Al Jazeera to open office in Riyadh 6, January 2011Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, Saudi Arabia.
Tags: Al Jazeera Saudi office, Al Jazeera Saudo, Qatar Saudi relations
1 comment so far
Reports indicate that Al Jazeera is to open an office in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
This is quite a change since the times when Al Jazeera was frequently railed against by the powers that be in the Kingdom for its ‘unfair’ reporting. This resulted in the removal of the Saudi Ambassador from Qatar from 2002 to 2008. He only returned on the understanding that Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Kingdom be ‘reigned in’ to some degree. Most media commentators agree that this has happened; that Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Kingdom has indeed since become much more sedate.
Al Jazeera to broadcast in India 4, January 2011Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, Qatar.
Tags: Al Jazeera broadcast in India, Al Jazeera India, Al-Jazeera
Al Jazeera English is to start broadcasting in India where it has just been granted a licence to operate. This potentially gives Al Jazeera the opportunity to broadcast to 115 million households in the world’s second most populous country, increasing Al Jazeera English’s global audience by nearly 50%.
Al Jazeera shut down in Kuwait 13, December 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, Kuwait.
Tags: Al Jazeera shut down, Al Jazeera shut down in Kuwait, Kuwait Al Jazeera, Kuwait protests
Al Jazeera are used to this. They have their offices shut down across the region from time to time. Typically, the Kuwaiti Emir will make a plea to the Qatari Emir, imploring him to get Al Jazeera to tone down their coverage. The Qatari Emir will insist that he has nothing to do with it. A few weeks or months later and after the dust has settled, the office will reopen.
There are two other possibilities, as I see it.
First, Kuwait might seek some kind of Saudi-eqsue agreement. Al Jazeera had a well deserved reputation for its harsh and somewhat salacious coverage of Saudi Arabia. This was at the time of generally poor and fractious relations between Qatar and the KSA. In agreeing to return a Saudi Ambassador to Doha for the first time in four years in 2008, Riyadh demanded that Al Jazeera’s coverage be toned down towards them, and so it was. There are rumours of a similar deal being done/worked out between Qatar and Egypt at the moment.
The problem for Kuwait is that they do not really have any leverage over Qatar. Their relations are OK generally; nothing really leaps to mind: there is no great reason for the Qatari government to acquiesce to a similar deal.
The second (related) possibility is that perhaps Kuwait might seek to form a quasi-coalition against Al Jazeera and Qatar. If they can get Egypt and say, Bahrain, on board – both with antagonistic relations to Qatar – then perhaps momentum will help them attract more countries to make a joint threat: ‘tone down Al Jazeera’ or we’ll all close our offices. It’s not as if all Arab countries will not be tempted to try to punish Al Jazeera.
It is also worth pointing out that this may not be well received in Kuwait. I would suspect that for the opposition in Kuwait, Al Jazeera is well-regarded and thought of as a useful megaphone for their views. ‘Once again’ they may well moan, ‘the Government is trying to stifle us’. None of this bodes well for the resumption of the relatively pliant and cooperative politics of recent months.
Egypt elections, Qatar & Abu Dhabi 29, November 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, Egypt, Qatar.
Tags: Al Jazeera Qatar, Al-Jazeera, Egypt Qatar relations, Egyptian elections, Mubarak Qatar
add a comment
An interesting snippet from the Angry Arab.
Husni Mubarak visited Doha, Qatar after years of a feud between the two rulers. (Of course, Mubarak stopped in Abu Dhabi first: the Emir of Qatar told me that Mubarak receives a blank check from the ruler of UAE in every visit–a blank check, literally). Mubarak wants to make up with Qatar during the “elections” because he worries about AlJazeera coverage. Unfortunately, his plan will work: Aljazeera’s coverage softened greatly after the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Arab rulers can make up while sharpening knives behind the curtain.
How has the Al Jazeera coverage of Egypt’s election been? Anyone..?
Al Jazeera shut out of Morocco 2, November 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, North Africa.
Tags: Al Jazeera banned, Al Jazeera coverage, Al Jazeera office closed, Al Jazeera office closed Morocco, Al-Jazeera
Morocco is the latest (of many) countries to ban Al Jazeera from operating within its borders. The Ministry of Communication withdrew Al Jazeera’s accreditation for not undertaking “serious and responsible journalism” and following “numerous failures in (following) the rules”.
The Communications Minister insisted that Al Jazeera systematically refused to be objective and sought to tarnish Morocco’s image.
These claims are strenuously denied by Al Jazeera.
The dispute centers around Al Jazeera’s coverage of Islamists in Morocco and their Western Saharan issues. Since the Casablanca bombing in 2003 killing over 40 people, AFP reports that over 2000 people have been arrested. The long-running saga of Western Sahara and the Polisario Front is a sore topic for the Kingdom and is a firm ‘red line’ over which reporting is all but banned.
Indeed, Al Jazeera was banned in 2000 and the Moroccan Ambassador briefly withdrawn from Doha over coverage of the issue. Relations were mended and in 2004 Qatar even brokered a hostage exchange between the Polisario Front and Morocco for the return of captured Moroccan troops. Releations worsened again in 2008 when Al Jazeera was banned from covering the Maghreb countries from Rabat and Al Jazeera’s Morocco bureau chief was convicted of “disseminating false information” regarding security forces clashes in Sidi Ifni.
Morocco’s banning of Al Jazeera is widely seen as a backward-step for the country which was, at one stage, slowly liberalizing its grip on social and political spaces. Now it joins its neighbors Algeria and Tunisia as countries with closed Al Jazeera offices; not necessarily a group of countries that Morocco wants to join.
Jordan behind Al Jazeera World Cup jamming 30, September 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera.
Tags: Al Jazeera jamming, Al Jazeera world cup problems, Jordan jamming al Jazeera
add a comment
During the recent World Cup, Al Jazeera’s coverage of the opening game and seven other important matches was severely affected. The picture was intermittently lost, garbled and commentary changed languages.
It has been revealed that the jamming that caused Al Jazeera to lose its signal emanated from Jordan. The Guardian suggests that this could be an act of retaliation after a deal to show the World Cup on Al Jazeera in Jordan fell through.
Initially, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were assumed to be the culprits given their antipathy towards Al Jazeera. However, The Guardian has obtained documents unequivocally showing that at least five instances of jamming came from a town north east of Amman, As-Salt (at coordinates 32.125N 35.766E if you want to be really precise).
Experts say the jamming was unlikely to have been done without the knowledge of the Jordanian authorities. “It was a very sophisticated case,” said one.
Al Jazeera won an exclusive pay-TV deal to show the World Cup matches to all Arab and North African countries including Iran. They charged up to £100 for the month’s subscription which fostered severe discontent.
On Qatari media 29, September 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, Opinion, Qatar.
It’s hardly a revelation that the newspapers in Qatar are in a poor state. Too often filled with Ministry press releases and utter fluff, they are used as an example of the double standard when it comes to Qatari media: mostly free if you discuss other countries; wholly emasculated on domestic matters.
An article delivered to my Google Reader about a certificate given to a Qatari employee at the Movenpick hotel prompted this post.
Ali Abbas Al Khanji, a Qatari national working as a Bill Collector with the Movenpick Hotel Doha since March 1 this year has scored a perfect attendance. As a Bill Collector his job is to deliver invoices to customers and receive payments from them on behalf of the hotel. He is also assigned to follow up on pending issues and notify the Credit Manager of any failed collections. On August 29, the hotel awarded a Certificate for Perfect Attendance to Al Khanji.
Is this news: a meaningless certificate given to an employee for not missing work in the – hold the phones – 6 MONTHS that he has worked there? Granted, the fact that he is Qatari and hasn’t skipped work is something of a story, but they don’t pursue this tack (can’t imagine why).
Non-stories like this feed the cliché about the duplicity of Qatar when it comes to the media. Some of the criticisms are true and just. There is very little domestic criticism for Qatari leaders to deal with. The newspapers in Qatar know their red lines and they do not cross them. Al Jazeera is frequently lambasted for its harsh, investigative and uncompromising reports on other Arab governments and their almost absolute silence on matters in Doha.
On this last matter I disagree.
Firstly, Al Jazeera’s audience is the Arab world and beyond. I’m not too sure how much they care about what goes on in Doha. Instead, the audience, I’d have thought, would prefer to hear about what is happening in Palestine, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. These are far larger issues than Qatar and are thus covered far more.
Secondly, what exactly happens in Doha that is interesting? I like the city but aside from traffic, there seems to be relatively little to report: not much happens. Some argue that Al Jazeera did not cover the recent mooted coup attempts but these were little more than summer rumors in Saudi and Jordanian newspapers. What other ‘dirt’ is there that Al Jazeera does not cover in Doha? They way that critics lampoon Al Jazeera one would think that there are countless fascinating stories that they simply pass up. I’m just not sure that that is the case.
Thirdly, there have been a few documentaries critical of Qatar over their treatment of domestic workers.
Despite this robust defence, I do realise that after the return of the Saudi Ambassador to Doha in 2008, Al Jazeera was muzzled vis-a-vis KSA to a large degree. Also, their tone towards Bahrain has manifestly calmed down over the last decade and more. Nevertheless, I am still a defender (of sorts) of Al Jazeera.
As for those that see Al Jazeera as some kind of terrorism propaganda HQ, all I’d say is that, as Kaplan put it, ‘Where you stand depends on where you sit’.
Al Jazeera up for International Emmy 15, August 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera.
Tags: Al Jazeera International Emmy, Al-Jazeera, Emmy awards
add a comment
Al Jazeera has been nominated for an International Emmy award for their coverage during the Gaza War.
Such an accolade may go towards bolstering its reputation. In the West it has a reputation, among some at least, for stoking Palestinian flames and an anti-Israeli stance. Those in the Arab world charge either the same or that it is simply an organ of Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Israelis to sue Al Jazeera 15, July 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Tags: Al Jazeera sued, Al-Jazeera, Israel sue Al Jazeera
add a comment
AP reports that a group of Israelis are suing Al Jazeera for $1.2 billion in New York for aiding Hezbollah. These 91 Israelis were wounded by Hezbollah’s rockets in the 2006 war. They suggest that Al Jazeera intentionally broke Israel’s military censorship rules and reported specific locations of rocket attacks in Israel allowing Hezbollah to more accurately aim their rockets.
Bahrain abolishes information ministry 10, July 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, Bahrain.
Tags: Abolishing ministry of information, Al-Jazeera, Bahrain Ministry of Information, Ministry of Information, Qatar ministry of information
Bahrain has announced that it is abolishing its information ministry. Ordinarily, this is a good sign of loosening of press censorship.
Qatar, for example, used the abolition of its information ministry in 1995 to signal a shift in the country’s view of news coverage. Along with the foundation of Al Jazeera, this act was widely seen as Qatar eschewing a staid, authoritarian mindset and entering the twenty-first century. True, Qatar’s domestic press is tame and decidedly uninvestigative, but at least Qatar has some mostly free media in the country.
Indeed, this relatively free media – Al Jazeera – recently ran a story on poverty in Bahrain which prompted their expulsion from Manama. This is hardly an auspicious omen coming in the weeks before it decides to get rid of its information ministry. So, unless there has been some paradigm shift in attitudes in Bahrain – which there hasn’t – this abolition, like in the UAE and to a lesser extent in Qatar, is more of a PR change than a real signal of changing attitudes to press censorship.