Bahrain closes pan-Arab TV news channel

Updated 10 February 2015
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Bahrain closes pan-Arab TV news channel

DUBAI: Bahrain on Monday announced the closure of a new pan-Arab news channel, owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
The Alarab News Channel, launched on February 1, was on air for only a few hours before reverting to promotional material while trying to resolve “technical and administrative” issues.
“It has been decided to halt the activities of Alarab, the channel not having received the necessary permits,” a statement from the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority said on Monday.
Shortly after its launch on February 1, programming was interrupted after Alarab broadcast an interview with an opposition politician in Bahrain.
The interview with a Shiite opponent of the Gulf kingdom’s Sunni rulers sparked criticism in the pro-government Bahraini daily Akhbar Al-Khaleej.
The newspaper said it learned that Alarab was taken off the air for “not adhering to the norms prevalent in Gulf countries.”
The head of media at Bahrain’s information ministry, Yusuf Mohammed, said last week that “cooperation with Alarab’s administration is ongoing, in order to resume its broadcasts and complete necessary measures as soon as possible.”
Jamal Khashoggi, Alarab’s general manager, could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday.
Prior to the launch of Alarab, Khashoggi told AFP the channel was “not going to take sides.”
Khashoggi said “a news channel should not have a political agenda... We should just be a news channel that provides accurate, objective information.”
Although its news programs stopped within hours of the launch, Alarab continued to show promotional material.
Until just after 1200 GMT on Monday, it was broadcasting a message that programming had been interrupted for “technical and administrative reasons, and we’ll be back soon, God willing.”
But at about 1204 GMT the promotional material stopped and the screen displayed only Alarab’s green and white logo.
Alarab was the latest player in the Arabic-language television market, after Qatar-subsidised Al-Jazeera became the first regional news broadcaster 19 years ago.
It also aimed to be a rival for Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, established in 2003 and owned by Sheikh Waleed Al-Ibrahim.
Critics have accused the established broadcasters of reflecting their owners’ political views, especially during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa.
Both long-running channels deny any slant in their coverage.
Khashoggi had earlier said the channel would have about 280 staff, including correspondents in 30 countries.
Riyadh would be the largest bureau with around 20 employees.


Lebanese town bans Muslims from buying, renting property

Updated 32 min 46 sec ago
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Lebanese town bans Muslims from buying, renting property

  • Lebanese Christian communities feel under siege as Muslims leave overcrowded areas
  • This comes against the backdrop of deep-rooted sectarian divisions that once erupted into a 15-year civil war

BEIRUT: The case of Hadat, a once-Christian Lebanese town that bars Muslims from buying or renting property, has sparked a national outcry.
It reflects the country’s rapidly changing demographic make-up against the backdrop of deep-rooted sectarian divisions that once erupted into a 15-year civil war that left more than 100,000 people dead.
Lebanese Christian communities feel under siege as Muslims leave overcrowded areas for once predominantly Christian neighborhoods.
Mohammed Awwad and his fiancee, both Muslims, recently found an affordable apartment for rent online in Hadat, southeast of Beirut, but were stunned when they found that Muslims are not allowed to settle in the town.
Hadat is the only area where such a ban is publicly announced. Elsewhere, it’s imposed in more discreet ways.