al-Jazeera television

Based in the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, al-Jazeera began broadcasting in 1996. Initially, many of its staff were recruited from the BBC which had launched an Arabic TV channel a couple of years earlier, only to close it down as a result of censorship attempts by Saudi Arabia, which controlled the relevant satellite.

Although funded by the Qatari government, al-Jazeera was given (in Arab terms) an unprecedented measure of editorial freedom. The professionalism of its news coverage, plus studio discussions which raised many previously-taboo issues, soon won it a huge audience in the Arabic-speaking countries.

Al-Jazeera began to attract widespread attention in the west in 2001. It was the only TV station with a permanent 24-hour satellite link to Kabul during the Afghan war and its exclusive footage was used by many western channels. It also became famous (or notorious) for broacasting videotaped messages from al-Qaida leaders.

Al-Jazeera's bureau in Kabul was bombed by the US during the Afghan war, as was its bureau in Baghdad during the US-led invasion of Iraq. It was later reported that President Bush had wanted to bomb al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar too, but had been discouraged from doing so by the British prime minister, Tony Blair.

Despite the hostility of the Bush administration towards it, al-Jazeera's historical role in promoting the free flow of information and opening up political debate in the Middle East is diffcult to over-estimate.

The English-language sister channel, al-Jazeera English, began broadcasting on 15 November, 2006. Its programmes can be viewed online via the channel's website.

In Arabic "al-jazeera" means "the island" - a term also used to refer to the Arabian peninsula. Some say the TV station's name refers more specifically to its home country, Qatar, which is itelf a peninsula attached to the Arabian peninsula.

The distinctive gold logo is said to resemble a droplet of water. Its calligraphic design spells "al-Jazeera" in Arabic. The logo, which has become one of the world's most widely recognised brand labels, was chosen by the emir of Qatar as the winning entry in a design competition. It was reputedly designed in 20 minutes by a Qatari man who heard about the competition on his car radio.

The news channel's official website in Arabic. Also in English. (This is not to be confused with several similarly-named websites, including and, which have no connection with the TV station.)

General information from Wikipedia

Friends of Aljazeera
Website seeking "to dispel the myths that al-Jazeera is some sort of evil, violence-advocating, democracy hindering force in the Middle-East".

Same news, different perspective
The Guardian, February 06 2006

Presidential Room 5, Sheraton Hotel, Doha. The doyen of chatshow hosts has just flown in to Qatar and for once it is his turn to face the interviewers' questions. Hello and welcome to Sir David Frost.

Al-Jazeera has made news in Arabic ... now it hopes to make its mark in English
The Guardian, September 02 2004

The Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera, denounced and bombed by the US and banned by the Iraqi government, has begun recruiting staff for a channel in English that will show news and documentaries.

When worlds collide
The Guardian, July 22 2004

Just before the war in Iraq, when journalists were rushing off to become embedded with the military, Jehane Noujaim, an Arab- American film director, decided to embed herself among journalists. She arrived with a couple of mini-DV cameras in Qatar ...

Fury at US as attacks kill three journalists
The Guardian, April 09 2003

The Arab satellite television channel al-Jazeera is to pull its reporters out of Iraq after one of them was killed during a US air raid on Baghdad.

Al-Jazeera causes outcry with broadcast of battle casualties
The Guardian, March 24 2003

Al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite channel which angered the United States with its coverage of the Afghan war, has caused a new furore by broadcasting blood-and-guts images from the invasion of Iraq.

Battle station
The Guardian, February 07 2003

The show is over for another week and Faisal al-Qassem, the hottest property in Arab television, emerges from the basement studio with his guests. There is no hospitality suite at al-Jazeera television, so he commandeers the editor-in-chief's office, where there is just about enough room for three people to spread out and relax. Someone enters with a tray of coffee, trips and spills it.

Battle station
The Guardian, October 09 2001

As the bombs fell on Afghanistan on Sunday night, Mohammed Kicham, the Qatar-based anchorman of al-Jazeera television, was talking to camera when a voice came through his earpiece. "Mohammed," it said, "you're now on CNN... and BBC...

The sweet and sour success of al-Jazeera
Why al-Jazeera's impact is so powerful. By Abdallah Schleifer, TBS Journal No 7, 2001

The age of new media
The role of al-Jazeera in developing aspects of civil society in Qatar. By Dr. Ali al-Hail, TBS Journal No 4, 2000.

Interview with Mohammed Jasim al-Ali
Managing director of al-Jazeera. 2001. Also interview in 2000

Interview with Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani
Chairman of al-Jazeera. 2001

How the free Arab news network scooped the world and changed the Middle East
Interview with Mohammed el-Nawawy and Adel Iskander Farag. Carnegie Council on Ethics & International Affairs

History and technical information from Allied Media

News or Nuisance?
A historical account by Naomi Sakr

Profile of al-Jazeera
By Shawn Powers, University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy

Just before midnight at al-Jazeera
By Martin Kramer, October 2002

Qatar's al- Jazeera livens up Arab TV scene
BBC, 7 January 1999