Chapter 1: IntroductionThis dissertation aims at looking into the impact of Al Jazeera television channel on the relationship between the Qatari state and other countries. The dissertation focuses on this aspect because broadcasting by Al-Jazeera news channel has always been under critical debates and faced certain controversies all over the world. Primarily, this channel is owned by the government of Qatar and is headquartered in Doha. The channel has continued to play a crucial role in disseminating news through several outlets globally, which target a varied audience. This is carried out through broadcasts in the languages that target these audiences although the channel broadcasts mainly in English and Arabic languages (Steger, 2008). This research work will highlight the impact of the television channel on international relationship between various countries of the world, in general, and the role of Al Jazeera news channel in influencing the relations of the state of Qatar with other countries, in particular.
The research will seek to delve into the perceptions of the world on the role of Qatar in supporting the most recent war in the Middle East.
Moreover, it is also intended to evaluate the various ways employed by the Qatari Government in backing this war on the whole. The study will therefore focus on the different interpretations of mass media in formation of opinion and political bias. It will employ the neutrality model to analyze the relationship between the government and the media. Comprehensive results will be extracted from the projected research work in order to draw some inclusive conclusions in regard to the factors influencing international relationships between Qatar and other countries. Al Jazeera-the channel, was started in 1996 in Qatar.
The channel was founded by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani who was the new Emir of Qatar. He granted $137 million to Al Jazeera as an initial endowment. Sheikh Hammad bin Thamer Al Thani is the chairman of Al Jazeera and is a cousin of Emir of Qatar. Moreover, Al Jazeera’s shares were held by Qatar government and by some other investors. Conclusively, the channel worked for the benefit of Qatar’s government on every national and international platform. Initially, the channel started its work by hiring most of its staff from BBC’s Arabic TV channel (which was a joint project of British and Saudi Arabia and was shut down in 1996 because of Saudi Arabia’s strict censor policies).
As Al Jazeera does not run on direct government financial support and therefore it alleges to uphold an independent editorial policy (Hugh, 2005) and (Sakr, 2001). The Al-Jazeera news channel gives Qatar the muscle it needs to expand on its foreign influence by creating mutual and beneficial connections, which can help to improve on its image.
This status has been supported by the massive oil and gas reserves the country has which have made Qatar to become not only one of the wealthiest monarchies in the Middle East but in the world at large. This wealth has made the country to have one of the highest GDP per capita in the world therefore making some of its Middle Eastern neighbors envious of its position (Akhmetov, 2012). The state of Qatar has always been uneasy with the dominance of regional affairs by neighboring Saudi Arabia and has sought to extend its relations with the US and European countries.