The New Arab at 7: Unfiltered journalism from MENA and Beyond
This article is one in a series to celebrate The New Arab's website relaunch. To read the others in the series click here.
As the entire world was fixated on the Arab uprisings of 2011, those living in the region discovered a sinister side to their countries' dominant media outlets.
In Egypt, while security forces battered unarmed activists, people at home turned on their national television to see shots of the Nile River flowing calmly set to hypnotic elevator music.
As armoured vehicles rammed into demonstrators, regime-appointed clerics made appearances urging the faithful to pray for the preservation of the dictator.
This story has repeated itself across many Arab countries since then. Given the common features of Arab regimes, media outlets in those countries had many self-serving interests - none of which were to tell truth to power, or to their people.
In their vain attempt to stop the spread of the Arab Spring and manufacture consent for their crackdown, regime media across the region not only withheld coverage of the protests but also went on to demonise all dissidents and fabricate ludicrous conspiracy theories about them.
Would it be fathomable today, for any credible media outlet in the UK to have a presenter tell Britons of an opposition party plan to sell off national monuments and send them via rockets to another country? Would the Archbishop of Canterbury enthusiastically (and literally) tell the public that subservience to a dictator is a good thing and that even if he were to kill a third of the population?
More importantly, would there be acceptance within the media community of any journalist producing such appalling propaganda? Yet this is precisely what has happened in many authoritarian Arab countries.
"Independent and committed to delivering unfiltered journalism to our audiences, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has stood with the people of the region and their human rights, and has relayed their aspirations to the world"
Western media outlets may have picked up on how regimes in the region abuse the mission and remit of their media, but they have not covered the true depth of the gaslighting that has taken place in the Arab world, years before "fake news", "post-truth", and "alternative facts" reared their ugly heads in the West.
The mass manipulation went far beyond crudely doctored images to reposition heads of state next to prominent world leaders; beyond sniggering western journalists tweeting clips of compliant Arab TV hosts, disinformation was deployed on an industrial scale in the Middle East and North Africa, engineered by the region's authoritarian regimes and aided and abetted by big western tech companies.
Some established western outlets went further: seeing a financial opportunity to franchise their brands to dubious holding companies in Arab countries, they became complicit in lending an air of credibility to this disinformation and handing a lifeline to propagandists who had been rapidly running out of ideas.
Tech companies saw billions of dollars put behind state-run troll armies and stayed silent as hundreds of thousands of fake users created trends and character assassinations on their platforms.
With this dismal state of the Arab media landscape in mind, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and its English-language edition The New Arab were founded.
Their mission: Providing Arab and international audiences with an independent source of information about the region that cuts through the flow of regime-dictated information, and complicit media output.
Championing a progressive editorial line, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and The New Arab were immediately attacked and vilified by those threatened by their integrity and mission.
Even outlets like the BBC repeated regurgitated, untrue and vexatious claims about us. Yet after 7 years, we are one of the strongest and most respected MENA news outlets with millions of monthly readers across our platforms.
Independent and committed to delivering unfiltered journalism to our audiences, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has stood with the people of the region and their human rights and has relayed their aspirations to the world.
Publishing in English, The New Arab has aimed to do the same with a global audience and show the world what is happening in the region with objective and balanced coverage.
"The New Arab Mission: Providing Arab and international audiences with an independent source of information about the region"
As we relaunch this month, we build on a website that has become an indispensable source of information for millions across the world.
We are also expanding internationally to cover what Arab communities around the world are doing and the roles they are playing in their societies.
We invite you to continue to read, share and engage with our vital journalism, as we cover a region still going through momentous change.
Abdulrahman Elshayyal is the CEO of Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Follow him on Twitter: @abdulondon
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