Al-Arab News Channel

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Al-Arab News Channel
Launched1 February 2015
Closed1 February 2015
Owned byal-Waleed bin Talal
CountrySaudi Arabia
Broadcast areaArab World
HeadquartersManama, Bahrain
Sister channel(s)Arab Today TV
Bahrain News Channel
Qatar News Television

Al-Arab (Arabic: العرب‎)[1] was an Arabic-language news channel which vowed to practice objective journalism.[2][3] It was launched on 1 February 2015[1] and almost immediately shut down.[2][3][4] The channel was owned by Saudi prince and entrepreneur Al-Waleed bin Talal, and was based in Manama, Bahrain.


In July 2010, Prince Al-Waleed, owner of a stake in News Corporation, planned to collaborate with News Corp to launch a 24-hour Arabic-language news channel.[5] After a year of deliberation, Al-Waleed announced on 13 September 2011 the launch of Alarab as a personal private venture.[6] He said the channel's editorial stance would be "inspired by the recent political events that have transformed the region, with particular attention to be paid to freedom of speech."[7] The channel was supposedly entirely privately funded, with Al-Waleed insisting that it would not receive instructions from the Saudi government.[7] At the time of the launch, no mention was made of News Corp's involvement.[8]

In December 2011, Manama, Bahrain, was chosen as the network's headquarters.[9] Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Beirut were also among the cities considered to host the network.[10] Prince Al-Waleed retained close ties with the Bahraini royal family while his Kingdom Holding Company maintains a presence in the country through indirect investments in the banking sector.[11]

Al-Arab was launched on 1 February 2015.[1]

Al-Arab's regional competitors were Qatari-owned Al Jazeera and Saudi-government-owned Al Arabiya, along with BSkyB's Sky News Arabia.[7] In a January 2012 interview, Al-Waleed described Al Jazeera as the "masses channel" while implying that Al Arabiya is the "government channel" among the two main news channels in the Middle East. He stated his goal for Al-Arab to "takes the centre’s point of view" between the two networks.[12]

Ownership and management[edit]

Al-Arab was privately owned by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, independent from Kingdom Holding Company and Rotana Group, two corporations controlled by the prince.[13] It was headquartered in Manama's Media City complex.[9] The channel was based outside Saudi Arabia as the country does not allow independent news channels to operate within its borders.[7]

The channel's director was Jamal Khashoggi, former editor of Al Watan, a newspaper in Saudi Arabia.[7] Khashoggi was removed as editor in 2010 after Al Watan published an article criticizing Salafism, the fundamentalist Islamic movement that is Saudi Arabia's official state religion.[14]

The channel partners with US financial news channel Bloomberg Television, which would have provided five hours of daily programming, including financial bulletins, analysis, reports on regional business leaders, and global financial news.[7] The partnership would have brought al-Arab into direct competition with Arabic-language financial news channel CNBC Arabiya.[15]

Censorship and shutdown[edit]

On 1 February 2015, al-Arab's first day of programming included an interview with Bahraini Shi'a politician and former member of the Council of Representatives, Khalil al-Marzooq, who discussed the cancelling of 72 Bahrainis' citizenship. Broadcasting was suspended after the interview.[16][17] Al-Arab stated that the suspension was for "technical and administrative reasons", while the newspaper Akhbar al-Khaleej attributed the suspension to al-Arab "not adhering to the norms prevalent in Gulf countries".[1]

The shutdown of Al Arab TV was a result of the media censorship vigorously enforced by the ruling regime, where any criticism of the absolute monarchy or the mention of Shia majority oppression isn’t tolerated.


  1. ^ a b c d "Saudi prince's Al-Arab news channel goes off air hours after launching". The Guardian. 2015-02-02. Archived from the original on 2015-02-03. Retrieved 2015-02-03.
  2. ^ a b Hannon, Elliot (February 2, 2015). "New Middle East News Network Launches Vowing Free Speech, Gets Shut Down After One Day". Slate.
  3. ^ a b Agencies (2015-02-09). "Bahrain suspends newly launched Alarab news channel: Gulf kingdom orders closure of pan-Arab news channel launched last week after it aired interview with government critic". Al Jazeera English.
  4. ^ "Alwaleed's new Arab TV channel goes dark". Financial Times. February 2, 2015.
  5. ^ Weprin, Alex (2010-07-09). "News Corp., Saudi Prince Launching Arabic-Language News Channel". TV Newser. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  6. ^ Ghazanfar Ali Khan (2011-09-13). "Alarab to focus on Arab shift". Arab News. Archived from the original on 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Haschke, Pamela (2011-11-10). "Al Waleed bin Talal Unveils New Channel Alarab". INA Global. Archived from the original on 2012-02-10. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  8. ^ Weprin, Alex (2011-09-13). "Prince Al-Waleed Unveils 'Alarab' Cable News Channel with Bloomberg as Partner, What About News Corp.?". TV Newser. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  9. ^ a b Hammond, Andrew (2011-12-28). "Bahrain to host Saudi prince's Rotana, news channel". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
  10. ^ Shabinakhatri (2011-09-13). "KSA prince eyes Doha as HQ for new international news channel". Doha News. Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  11. ^ "Kingdom Holding Company : Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad AlKhalifa & Prince Alwaleed Attend Inauguration of "Bahrain the Capital of Arab Culture 2012" Under the Patronage of King of Bahrain" (Press release). Kingdom Holding Company. 2012-02-04. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  12. ^ "CNN talks exclusively to HH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Abdulaziz Al Saud". CNN. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2012-01-24.
  13. ^ Flanagan, Ben (2011-09-14). "Prince Al Waleed and Bloomberg plan Arab news channel". The National. Archived from the original on 2011-11-01. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  14. ^ "Head of Saudi's most daring newspaper resigns". Al Arabiya. 2010-05-16. Archived from the original on 2017-10-19. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  15. ^ Ferris-Lay, Claire (2011-09-21). "Alwaleed's new box of tricks". Arabian Business. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  16. ^ Hubbard, Ben (February 2, 2015). "Channel in Bahrain Goes Silent After Giving Opposition Airtime". New York Times.
  17. ^ "TV channel runs foul of Bahraini authorities". Manama: The National / Associated Press. February 2, 2015.

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