Image by Mohammed N.
Al Jazeera is the world's most famous and most widely-watched Arabic news channel. What started off in 1996 as a small news station situated off Doha's TV Roundabout, has now become a vast network of channels, including an English news channel, documentary channel, live channel, children's channel and countless sports channels.
Al Jazeera, which literally means "The Island", was established with the help of the Emir himself in 1996. Its chairman is Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, a distant cousin of the Emir. It was set up with the aim of being the region's first trustworthy source of news, since most Arab state-owned news channels are heavily censored and biased.
Since then, Al Jazeera has revolutionized news broadcasting in the Middle East, causing waves across the region and the world with its hard-cutting reporting and controversial talk shows which dared to televise dissenting views. This has resulted in boycotts on the channel by several Arab governments, as well as criticism from the United States, and even bomb threats from former US President, George Bush.
Al Jazeera is most famed for being the sole news channel to receive exclusive interviews, audio tapes and footage from Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and getting away with it. By no means does this mean that it is a channel advocating terrorism, but rather a channel which even terrorist groups realize is broadcasting the truth.
What makes Al Jazeera such a unique channel in the Middle East is its editorial independence. This has been seen by many as evidence that Qatar is one of the region's more liberal and democratic countries, and one which provides freedom of press and speech.
Next : Doha Debates
For more information check out the Al Jazeera English site.