Growth in the GCC non-oil sector is forecast to pick up from 2.
But the political and security risks remain high and could limit or delay the recovery in the region. He said will be a key year of transition for Saudi Arabia in several contexts.
Most GCC economies set to transition to 'new normal' in - iqegumybiwyf.ml
For the first time, Saudi citizens will pay VAT on the goods and services they buy, Saudi women will be permitted to drive, and private and foreign investors may be able to take a stake in Saudi Aramco. Load Comments. Follow us on. All rights reserved. Read our privacy guidelines.
These factors contextualize a broader social reality that news refracts. While this paper is not concerned with an evaluation of the political situation in the Gulf region; however, it is important to highlight the transitions that are conducive to a new media environment. There transitions are threefold: increased citizen participation, the emergence of a new leadership and transition of power.
There is ample evidence about an emergence of a democratic dialogue in each of the GCC countries. For instance, parliaments in Kuwait and Bahrain have been sites for serious dialogue concerning the media. At the time of writing, both Kuwait and Bahrain are debating new press laws. Similarly, other countries have taken steps to increase participation of social constituents in the decision making process.
In fact, the largest country in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, has held municipal elections and developed arenas for dialogue on some of the controversial issues such as women and minority rights. In spite of the differences in the definition of the political system in each country, the GCC countries share a common understanding of leadership based on a monarchy and tribal relations. As the rulers were aging, the transition of power became a serious issue both on the national, regional and international level.
The main concern is a continuity maintained only through the ascent to power of a well trained heir. The cases of Qatar and the UAE stand out in this regard. Later, Emir Hamad and his father reconciled in ; the same year that he established Al Jazeera television. This political transition gave birth to a global medium that has changed the media landscape not in the Arabian Gulf but in the world.
There is a direct relationship between secure borders and a flourishing media. Internal or external threats challenge freedom of expression and communication development.
Most GCC economies set to transition to 'new normal' in 2018
Media starts to serve political interests and is rarely left independent. The last three decades witnessed three major wars that threatened the security and the stability in the Gulf. In spite of the current war in Iraq, the northern borders, particularly, neighboring Saudi Arabia and Kuwaiti borders have come under no direct threat. Since the mid nineties, The Kingdom of Bahrain has accommodated the Shiaa Islamic requests while Yemen has been reunified; the eastern and southern borders are stable.
With a large military presence, the region enjoys an American security umbrella. Since the end of Desert Storm in , Saudi Arabia has become a primary target of terrorist actions and recruitment. The US military presence in the Kingdom, the domestic demand for political and economic reforms added to unemployment are some of the proclaimed root causes of these terrorist operations.
The economies of the GCC countries have witnessed a tremendous growth in a post September 11, , environment. In , the economic boom in the GCC is set to enter its fourth year due primarily to high oil prices. These structures are also coupled by an interest in diffusing and receiving information. At the time of writing this paper, three other regional Gulf-based business channels are under preparation.
As detailed later in this paper, the major transition in Al Arabiya is closely related to the need for business news. This economic boom has impacted various sectors; primarily real estate and retail. The first has recorded milestone changes to accommodate various investments. It is only during the last three years that foreign ownership of residential units has been permitted in UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. In an effort to attract both foreign as well as Arab tourists, these countries have encouraged the building and sale of units on artificial islands.
Perhaps the magnitude of these projects can be best illustrated by the Palm project, a series of man made islands in the shape of this Arab tree that can be seen from the moon. Similarly, Saudi Arabia has engaged in extensive efforts to promote religious tourism and, to that end, has devised time share investments in compliance with Islamic law.
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The need to receive information about tourism and real estate has prompted the opening of at least two channels, Al Iqariat and Mishkat specifically, to serve this audience niche. While their programming is more promotional than news, yet, they do offer various information oriented programs. Additionally, the retail sector has also witnessed some growth as Gulf citizens and expatriates look for ways to use their disposable income. Shopping malls, leisure and entertainment facilities have become an essential part of the Gulf lifestyle.
In the past five years, the UAE, Bahrain and Oman have taken various steps to increase the experiences of their residence. Pioneered by Dubai in , shopping festivals became a yearly event in most of the Gulf countries. Usually, these are month long televised activities including entertainment acts and attractions. This background of economic boom and need for various types of information serves as one angle for examining the transitions taking place in the news industry. The satellite boom of this decade has triggered the establishment of various Gulf based news channels.
From the international franchise of CNBC focusing on business news to the Kuwaiti-funded, UAE based El Iqariat the real estate channel , a number of satellite channels are worthy of analysis. At least six books directly dealt with the birth and growth of Al Jazeera, while many articles tried to decipher its mission, describe its audience and dis -credit its claims. As noted earlier, the channel started broadcasting in late At the same time, the computer software and organizational aspects of mounting a pan Arab news satellite channel were designed and tested.
Over the past five years, the channel grew from a regional channel to a global news source. Regionally, the channel witnessed the second Palestinian uprising, which erupted in September , and covered the Israeli invasion of Palestinian towns and refugee camps in Spring Al Jazeera again found itself in the limelight.
With positions on both ends of the struggle, Al Jazeera was able to give an account of life under Taliban. Regardless of the criticism against its broadcasts, the pictures and the sounds of its reporters were re-transmitted internationally. The war in Iraq in brought several challenges to the channel. Internally, Al Jazeera was competing against its own bias, news standards and ethical dilemmas. This time war was on the Arab world, but unlike the Palestinian case, the Arabs were divided.
Perhaps the removal of Jassem El Ali for alleged conspiracy with the Iraqi regimes tells some aspect of these internal challenges. Politically, the channel had to maintain its independence while carefully managing the politics of access dictated by the various parties: the coalition forces, the Iraqi regime, the Kuwaitis and the Jordanians. On the Arab scene, Al Jazeera had to compete for the hearts and minds of the Arabs. The war has intensified competition with Al Arabiya, at the time a new 24 hour news channel.
While the performance of Al Jazeera during the recent war in Iraq warrants further study, it has managed to emerge as a global news source. Almost ten years after its establishment, Al Jazeera is undergoing various transitions on two main levels. First, the channel has become an international brand. Initially, it was concerned with pushing the envelope of traditional Arabic news coverage. At the forefront were the Palestinian uprising and the prospects of peace.
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It carried his message to the Arab world and relayed it to international broadcasters. This global brand recognition required two specific transitions related to content and form. Al Jazeera has become a school in journalism where after 10 years, a journalist rises through the ranks to manage the channel. It places the channel amongst various global media institutions which depend on fostering their own philosophies of programming. First, the channel underwent a major change in its look and feel. It played on the same themes of the peninsula, water, Islamic calligraphy but the channel became more edgy, fast paced and it re-emphasized its hard colors of yellow and red.
It relocated to new studios and adopted an international look comparable to international channels such as the BBC and CNN. In contrast, female news anchors started appearing in veil. It is not clear whether this is encouraged or respected by management, but it surely provides a converging point between the forces of globalization and traditionalization. The second is a transition from a news channel to news provider to a multicasting network. Initially, Al Jazeera was a 24 hour regional channel; but its access to exclusive footage, primarily during the war in Afghanistan, has turned the channel to a news source.
During the Iraq war, there was serious collaboration with CNN dispatching senior Middle East analyst, Octavia Nasr, to collaborate between the two channels.
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In one year Al Jazeera moved from one news channel supported by a website to five channels, with various interactive services. In the past two years, Al Jazeera sports broadcasts two services covering Arab and international news and games; Al Jazeera Live, a channel similar to C-Span, broadcasts conferences and events in real time without editing or commentary.
Finally, Al Jazeera Children's Channel was launched as an outlet for youth edutainment. First the addition of Al Jazeera international is perceived as a global channel providing an alternative to western based English news. Second Al Jazeera, in Urdu, will tap into a niche audience of global presence. At the time of writing, Al Jazeera is debating various horizontal and vertical integration plans. In short, Al Jazeera has news as its trade, with its targets the neglected markets.
The channel has boasted a very strong team of independent journalists, who were trained and managed by news veterans of British ITV.
The channel was soon a success both as a fast paced visually appealing news format, as well as a non-governmental pan Arab news source. In fact, the channel was endorsed by Saudi businesses while its programming respected Saudi taboos and policies. This also prompted a further expansion through the creation of a western free to air movie channel, MBC 2. It was a matter of time before MBC capitalized on its news legacy and started a 24 hour news channel.