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, Saad 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
BBCs 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.