Sky News Arabia serves as Emirates’ mouthpiece in coverage of Israel-UAE peace

Sky News Arabia (SNA), a jointly owned American-Emirati news outlet that carries a Western brand name and operates from the Gulf, is often at the center of CAMERA Arabic’s media criticism.

We’ve repeatedly demonstrated that in SNA’s case, this particular model of ownership and operation fails to meet minimal Western journalistic standards. To wit, the station’s self proclaimed impartiality and accuracy are heavily compromised in a way that would have severely stained Sky and Comcast’s reputations among the latter’s shareholders had it been speaking English instead of Arabic (which, more often than not, they do not understand).

To further make the point, just last Wednesday SNA referred once more to the Gaza Envelope Jewish communities, all located inside Israel’s pre-67 lines, as “settlements”.

Unsurprisingly, on occasions when Abu Dhabi is somehow singled out from other Gulf states, SNA’s pro-Emirati tendencies are unusually evident even against the background of its own “counterparts”, i.e. media outlets controlled by neighboring monarchs but which nevertheless maintain a Western façade.

For instance, contrary to what one might expect, SNA’s news coverage did not always resemble that of Independent Arabia (IA) – yet another supposedly Western website that is likewise entangled in Gulf interests, Saudi this time, again in a way that compromises its commitment to journalistic ethics.

Specifically, the rivalry in Yemen between the separatist, UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council and the Saudi-backed Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi displayed considerable divergence between SNA’s reporting and that of IA. 

Last Thursday’s joint declaration of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, setting the stage for establishing “normal relations” between the two countries, was also an instance where SNA took a rare position of dissent compared to other Western and/or Gulf-oriented media outlets, hence proving where its loyalties lie.

Seizing the opportunity to function as the Emirates’ mouthpiece to Arabic-speaking audiences, rather than a reliable source of news about the country it is headquartered in, it released a peculiar main headline as soon as the deal was unveiled on August 13th.

Beneath the pictures of the Emirati, American and Israeli leaders, it read:

“A Triliteral Phone Communication Stops Israeli Annexation of Palestinian Lands”

In comparison, these are the headlines other major Arabic speaking Western outlets, describing the very same event:

Independent Arabia: “An Emirati-Israeli Peace Agreement under American Aegis, in Exchange for Halting the Annexation of the [West] Bank”

BBC Arabic: “The Emirates and Israel Agree upon Establishing Official Relations”

Reuters Arabic: “Israel and the Emirates Agree to Normalize Relations, Shifting Political Landscape in the Region”

AFP/France24 Arabic: “A ‘Historical’ Agreement of Normalizing Relations between the Emirates and Israel”

EuroNews Arabic (has major offices in Abu Dhabi): “Trump: A ‘Historical’ Agreement Concerning Normalizing Relations Between the United Arab Emirates and Israel”

Deutsche Welle Arabic: “The Emirates and Israel Announce the Normalization of their relations, under Trump’s Aegis”

CNN Arabic (has major offices in Dubai): “A Joint Statement: the Emirates and Israel Agree upon Full Normalization between them”

Al-Hurra:“ِA Historical Peace Agreement between the Emirates and Israel”

Clearly, the complete absence of the words “peace”, “agreement” and “normalization” from the SNA headline (they are not easy to come by in most of the station’s reports on the subject either, unlike the other outlets) is anything but coincidental.

This phrasing is meant to portray Emirati strongman and heir apparent Muhammad Bin Za’id An-Nahyan as a champion of the Palestinian cause, all while downplaying the mutual aspects of the joint statement, as if it was merely a phone call with the Abu Dhabi prince which brought Israel’s Netanyahu to halt his annexation plans.

Research and writing by CAMERA Arabic. Edited by CAMERA UK.

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