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Annual Review 2002/2003
 
 
A year in review
BBC Arabic


From the outbreak of military action in Iraq on 20 March 2003, the BBC Arabic Service began broadcasting rolling news and analysis round the clock to its global audience of Arabic-speaking listeners
 
Presented from London and the new media centre in Cairo, the Arabic service produced an extra 13 hours of news and current affairs output every day. The broadcasts carried live set-piece events, including statements and press conferences by US President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and senior Iraqi ministers, together with Security Council debates and military briefings.
 
In addition to hourly news bulletins, an extensive network of reporters – based in Baghdad, Arbil in the Kurdish zone in northern Iraq, Kuwait, Amman, Riyadh, Istanbul and Tehran – were able to provide regular live updates as well as reflecting the diversity of Arab views about the conflict.
 
As the war progressed, presenters and technical support staff were deployed from Cairo to other capitals in the region.
 
Reporting from Baghdad was particularly demanding for correspondents from the BBC Arabic Service. Iraqi reporter Sobhy Haddad was based in Baghdad and was first to report the opening bombardment around the capital. He and his Jordanian colleague, Sa’ad Hattar, continued filing their reports despite the dangers.
 
In addition to its reporters in the region and London, the BBC Arabic Service was able to utilise the specialist skills, knowledge and analysis of the BBC’s defence and diplomatic correspondents, plus its news reporters in Washington, Moscow and other European capitals to provide depth, context and global opinion.
 


The BBCArabic.com website recorded a massive increase in traffic at the start of the conflict. On 20 March 2003, page impressions reached an unprecedented one million milestone within a 24-hour period
 
The BBCArabic.com website recorded a massive increase in traffic at the start of the conflict. On 20 March 2003, page impressions reached an unprecedented one million milestone within a 24-hour period. Audiences were also able to air their views about the war live on the popular, twice-daily debate programme Nuqtat Hewar, hosted by Hosam El Sokkari, the Head of BBCArabic.com. Interactive forums have been an important and distinctive way of capturing a wide range of views from across the Muslim and Arabic-speaking world about the conflict. Emails, too, offered a valuable insight into audience reaction to our radio programmes and online sites.
 
This year, delivery has been improved across the Arabic-speaking world. Additional short wave frequencies have been introduced into North Africa and the Gulf area, while medium wave transmissions have also been boosted. An additional FM station, set up in northern Jordan, can be heard in Israel and as far north as Damascus in Syria. It supplements FM coverage from Amman. BBC Arabic is also available on FM in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar and in Khartoum and Wad Madani in Sudan. BBC Arabic and BBC World Service in English have been made available on several satellite stations’ audio channels, including Nilesat, Arabsat, Orbit and Worldspace, and local stations are also rebroadcasting programmes.
 
As seismic shifts occur in the geopolitical landscape and international diplomacy reacts to dramatic and fast changes in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, the thirst for reliable, authoritative and impartial news and information remains at an all time high. The World Service remains committed to bringing insightful news and topical features and debate in Arabic and English.
 
A year in review
BBC Arabic
 
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