Al Arabiya and its parent network, the Middle East Broadcasting Center, are owned by Sheik Walid al-Ibrahim, the brother-in-law of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. The New York Times wrote that Sheik Walid's "personal political interests" may have encouraged him to found Al Arabiya: "The Saudi royal family dislikes Al Jazeera because it gives air time to Al Qaeda, and one of Al Qaeda's most cherished goals is the overthrow of the Saudi government." 
"Al Arabiya's sophisticated production values set it apart from other Arab news channels," according to the New York Times. "Its sets and graphics have a clean, high-tech look, and its news bulletins are fast-paced -- no item lasts longer than two and a half minutes -- and are introduced with a dramatic drumbeat." 
U.S. government officials and their Iraqi allies have criticized Al Arabiya's news coverage. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called Al Arabiya "violently anticoalition" and said that TV stations "like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya" leave "the Iraqi people with a totally imbalanced picture of what is happening in their country." The U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council suspended the station from covering Iraqi government activities for two weeks in September 2003, because they alleged Al Arabiya "was supporting resistance attacks." Two months later, the Council "ordered Al Arabiya to stop all of its Iraqi operations after the channel broadcast a taped message from Saddam Hussein in hiding." 
Al Arabiya has also been criticized for being pro-United States. The Jihadist Martyrs Brigades has called the station a "terrorist channel." The group also claimed it was responsible for an October 2004 car bomb attack on Al Arabiya's Baghdad office, which killed five station employees and wounded dozens more. 
Other Middle East Broadcasting Center channels include MBC, also based in Dubai, and MBC2, an entertainment-only channel based in Bahrain.
Related SourceWatch Resources
- Samantha M. Shapiro, "The War Inside the Arab Newsroom," New York Times, January 2, 2005.