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The Al Jazeera Breakthrough

The creation of a brand new broadcasting channel in a volatile region was a huge breakthrough. But can Al Jazeera successfully walk the tightrope between commercial success and political independence?

“When we talk about the idea, when it started, we don’t have solid proof of who was the first to think of Al Jazeera. When you have a success story, everybody claims that it was his idea. […] So I don’t know for 100 per cent whose idea was this. So it might be the Emir himself, of the country. And many people believe that it was his idea or at least he was thinking along these lines. Other people think it was some of his advisers, executives in the media industry here who thought about something like this and then it moved until it got to the Emir and the Emir adopted the idea. He liked the idea and went along with it. […] Many people now when they look into the history of media in the Arab world, they think about before Al Jazeera and after Al Jazeera.” —Dr. Mostefa Souag “The present Arab Spring would not have happened if Al Jazeera hadn’t been there. If Al Jazeera hadn’t been there, it would have happened eighteen years later from the moment we are living in. Eighteen years. It is this age of Al Jazeera which we have to use as a yardstick to measure the impact of free media on the Arab world.” —Ahmed Sheikh

An extract from The Al Jazeera Breakthrough, with John Groffen, Mostefa Souag, Ahmed Sheikh and others in Breakthrough: From Innovation to Impact, Volume 1.

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