Qatar’s Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told reporters on Wednesday that he fears a “diplomatic problem” if he did not allow Al Arabiya television correspondent to ask his question during a press conference that was held in Doha.
“Very briefly, Al Arabiya; so there won’t be a problem later. Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, I am afraid of a diplomatic problem, Mr. Secretary General.”
Al-Thani was speaking during a joint press conference with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in the Qatari capital, Doha.
Al Jazeera is owned by Qatar’s royal family and is a rival of the pan-Arab Al Arabiya television channel, which is part of the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC). Its chairman is Saudi businessman Sheikh Waleed Al Ibrahim. MBC is the first private free-to-air satellite broadcasting in the Arab World.
In a 2008 profile of Al Arabiya, The New York Times wrote that the channel was meant to “cure Arab television of its penchant for radical politics and violence."
Al Arabiya was established in 2003 at a time when Al Jazeera was broadcasting video tapes of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.