Out of all the Arabic-speaking, Western-branded media outlets CAMERA Arabic regularly monitors, there are two we place in a different category than the others: Sky News Arabia and Independent Arabia.
Whereas the other media outlets can generally be described as Arabic-speaking departments of already existing Western broadcasters (whether public or private), Sky News Arabia and Independent Arabia present a different model of operation and ownership. Namely, both regard themselves as “joint” ventures between the English speaking outlet whose name and logo they bear, and a media group that originates in the Persian Gulf.
In the case of Sky News Arabia, it is the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation (ADMIC), headed by none other than the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Prince Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the Abu Dhabi royal family. The prince currently owns half of Sky News Arabia, which is also headquartered in the city of Abu Dhabi, with Philadelphia-based Comcast holding the other half (as part of the company’s control of the entire Sky network). As for Independent Arabia, although it is headquartered in London, the outlet is fully owned by the Riyadh-based Saudi Research and Marketing Group. In turn, SRMG is headed by ‘Abd ar-Rahman bin Ibrahim ar-Ruwayta’, an associate of the Saudi royal family; it is also responsible for the publishing of the well renown pro-Saudi London newspaper ash-Sharq al-Awsat.
As we’ve pointed out on several occasions before, this shared model is highly problematic when it comes to maintaining even minimal journalistic standards, as it provides complete autonomy to editorial boards controlled by Gulf royals. A good recent example of the biased and unprofessional conduct that characterizes the journalism of these two outlets is their deliberate gross under-reporting of the 2020 World Holocaust Forum – the events of which took place in Jerusalem on January 23rd and 24th.
Sky News Arabia and Independent Arabia did not dedicate a single news item to what was widely regarded as the largest diplomatic event in Israeli history, hosting (among others) the Prince of Wales, President Emmanuel Macron, Vice President Mike Pence and President Vladimir Putin. This lack of coverage occurred despite the fact that both outlets have regular correspondents in Israel, and typically take Israeli diplomacy extremely seriously (each dedicating at least seven items to the meeting between Netanyahu and Sundan’s leader al-Burhan, for instance.)
In contrast, all other Arabic-speaking media outlets working under a Western brand name and/or a Western government had at least one news item dedicated to the conference and its speeches: AFP (see image), France24, CNN, BBC, Reuters, DW, and al-Hurra. (For the record, The Independent and Sky News in English covered the events as well.)
Admittedly, Sky News Arabia reported on several incidents happening on the fringes of this important conference: VP Pence telling Israel’s PM Netanyahu that President Donald Trump is “unstoppable”; President Macron arguing with Israeli officers in Old Jerusalem and the Prince of Wales visiting the tomb of his grandmother, also in Jerusalem. In the cases of Pence and the Prince, the network even mentioned that the incidents occurred in the context of the leaders’ participation in the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem.
In comparison, on the website of Independent Arabia we could only find a single indication that the conference took place – in a January 29th report, IA’s Israel correspondent, Amal Shehadeh, briefly mentioned the Forum while quoting Israeli politician Efraim Sneh’s speech against Donald Trump’s peace plan:
“Most of the international community support the [two-state] solution, including the leaders who came to Jerusalem on Holocaust Memorial Day”.
Like other cases we’ve carefully documented before, this one also shows how Sky News and The Independent do not hold their Arabic-speaking subsidiaries to serious journalistic standards, certainly not those the English outlets presumably adhere. Noteworthy is the fact that both outlets have publicly declared they would do so: Sky News said as much when it included Sky News Arabia’s website link at its Code of Conduct webpage; The Independent, meanwhile, explicitly stated the following, whilst launching Independent Arabia:
“All editorial practices and output will conform to the world-renowned standards, code of conduct and established ethos of The Independent.”
- AP, Times of Israel amend language on PFLP terror group (CAMERA)
- Reviewing BBC News website coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan (BBC Watch)
- Independent Arabia claims ‘Hebrew is a branch of Arabic’ (UK Media Watch)