Formerly TBS Journal

ISSN: 1687-7721

Arab World

Interview: Sue Phillips on Al Jazeera International's First Year

October 2007. Speaking to Arab Media & Society’s George Weyman in July 2007, Sue Phillips, London bureau chief for Al Jazeera International, reflects on the network’s first year and the changes and challenges that lie ahead.

The Alhurra Project: Radio Marti of the Middle East

US public diplomacy channel Alhurra: an expensive irrelevance?

Larry Register’s forced departure from the US public diplomacy channel marks a low point for American efforts at broadcasting to the Middle East, an entirely predictable debacle which likely puts paid to even the slender hopes that the station might turn itself around argues Editorial Board Member Marc Lynch.

The Arab Broadcast Forum 2007: Self-criticism surfaces despite some sidestepping

Discussions were rarely heated in Abu Dhabi, despite a hot issue list including Darfur, war coverage, youth programming and democracy.

The Arab Broadcast Forum both intentionally and inadvertently exposed some of the obstacles that continue to plague Arab World television media, as well as the conference’s own shortcomings. But its ability to critically examine these thingsdespite some flawsdemonstrates that the Arab media is at least on the right track, says Abigail Hauslohner.

Rate of Arabic language TV start-ups shows no sign of abating

France 24 plans to broadcast 12 hours daily in Arabic.

Alan L. Heil Jr. documents the plethora of new public diplomacy channels broadcasting in Arabic, including France 24, Deutsche Welle, and Russia TV Today, arguing credibility will be crucial to success with audiences in an increasingly crowded market.

Voice of America versus Radio Sawa in the Middle East: A Personal Perspective

The VOA has a long history of covering the Middle East both in English and in Arabic.  Picture courtesy of the VOA.

By scrapping Voice of America in the Middle East, the US has both undercut its own public diplomacy interests and the interests of listeners in the region itself, argues Laurie Kassman.

Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa: Advancing freedom in the Arab World

Outgoing BBG Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson says Alhurra and Sawa are advocating freedom in the Middle East. Courtesy of the BBG.

That Arab viewers accept this U.S. government-funded station as credible is a great victory, especially after being on the air little more than three years. That some Arab viewers find the assertions of advocates for freedom jarring to their ears is a price we will gladly pay, argues outgoing Broadcasting Board of Governors Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson.

America's Voice as it could have been

At a projected start-up cost of $15.5, the branded-VOA full Arabic network would have cost half of Radio Sawa.  Picture courtesy of VOA.

The inability of Sawa and Alhurra to speak with critical populations in the Middle East and their emphasis on the most trivial of American pop culture have marginalized the United States and prevented a reasoned and substantive conversation between the United States and the Arab world, says former VOA Director Myrna Whitworth.

Radio Sawa: America's new adventure in radio broadcasting

According to its founders, Radio Sawa was designed to report the news 'straight up' so listeners could 'decide for themselves'.

In this content analysis of U.S. Public Diplomacy radio station Radio Sawa, veteran Middle East broadcasting specialist Sam Hilmy argues that the pop-music driven channel is not meeting its commitment to provide “accurate, timely and relevant news about the Middle East, the world and the United States.”

Sexual Healing: How big is Kalaam Kibeer?

Dr Heba Kotb aims to give Arabs a

Al Mehwar’s Heba Kotb is not just any sexologist; she’s the Arab world’s first celebrity tele-sexologist, and a devout Muslim sexologist to boot. So how does the Doctor of Sex reconcile her performance on satellite TV discussing sexual pleasure with her strictly Islamic principles? Anna Swank investigates.

Does the veiled look sell? Egyptian advertisers grapple with the hijab

Despite the fact that many Arab women wear the hijab, adverts more often show unveiled women.  Photograph by Kim Badawi.

It seems obvious that for an ad to be effective it must represent a prettier, cleaner, better version of reality and yet at the same time feel natural. So why is the hijab such a sensitive topic in Egyptian advertising? Contributing Editor Sharon Otterman investigates, and finds a puzzling mismatch between the hijab in TV ads and the hijab on the street.

Al Arabiya Producer Nabil Kassem: Arab media are “living in denial” over Darfur

Two years on, Nabil Kassem is still profoundly affected by his experiences in Sudan. What he witnessed there, and recorded in a film he made for Al Arabiya, were scenes of unspeakable brutality and untold suffering, scenes he thought would surely wake up an Arab public all too willing to let Darfur pass by. But 'Jihad on Horseback' never made it across the airwaves. In this highly charged interview with Lawrence Pintak, Kassem speaks of how Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir prevented the broadcast of perhaps the most provocative documentary film ever made by an Arab director.

British Middle East representative, Jon Wilks: Fluent Arabic spokesmen can “promote a freer media in the Arab World”

Recently posted at the British embassy in Dubai, Jon Wilks is no newcomer to the Middle East. Having served across the region over a number of years, the fluent Arabic speaker has been brought in to explain British government policy to the Arab World. Speaking to Arab Media & Society Managing Editor George Weyman, Wilks talks about his role, revealing his mixed views on Arab-channel interviews and how he avoids discussing conspiracy theories.

BOOK REVIEW | Filming the Modern Middle East: Politics in the Cinemas of Hollywood and the Arab World

Lina Khatib laments the fact that “the number of studies on the way the Middle East represents itself cinematically � is infinitesimal.” Yet because Khatib does not pursue this much-needed study herself in a field where there are already a number of survey-type works, she misses a valuable opportunity to engage with the Arab cinema on a deeper level of analysis, argues Refqa Abu-Remaileh.

BOOK REVIEW | Arab Media in the Information Age

The methodological shortcomings and scarce editing make this book a frustrating read. The lessons to be taken from this book regard the challenges facing Arab media studies as much as those facing Arab media, argues Contributing Editor Sune Haugbolle.

BOOK REVIEW | American Encounters with Arabs: The “Soft Power” of U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Middle East

Readers of American Encounters will be heartened by the reminder that — regardless of the administration or specific policy — there remain elements in the U.S. foreign policy establishment dedicated to engaging with Arab audiences and keeping avenues of communication open, argues Will Ward.

Darfur: Covering the “forgotten” story

The burning village of Um Zeifa. Image by Brian Steidle courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

There is no issue in Arab journalism today that is more controversial than how the region’s media cover Darfur. It is the hot-button issue in the Arab newsroom not because of the physical danger but because the issue bores right to the heart of the mission of Arab journalism and the self-identity of those who practice it, writes Publisher and Co-Editor Lawrence Pintak.

Do National political systems still influence Arab media?

Photograph by Kim Badawi.

Although recent changes in information technology, especially the growth of satellite television, have had an impact on Arab media, making national borders more porous, existing national political systems are still a dominant variable affecting the structure and behavior of Arab media, argues Editorial Board Member William A. Rugh.

Lines in the Sand: Problematizing Arab Media in the Post-Taxonomic Era

Al Arabiya presenter Cyba Audi.  The growth of satellite television in the Arab World has complicated the task of producing typologies. Courtesy of Al Arabiya.

Without a critical cultural examination of the multiple sides of the “Arabic” and “Arab” media terrain, the fervent attachment to the production of taxonomies to describe this terrain at a time of exponential transformation may provide little more than lines in the sand, claims Editorial Board Member Adel Iskandar.

Press Under Siege Conference Raises a Cry for a Freer Middle East Press

It was not clear whether the ultimate point of the conference was to support Arab journalists in their struggle for protected freedoms, or to promote Siniora’s governmentthen under heavy fireas democratic and free before a would-be sympathetic international audience, claims Abigail Hauslohner.

Censorship: What you didn't see

Do Arab newspapers say one thing in Arabic and another in English? Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy thinks so. She was a columnist for the Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat until she was abruptly dropped last year. One reason may have been her complaints about how her articles were being edited for the Arabic edition. Here's your chance to read one of her original op-eds alongside the edited version.