Al Jazeera: Change of the media landscape in the Middle East started 20 years ago
On the 1st of November in 1996 Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based television network, has changed the media landscape in the Middle East as well as globally forever. 20 years ago the Arabic-language satellite channel, launched its first broadcast from Doha. It has since expanded into a media network with several outlets, including the internet and news channels in multiple languages such as English, Turkish, Serbian or Suaheli.
The channel was launched by Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who hired 17 BBC journalists after they got fired by a failed Saudi-British cooperation called Orbit. As one of the first Arab news channels, it soon became the most watched TV outlet in the Middle East and North Africa. Today it reaches around 40 million people on a daily basis. Its nonstop coverage of conflicts and uncensored talk shows were unprecedented in a region where government control of the media is widespread. The TV channel’s exclusive stories from Afghanistan, Iraq and African countries as well as the uprising in several Arabic countries (Arabic Spring) established its reputation globally. Al Jazeera’s critical reports on the uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria angered many governments. Al Jazeera today is a global enterprise and a real competitor to BBC and CNN. A credible authority – a Qatari success story.