Friday, May 17, 2013

Qatar and the News: On Al Jazeera

Widely considered the CNN of the Middle East, Al Jazeera is an internationally renown news outlet that broadcasts 24/7 - all day, every day.  The station has a reputation for telling-it-like-it-is in the Middle East while other Arab news sources might be less forthcoming.  It is controversial and sometimes scorned for delivering sensitive information about its Arab neighbors and broadcasting adversarial and/or graphic videos.  Like many great reporting agencies, it has been boycotted and banned at the same time it's celebrated, honored and praised.  It has offices all over the world, including the US.
But its home is in Doha.
Totally unrelated photo of Kimber standing inside Doha's fabulous Sheraton Hotel, 12-15-2012.
I do not have a photo of Al Jazeera's home office which occupies nearly a city block across the street from a set of shops I frequent.
I have not been able to locate a photo online.
It's possible photos are not allowed.
If photos are not allowed you won't ever see one here.
But hey, isn't this an awesome pic of Kimber inside the Sheraton?
Founded by Qatar's Emir Khalifa bin Hamad al Thani, Al Jazeera's first broadcast aired November 1, 1996, one year post coup.  The outlet is a cornerstone of the new Qatar - the one that would become the wealthiest country in the world (per capita), win the 2022 World Cup and effectively rise from sand to skyscrapers, Ford to Ferrari, homespun to less than 20 years.
The network's English language channel aired in November 2006.
At the time of Emir Khalifa bin Hamad al Thani's ascension to power there were approximately 250 displaced journalists hanging out in Doha, having just been let go by a Saudi Arabian effort who didn't appreciate their too-independent, BBC bred reporting style.  Qatar's emir hired half of them, ostensibly to provide a means of promotion for the upstart peninsula country - and Al Jazeera was born.
In Arabic Al Jazeera means "the island."
There is controversy surrounding the network, which is funded in part by the Qatari government:  Osama bin Laden's videos aired here and correspondents were once banned from Israel amid charges of biased reporting.  Plus, sensitive Doha happenings are not always represented.  For example, the terrible Villagio fire that killed 13 babies and 4 adults, initiated a shutdown of offices, malls and project sites countrywide to review fire codes and assure safety compliance and is a continuing source of dissention as "those responsible" have yet to appear in court…
Yeah, the night of the fire got about 30 seconds on Al Jazeera.
Today, Al Jazeera has " over sixty bureaus around the world that span six different continents…broadcasts to over 250 million households across 130 countries…" With a long list of prestigious awards to its credit, Al Jazeera is recognized as an influential, go-to source for hard-hitting news from everywhere...but especially in the Arab world.
A few headlines from today's Al Jazeera online:
UN chief in Russia as Syria crisis deepensDeadly blasts hit mosques in PakistanIsrael to approve four West Bank settlementsAustralian scientists work to save Koalas
Among top hits in a search for "Doha News" on Al Jazeera's website:
Deal reached in Doha to extend Kyoto protocol'Black Gold' stars at Doha film festivalFreed Sami al-Hajj returns to Doha
I searched specially for this one (includes a video):
But had to go to The Washington Post to learn more about this (very recent) incident:
Other popular local Doha news sources


Peggy said...

Interesting post. I've had a link to Al Jazeera on my computer from, apparently their beginning--because of my volunteer service in Bosnia/Kosovo. It was sometimes the only place I could find up to date information for that area.
Looking forward to your post next Friday from Doha. It has been really nice to get them from Kansas City these past weeks!!

akaButch said...

Seems to me that Al Jazeera often gives a clearer perspective of Mideast news than the US media.

Anonymous said...

Great information, Cindi. Very informative and more to boot I learned something!

Lucinda H. Kennaley said...

Thanks for these great comments! It's interesting to me that, while most people know about Al Jazeera, the great majority of people I meet haven't heard of Qatar. Interesting.