabiya was the first news satellite channel to air news of the assassination of Rafik Hariri,[29] one of its early investors. On 9 October 2008, the Al Arabiya website was hacked.[30]

On 2 September 2008, Iran expelled Al Arabiya's Tehran bureau chief Hassan Fahs, the third Al Arabiya correspondent expelled from Iran since the network opened an Iran office.[31] On 14 June 2009, the Iranian government ordered the Al Arabiya office in Tehran to be closed for a week for "unfair reporting" of the Iranian presidential election. Seven days later, amid the 2009 Iranian election protests, the network's office was "closed indefinitely" by the government.[32]

In a column published on Al Arabiya's English website, Hassan Fahs set the record straight in his own words as to why he has left Iran, revealing that he has received direct threats of arrest and killing from senior Iranian officials as well as alarming attempts to censor and control the channel's coverage.[33]

Despite some making accusations that Al Arabiya is tied to the Saudi government, some of the channel's harshest critics are in Saudi Arabia, mostly attacking the channel's critical coverage of religious hardliners and other social issues in the Kingdom. Al Arabiya is reported to be referred to as "Al Abriya" (proper transliteration: al-ʻibrīyah) by Saudi religious conservatives, which means "the Hebrew [one]" in Arabic.[15]

Slain reporters

In September 2003, Al Arabiya reporter Mazen al-Tumeizi was killed on camera in Iraq when a U.S. helicopter fired on a crowd in Haifa Street in Baghdad.[34]

In February 2006, three Al Arabiya reporters were abducted and murdered while covering the aftermath of the bombing of a mosque in Samarra, Iraq. Among them was correspondent Atwar Bahjat, an Iraqi national. In 2012, Al Arabiya's Asia correspondent Bakir Atyani was abducted in the Philippines by an armed militia. He was released[35] after 18 months[36]

Barack Obama appearance

On 26 January 2009, President of the United States Barack Obama gave his first formal interview as president to Al Arabiya,[37] delivering the message to the Muslim world that "Americans are not your enemy", while also reiterating that "Israel is a strong ally of the United States" and that they "will not stop being a strong ally of the United States".[11] The White House contacted Al Arabiya's Washington Bureau chief, Hisham Melhem, directly just hours before the interview and asked him not to announce it until an official announcement was made by the administration.[37]


The Al Arabiya internet news service ( was launched in 2004 initially in Arabic, and was joined by an English-language service in 2007, and Persian and Urdu services in 2008. The channel also operates a business website that covers financial news and market data from the Middle East in Arabic ( The Al Arabiya News Channel is available live online on JumpTV and Livestation. The English website of Al Arabiya was relaunched in 2013 and now features automated subtitles of the news and programs that appear on the channel.[38]

The Al Arabiya website was plagued with numerous technical difficulties during the Egyptian protests at the end of January 2011. The site very often went offline with error messages as such as the following: "The website is down due to the heavy traffic to follow up with the Egyptian crisis and it will be back within three hours (Time of message: 11GMT)".


  3. "Hot Bird 13B / Hot Bird 13C / Hot Bird 13D (13°E) - All transmissions - frequencies - KingOfSat".
  5. "Four dead in bomb attack on al-Arabiya TV in Baghdad". BBC News. 26 July 2010.
  6. "About Al Arabiya TV". Al Arabiya. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  7. Erik C. Nisbet; Teresa A. Myers (2011). "Anti-American Sentiment as a Media Effect? Arab Media, Political Identity, and Public Opinion in the Middle East" (PDF). Communication Research. doi:10.1177/0093650211405648. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  8. "Dr. Adel Altoraifi appointed new GM at Al Arabiya News Channel". Al Arabiya. 22 November 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 Peter Feuilherade (25 November 2003). "Profile: Al-Arabiya TV". BBC Monitoring. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  10. Pop culture Arab world!: media, arts, and lifestyle - p. 55
  11. 1 2 "Obama tells Al Arabiya peace talks should resume". Al Arabiya 27 January 2009.
  12. Kraidy, Marwan.
  13. (2006). "Hypermedia and governance in Saudi Arabia." First Monday. Special Issue No. 7.. p. 10.
  14. Departmental Papers (ASC). University of Pennsylvania. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  15. 1 2 3 "Ideological And Ownership Trends In The Saudi Media". Cablegate. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  16. Al Abdeh, Malik (4 October 2012). "The Media War in Syria". The Majalla. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  17. "Syria Leaks: Al Arabiya English Reports On Assad's PR Firm". The Huffington Post.
  18. "Syria Leaks: Al Arabiya English Reports On Assad's PR Firm". The Huffington Post. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  19. "Al Arabiya Programs". 15 September 2009. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  20. "Rawafed Website".
  21. "Al Arabiya launches Al Hadath channel". Al Arabiya. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  22. "TBS 13". TBS Journal. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  23. "Radio" (PDF). Stanley Foundation. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  24. Andrew Hammond (October 2006). "Saudi Arabia's Media Empire: keeping the masses at home". International Communication Gazette.
  25. Zayani, M.; Ayish, M. "Arab Satellite Television and Crisis Reporting" (3). doi:10.1080/17512780701768485.
  26. Hassan Masiky. "Saudi News Channel Sacks a Broadcaster for his Commentary on Egyptian Revolution". Morocco Board. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  27. Committee to Protect Journalists (29 October 2009). "Laid off for Implicating Emirates".
  28. 1 2
  29. "Major industry award and dynamic programming mark Al Arabiya's third anniversary". 4 March 2006.
  30. "Arabiya TV Website Hacked". Kuwait Times. 11 October 2008.
  31. "IRAN: Al-Arabiya reporter banned from working". Menassat. 3 September 2008.
  32. "Al Arabiya's Tehran bureau closed indefinitely". Al Arabiya. 21 June 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
  33. Fahs, Hassan (18 September 2012). "Al Arabiya's Tehran correspondent: this is why I was kicked out of Iran". Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  34. "U.S. army defends helicopter attack in Baghdad". Reuters. 15 September 2004.
  36. Flanagan, Ben (11 December 2013). "Baker Atyani describes 'mental torture' of kidnap". Al Arabiya English. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  37. 1 2 "Al Arabiya anchor: how we got Obama exclusive". Al Arabiya. 28 January 2009.
  38. "Al Arabiya News Global Discussion: Princess Rym of Jordan calls on Arab world to fight discrimination". Al Arabiya. 1 December 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2015.

Further reading

External links

Media related to Al Arabiya TV News Channel at Wikimedia Commons

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