CNN Arabic is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The Arabic edition of the international news network first went live in 2002 as a digital news service based out of Dubai Media City in the UAE, with the aim of telling stories for Arab audiences around the world.
The channel had its biggest year ever in 2021 in terms of daily audience numbers. The figure has grown by more than 150 percent in the last six years, according to Adobe Analytics. The network attributes this success to a healthy mix of mobile-first video, interactive and written news, delivered to Arabic-speaking digital audiences worldwide.
هذه هي الرسالة التي أرسلها تيد تيرنر، مؤسس شبكة CNN عند انطلاقة موقعنا قبل 20 سنة..
عقدان من الزمان شهدا الكثير من التغيرات عربيا وعالميا..
— CNN بالعربية (@cnnarabic) January 17, 2022
“When we launched CNN Arabic 20 years ago, I don’t think anyone envisaged the changes the world would go through over the following two decades,” said Rani Raad, president of CNN Worldwide Commercial.
“In that time, the role that the Arabic speaking world plays on the global geopolitical landscape has changed significantly, and the UAE, where CNN Arabic is based, has developed as a major strategic player in the global economy.”
The Arabic network also ranked as the number one news provider against competitors including Sky News, Al Arabiya and BBC Arabic, among others, according to an independent study of news consumers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and the US.
The same study found that the CNN Arabic was highly trusted, scoring more than three times the average trust rating. This is an achievement for the network at a time when overall trust in news remains low, with more than 50 percent of young Arabs not having much trust in any channel — be it TV and newspapers, or online portals and social media — as a source of news, according to the Arab Youth Survey 2021.
“The role of responsible and accurate news brands has become even more important in a world awash with misinformation, and we will continue to serve Arabic speaking audiences around the world with the news they need to inform the most important decisions in their lives,” said Raad.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, CNN Arabic has formed three multi-year partnerships focusing on specific topics in the Arab world.
It has partnered with UN Women in the Arab States to develop and implement a strategy across editorial output, events and other projects, to support the acceleration of gender equality, financial inclusion and female employment throughout the Arab world.
It has also partnered with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, which will see CNN Arabic upskill Arab youth over three years to enable them to succeed in the future of work, promote sustainability in the UAE and more.
Lastly, it has partnered with Sharjah Press Club to train young journalists over the next three years in various areas covering multimedia news and content production. The training will also include teaching teenagers about using social media and identifying misinformation.
“We are incredibly proud to have provided independent news with a global perspective to Arab audiences for 20 years now,” said Caroline Faraj, vice-president of Arabic services at CNN.
Faraj, who has led CNN Arabic since its inception and was named winner of the media category in the Arab Women of the Year Awards 2021, added: “However, we never want to stand still. As a digital news service from the very outset, it’s in our DNA to always evolve and experiment in order to remain relevant as people’s news habits continue to change.”