(Al Jazeera 1.0) A Decade of Discord

Take a look at the history of the Arabic news channel.

  • 1996

    Al Jazeera takes off when the BBC World Service’s Saudi-funded Arabic television station is shuttered and a large number of its staffers create the new Doha-based channel, funded to the tune of $150 million by the emir of Qatar.

  • 1998

    By broadcasting graphic footage from inside Iraq during Operation Desert Fox–the Anglo-American bombing campaign that began when Saddam Hussein barred UN inspectors from the country–Al Jazeera gets on the map.

  • 2000

    Al Jazeera further inflames the Arab world by broadcasting graphic images of combat during the Palestinian Al Aqsa Intifada and talk shows full of appeals for Arab action against Israel.

  • 2001

    Al Jazeera is the only foreign TV broadcaster with a 24-7 satellite link from inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan during the Afghan war. Two American “smart” bombs destroy its Kabul office; the U.S. government calls it a mistake.

  • 2002

    May: Bahrain bans Al Jazeera reporters, calling them biased against Bahrain and toward Israel.
    October: The (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council calls for an ad boycott to protest Al Jazeera coverage.

  • 2003

    February: The Saudis launch Al Arabiya as a moderate and more pro-American channel. It quickly becomes a powerful competitor.
    April: Al Jazeera’s Baghdad HQ is bombed by U.S. forces, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub; the U.S. government calls it a mistake.

  • 2004

    February: Control Room airs at the Sundance Film Festival.
    April: Incensed at reports from Fallujah, George W. Bush reportedly asks Tony Blair if he should bomb the station’s headquarters in Qatar.

    August: Nigel Parsons is named managing director of a new English-language news channel, Al Jazeera International.
    October: U.S. forces detain two Al Jazeera reporters filming a car bombing in Iraq. (They had arrived before the bomb went off.)

  • 2005

    September: Correspondent Tayssir Allouni is sentenced to seven years in a Spanish prison for carrying money for Al Qaeda.
    November: Al Hurra, the Arabic-language network set up by the U.S. State Department to counter Al Jazeera, becomes the target of a financial investigation.

  • 2006

    January: Al Jazeera broadcasts tapes of Osama bin Laden; his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri; kidnapped journalist Jill Carroll; four captive aid workers; and two German hostages.
    January: Al Jazeera International announces it has hired ABC Nightline reporter Dave Marash as its Washington, DC, anchor.
    Late spring 2006: AJI is scheduled to go live.

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About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.