Hisham Melhem: Why the ‘Arab street’ counts in the U.S.

Inside the Newsroom: Al Arabiya’s bureau chief in Washington, DC on why Middle East public opinion matters

Ben Flanagan
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Politicians in the U.S. woke up to the importance of Arab public opinion after 9/11 – and there is now “tremendous interest” in regional sentiment, according to the Al Arabiya News Channel’s bureau chief in Washington, DC.

Hisham Melhem says lawmakers and members of Congress are keen to get their point-of-view across via media channels like Al Arabiya.


The Arab Spring also helped boost interest in the ‘Arab street’ within the U.S., Melhem told Inside the Newsroom.

“After 9/11 American politicians, members of Congress... became interested in the Arab public opinion; they discovered that there is such a thing called Arab public opinion,” said Melhem.

“It was in their own interest to reach out to this public opinion through us and other Arab media.”

Melhem has lived in the U.S. since 1972, and has interviewed many public figures including Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

He says U.S. media coverage of the Middle East has become “much better [and] more nuanced” in the wake of the Arab Spring.

“The American media in general did a very good job. It was professional, it was objective... we didn't see most of the old stereotypes about the Arabs,” he said.

Scroll up to watch the full interview with Hisham Melhem


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