The History of Al Jazeera

  • Haydar Badawi SadigEmail author
  • Catalina Petcu
Part of the Contemporary Gulf Studies book series (CGS)


Al Jazeera Arabic (AJA) established in 1996, repositioned Qatar as a major hub of news in the Arab Gulf region, the Middle East and the Islamic world. And, since the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States in 2001 and airing Osama bin Laden’s statements, Al Jazeera became a major player in world news and was dubbed as the CNN of the Arab world. In 2006, Al Jazeera English (AJE) was launched. However, it wasn’t until the January 2011 revolt in the Arab world that Al Jazeera English began attracting serious interest in the United States. With its coverage of uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, it became the principal source of information for Western officials, media organizations and audiences. AJE was the only English-language network outlet with nonstop live video of demonstrations in the Egyptian capital. Hence, major Western media outlets were forced by necessity to replay Al Jazeera coverage of events in Egypt. This affirms the widely held impression that the advent of the AJA (in 1996) and AJE (in 2006) offered a fresh, and very powerful hegemonic challenge to Western dominance of international news and information flows unmatched by any other network launched since. This chapter will tell the story of Al Jazeera’s 20 years of operation from a historic perspective that situates it within the history of the South-North debates on news flows. Of particular interest will be how Al Jazeera fits in the context of the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) debates (that led to the withdrawal of the United States and Britain from UNESCO in 1985). This will include a discussion of the extent to which the regional media landscape has changed following Al Jazeera.


History Information flow South-North debate NWICO Arab media Challenge 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Qatar UniversityDohaQatar

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