Saudi prince’s news channel to go live in February

December 15, 2014

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s pan-Arab news channel will finally take to the airwaves early next year.

Officials for the channel, dubbed Alarab, said Monday it will begin broadcasting on February 1 from its base in the Bahraini capital, Manama. The channel promises to provide “an objective, fresh and unbiased view of world events,” according to a press statement.

Officials didn’t say how much it would cost. The channel had previously been expected to begin operations in 2012 in Bahrain, a tiny island kingdom connected by a causeway to Saudi Arabia that is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Bahrain continues to face low-level unrest following widespread Arab Spring-inspired protests in 2011 that were dominated by the country’s Shiite majority, which seeks greater political rights from the ruling Sunni monarchy.

Alarab will be located in the country’s prominent, twin-towered World Trade Center. Alarab’s general manager, Jamal Khashoggi, told reporters the channel wouldn’t shy away from sensitive issues in its own backyard.

“We will cover all views,” he said. Alarab will compete against well-established competitors including Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, as well as Sky News Arabia and Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya, both of which are headquartered in the United Arab Emirates.

Bloomberg LP has a deal to provide business news content for Alarab, which could put the new channel in competition with Dubai-based business news channel CNBC Arabiya as well. Khashoggi said the channel will focus only on Arabic content, and has no plans to follow Al-Jazeera in launching an English-language channel.

A member of the Saudi royal family, Alwaleed controls Kingdom Holding Co., which has stakes in several well-known companies, including Citigroup Inc., Apple Inc., News Corp. and Twitter.

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