Within two decades the Qatar-based Al Jazeera media network has become among the world’s leading news companies.
21 years ago, the Father Emir, then Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani established the Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN), the parent company to Al Jazeera news channel, Al Jazeera English and BeIN Sports.
Expanding beyond Doha over the last two decades, Al Jazeera today has more 14 subsidiaries, 70 offices around the world later, and is the second largest media company in the world after BBC.
However, the success of Al Jazeera has been criticized by many. Today, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, as well as Israel, are calling on the Qatari government to shut it down, a step HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said he would never take.
Al Jazeera aired for the first time on November 1, 1996. Back then, it only broadcasted 6 hours of programming a day; increasing to 12 hours by the end of 1997. At the time the network broadcasted to Qatar’s direct neighbors through terrestrial signals, as well as through cable and satellite to other Arab nations.
On January 1, 1999, the network started 24-hour broadcasting, and it has just kept expanding since.
In November 2005, Al Jazeera English, an English language version of their landmark channel, went on air. It became the leading Arab and Middle East news source in English across the world.
But despite how large it got, Al Jazeera was always chasing a higher calling.
In 2011 they launched Al Jazeera Balkans in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, a version of the channel in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language(s).
Two years later it was followed by Al Jazeera America, which initially had 60% of its programs produced in the US with the remaining 40% being supplied by Al Jazeera English. Subsequently, all programs on Al Jazeera America became produced in the US.
But the crown jewel of network is, in my opinion, Al Jazeera Sports, or as it is known now, BeIN Sports. BeIN Sports is today one of the biggest sports media networks around the world, with millions of subscribers around the globe.
Whatever the future holds for Al Jazeera, we’re sure that it’ll come with more success and expansion.