MBC: 25 years of enlightenment

The years have passed quickly since the launch of MBC TV, but it has not been an easy journey. It was no ordinary TV station, and its aim was not just to be an entertainment channel or make a profit. There was a higher goal when Sheikh Walid al-Ibrahim founded it. This is why it was quickly targeted by those who oppose modernization, enlightenment and progress.

Since its launch from London, its founder has been respected and appreciated by Arab media personalities and intellectuals, because he defied prohibitions and dared to cross boundaries. Now, after 25 years of the MBC phenomenon, can we say the aspired change has been achieved? Yes and no.

MBC has led the change, supported modernization and improved our world. Even those fighting it as an idea and institution acknowledge that it has achieved change, but they complain that it is for the worse. This is a testimony in favor of the venerable institution, not against it. MBC has taken Arab media from the stone age to a more civilized, wider space.

It is a liberal and civilized window in an underdeveloped Arab world that has closed in on itself. It is proof that in Saudi Arabia, which is accused of extremism and backwardness, there are institutions and individuals that lead active roles in enlightenment, change and peace in the Middle East. Those who visit MBC’s headquarters in Dubai will read at the entrance a beautiful phrase: “We see hope everywhere.” This is what we need: hope in a better future.

MBC has taken Arab media from the stone age to a more civilized, wider space. It is a liberal and civilized window in an underdeveloped Arab world that has closed in on itself

Abdulrahman al-Rashed


The Arab world is struggling and suffering. MBC’s success in reaching millions of Arabs via TV broadcasts that are supposedly out of the ordinary have woken up those who reject change. When they realized they were unable to stop it from London due to satellite dishes, they engaged in a broadcasting battle after warning those who watch TV that they would go to hell, and threatened to destroy satellite dishes.

To confront this civilized institution, institutions that aim to obstruct progress emerged, including many TV stations that promoted social backwardness, political violence and extremist religious ideology. In these 25 years, we have lived through and witnessed huge battles between progress and backwardness.

Those who reject development realized the threat of the channel and the institution, and of modern ideas and modern media, so they decided to confront them. They have partially succeeded in slowing the train, and enabled extremists to open TV channels that compete for the management of the minds of 300 million Arabs.

They have caused major abnormalities in the Arab world and the entire world, giving birth to terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They enhanced the influence of groups that try to impose their social model and stop progress.


However, we know from history that it is impossible to stop its wheel. They can only temporarily obstruct it. Change is one of God’s laws, and will reach our region due to MBC and similar institutions.

MBC has presented humanitarian models of life that are out of the ordinary. It brought relations between nations and civilizations closer, supported loving homelands to confront internationalists and fascists via satire, diminished the sanctity of those who impose themselves as an authority to punish society when it opposes them, and defied them by presenting alternatives through series, shows, dialogue, and creative characters and ideas.

We must thank Ibrahim for 25 years of development and renewal. We also thank the huge army of creative people who have presented a distinguished, artistic and intellectual model. With such an institution, we can look forward to a better future.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 21, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49
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