Qatar-financed news channel Al Jazeera is – perhaps – to have a rival, also financed by Qatari interests. Al Arabi al-Jadeed is being set up in London as a direct rival to Al Jazeera as well as the MBC-backed (and Dubai-based) Al Arabia news station. The ‘perhaps’ word is important because frequently channels are announced but never get off the ground.
However, the new concept is said to be motivated by recent political problems amongst some of the Gulf States. In particular, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have all split with Qatar over differences of opinion in regard to Egypt’s – now banned – Muslim Brotherhood, which Qatar has supported in the past.
Some of the above countries have detained and arrested Al Jazeera journalists. Egypt has held journalists working for Al Jazeera’s English channel for more than 3 months, and another (Abdullah al-Shami) for more than 6 months.
The new channel is described as being intended to restore Qatar’s image in these key Arabic markets.