Al-Qahera News to kick off soon

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 24 Oct 2022

Al-Ahram Weekly reports on the imminent launch of Al-Qahera News, Egypt’s first pan-Arab news channel.

Ahmed Al-Taheri
Ahmed Al-Taheri


The United Media Services (UMS) Company is preparing to launch its Al-Qahera News TV channel next month. Ahead of the upcoming launch, the channel has posted its slogan “Here is Cairo… The Capital of News. Arabism Brings Us Together” on its social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

Ahmed Al-Taheri, head of UMS news channels, said on Friday that the decision to launch Al-Qahera News reflects its wish to have a TV news outlet that can support Egypt’s media role at the local, regional, and international levels.

He said the launch would kick off on 1 November in order to cover the UN COP27 Climate Change Conference scheduled to be held between 6 and 18 November at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Al-Qahera News will be broadcasting on 11747 V on Egypt’s NileSat satellite. “The new channel will join sister TV news channels owned by UMS Extra News and Extra Live,” Al-Taheri said.

The Extra Live channel was launched on Monday and will air important events taking place in Egypt and the outside world, starting with the COP27.

The UMS said in a statement on 13 October that the launch of Al-Qahera News comes as part of the company’s desire to boost the quality of air media content in Egypt and the Arab world in all sectors, particularly in the news domain.

“The UMS news sector is one of the biggest in the Arab world and the Middle East and is set to release channels aiming to be voices discussing the political, economic, and social conditions of Egypt and Arab countries in an objective and professional style,” said the statement.

To prepare for its launch, the statement noted that all the channel’s financial and technical resources are standing by. It published a video reviewing the channel’s staff of international correspondents and high-calibre journalists and writers.

Correspondents can be seen presenting from Washington, Moscow, Berlin, Paris, London, Ankara, Marseilles, Brussels, Beirut, Amman, Ramallah, Damascus, Baghdad, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Tunis, Tripoli, Benghazi, Adan, Khartoum, and Nairobi on the new channel.

On his Facebook page on Sunday, Al-Taheri wrote that 90 per cent of the staff on the channel and covering the news will come from the “Maspero school” of Egypt’s 62-year-old state-run Radio and Television Union (currently the National Authority for Media).

“This is Egypt’s authentic news school and the foundation on which we will build Al-Qahera News,” Al-Taheri said, indicating that “a number of staff will also come from its sister Extra News channel and these have been receiving training for over one year.”

He indicated that in June 2021 UMS had used the Extra News channel Facebook page to announce its hiring of TV presenters, hosts, and anchors. “We received 5,000 applicants and were able to hire the staff of Al-Qahera News ahead of its launch in November,” he said.

While a number of well-known journalists and media personalities with experience in regional and international TV channels will contribute to the channel, only around 10 per cent of staff will come from neighbouring Arab countries.

Al-Taheri also revealed that Al-Qahera News will be a HD and SD TV channel airing in Arabic and English. He has high hopes that it will be highly competitive. “I promise we will be hard-working, professional, innovative and devoted to our project,” he said.

In July 2021, UMS announced that it would be tapping the TV news sector to launch a number of new TV channels.

In 2017, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi told the World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh that Egypt would be launching a TV news channel that would be a competitive and capable voice for the country.

“Not only will it offer objective coverage of Egypt and the Arab world, but it will also stand up to media conspiracies trying to tarnish the image of Egypt,” Al-Sisi said, adding that “I know that such channels will require huge financial resources, but whatever the cost we have to use the next few years to turn this dream into reality.”

Most media experts welcomed the launch of Al-Qahera News. Abdallah Al-Sinnawi said there has been a pressing need for a Cairo-based TV news channel than can compete with rivals broadcasting from Arab capitals like Aljazeera in Qatar, Sky News Arabia in Abu Dhabi, and Al-Arabiya in Riyadh.

“These capitals have been using their channels to exercise political influence and press their agenda in the region, while Egypt has not had a pan-Arab channel that can reflect its influence and fight for stability, moderation and peace,” Al-Sinnawi said.

Hend Rashad, secretary-general of parliament’s Media Committee, told Al-Ahram Weekly that “it has been a dream for media people in Egypt for a long time to launch a pan-Arab TV channel that can stand on an equal footing with Arab channels peddling influence and serving certain ideological agendas.”

While the lack of financial resources had been an obstacle, with UMS onboard the financial and technical capabilities were in place, she said.

“We have for a long time been the target of media campaigns, rumours, and lies, and it is time to have a Cairo-based channel to defend Egypt’s interests and reinforce its soft power in the Arab world and Middle East,” Rashad said.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 October, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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