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Al Arabiya ( ) is an Arabic-language television news station. Launched on March 3, 2003, the station is based in Dubai Media Citymarker, United Arab Emiratesmarker, and is partly owned by the Saudimarker broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC).

A free-to-air channel, Al Arabiya carries news, current affairs, business and financial markets, sports, talk shows, and documentaries. It is rated among the top pan-Arab stations by Middle East audiences. Al Arabiya says it tries to use neutral, non-supportive language when covering Islamic militant groups.

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

Content and Al Jazeera rivalry

Al Arabiya was created to be a direct competitor of the Qatarmarker-based Al Jazeera. According to a 2008 New York Times profile of Al Arabiya director Abdul Rahman al-Rashed, the station was founded "to cure Arab television of its penchant for radical politics and violence," with Al Jazeera as its main target. Mr. Rashed alleged that Arab television's coverage of militant groups was overly friendly. "You have to remember, it was television that made bin Laden into a celebrity," Rashed said. "That made Al Qaeda, and its recruiting, and this is how violence spread throughout the region." Mr. Rashed said Al Arabiya works to describe incidents of Islamist violence with neutral, non-supportive language. He also said the station had pushed Al Jazeera to be more critical of the insurgency in Iraq. "Now Jazeera is a very soft, reasonable station when it comes to the Iraqis," he said. Al Arabiya has, in turn, drawn accusations of pro-American or pro-Saudi bias, in part due to MBC's Saudi ownership.

Investment and ownership

The original investment in Al Arabiya was $300 million by the Middle East Broadcasting Center, Lebanonmarker's Hariri Group, and other investors from Saudi Arabiamarker, Kuwaitmarker, and the Gulf states.

Track record and controversies

Al Arabiya had been banned from reporting from Iraqmarker by the country's interim government in November 2003 after it broadcast an audio tape on November 16 purportedly made by the deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi government had also banned the channel on September 7, 2006 for one month for what it called "imprecise coverage".

On February 14, 2005, Al Arabiya was the first news satellite channel to air news of the assassination of Rafik Hariri, who was one of its early investors.

On January 22, 2007, there was a large explosion at Al Arabiya's offices in Gaza City, just days after it was criticised by Hamas for "misquoting" one of the movement's leaders. The offices were closed at the time and no injuries were reported. Hamas condemned the bombing.

On October 9, 2008, the Al Arabiya website ( was hacked.

On September 2, 2008, Iranmarker expelled Al Arabiya's Tehran bureau chief Hassan Fahs. He was the third Al Arabiya correspondent expelled from Iran since the network opened an office there. On June 14, 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.

Slain reporters

In September 2004 Al Arabiya reporter Mazen al-Tumeizi was killed on camera in Iraq when a US helicopter fired on a crowd in Haifa Street, Baghdad.

In February 2006, three Al Arabiya reporters were abducted and murdered while covering the aftermath of the bombing of a mosque in Samarramarker, Iraq. Among them was correspondent Atwar Bahjat, an Iraqi national whose calm, non-sectarian coverage of the war had made her a popular figure in the region.

Barack Obama appearance

On January 26, 2009 President of the United States Barack Obama gave his first formal interview as president to Al Arabiya, 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". 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.


The Al Arabiya website ( was launched in February 2004 initially in Arabic. The website launched an English-language service in August 2007, and Persian and Urdu services in March 2008. The station 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. The live feed on the station's website does not work in the US. Livestation, for unknown reasons, no longer broadcasts the network.



  1. About Al Arabiya TV. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  2. Peter Feuilherade (2003-11-25). " Profile: Al-Arabiya TV". BBC Monitoring. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  3. Robert F. Worth (2008-01-04). " A voice of moderation helps transform Arab media". International Herald Tribune.
  4. " Obama tells Al Arabiya peace talks should resume". 2009-01-27.
  5. " Major industry award and dynamic programming mark Al Arabiya's third anniversary". AME Info. 2006-03-04.
  6. " Explosion at television offices in Gaza City". Euronews. 2007-01-23.
  7. " Arabiya TV Website Hacked". Kuwait Times. 2008-10-11.
  8. " IRAN: Al-Arabiya reporter banned from working". Menassat. 2008-09-03.
  9. " Al Arabiya's Tehran bureau closed indefinitely". 2009-06-21. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  10. " U.S. army defends helicopter attack in Baghdad". Reuters. 2004-09-15.
  11. " Shock Over Iraqi Reporter's Death". BBC News Online. 2006-02-23.
  12. " Al Arabiya anchor: how we got Obama exclusive". 2009-01-28.

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