More about our work in the Middle East and North Africa
Middle East & North Africa
The BBC World Service Trust's work in the Middle East and North Africa spans many diverse areas of media output, including radio, television, print and online. We focus on supporting aspiring media professionals, the profession and their organisations to produce compelling output of the highest international standard.
- Organising media events and networking opportunities
- Technical support
- Infrastructure development.
From a handful of state-owned media outlets to a multiplicity of new satellite channels and FM radio stations, the media industry has changed drastically in less than a decade in the Arab world.
State broadcasters may retain control over terrestrial broadcasting but audiences move freely from one news provider to another via the increasing use of satellite receivers.
In the Middle East and North Africa, just like the rest of the world, the fundamentals of the news business are shifting and access to modern technology will ultimately contribute to redefining the relationship between the State and citizens.
Ministries of Information in the Arab world are acutely aware of the challenges of an environment in which the individual is gaining command over the information he/she wants to consume and state broadcasters are increasingly recognising the urgent need to (re)build trust with the public.
Promoting change in media standards and practice is a long-term process. As the Supervisor of Training at Egyptian Broadcaster, ERTU put it, "When you put a seed in the earth you don't expect a tree after one week."
However, our programmes in the Middle East have set in train a number of significant changes in skills and attitudes to journalism in the Arab world and whetted the appetite for change.
- An expanding labour force will require the creation of some 100 million new jobs in the next two decades
- New entrants are increasingly educated, young and female
- Unemployment is at 15.1%
- Unemployment rates are higher for young entrants with intermediate and higher education
- Literacy levels for women across the region are low - in Morocco, Algeria and Egypt more than 40% of women are illiterate
- Climate Change is a priority for a region facing desertification, losses of arable land and extreme flooding.
- Social taboo on public debate about sexually transmitted diseases and in particular AIDS
- Satellite channels grew at a rate of 28% between April and October 2006 to a total of 263 channels
- Internet growth has risen by 370% resulting in 19 million users - nearly 10% of the population
- Mobile phones have grown at an annual rate of 52% since 2005
Designed to bring together journalists from across the Arab World, the Media Dialogue Programme organised a series of symposia convened in Beirut, Damascus, Cairo and Rabat. Some of the region's most well-known media personalities as well as government and oppositional representatives, human rights activists, NGOs and journalists came together to debate issues around the role of the media in the Arab world, media and democracy and the ideal of a free press.
We also ran workshops with editors and journalists to produce some of the first formal Style and Editorial Guidelines for media organisations in the region, including Al-Rai, the leading daily newspaper in Jordan, and ERTU in Egypt.
Creation of a Media Dialogue website www.bbcdialogue.co.uk
providing access for the Arab media to useful resources such as an Arabic journalism handbook and a database of Arab and non-Arab trainers.
A two-year partnership with Egypt's state broadcaster, Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) to help reform editorial procedures and upgrade their approach to news and currents affairs, which embraced a complete re-launch of the Channel One flagship news programme.
In Iraq, the BBC World Service Trust built Al-Mirbad - a television and radio station based in Basra
serving the South of the country. It is to date our biggest media reconstruction project. Launched in the summer of 2005 and run by Iraqis for Iraqis, it allows the community it serves to participate in the process of post-war reconstruction of Iraq. More
From 2005-2007 we ran a number of projects with Iraqi journalists, including elections reporting training leading up to the 2005 elections.
In 2007, we partnered with Albany Associates and IREX Europe to deliver a wide-ranging project that addressed the regulatory framework, the state of the media scene in Iraq,
journalistic ethics, and access to information. MoreLebanon
A pioneering training programme in Lebanon which brought together participants from four local television stations, each of which had different political affiliations and editorial perspectives.
An ambitious training programme in partnership with the state Societe Nationale de Radio-diffusion et de Television in Morocco for nearly 200 journalists working in the news division. In order to encourage connectivity with audiences, weekly audience panels were organised. These spaces were unprecedented and a revelation for most of the journalists who had had few previous opportunities to debate issues with their audience.
Cooperation with private online media organisation, Syria-news.com to train and mentor journalists, including use of the BBC World Service Trust's innovative online iLearn
system tailored specifically for Arab media professionals.