Reasoning: Poor Sourcing, Propaganda
Country: Saudi Arabia
World Press Freedom Rank: Saudi Arabia 170/180
Launched in 2004, Al Arabiya is the official website for the TV station Al Arabiya and is based in Dubai. Al Arabiya features 24-hour digital news, business, entertainment, lifestyle, sports, and more.
Currently, Mohammed Khalid Alyahya is the editor-in-chief.
Funded by / Ownership
Al Arabiya is owned by the Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), which also owns satellite TV channels. According to Reuters, in 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a corruption operation and acquired 60% of founder Waleed al-Ibrahim’s shares of the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC). Al Ibrahim retained 40% of his shares and his capacity as chairman. The Financial Times reports that this crackdown “hints that Prince Mohammed is tightening the government’s grip on the media”.
Analysis / Bias
In 2020 Reporters Without Borders ranked Saudi Arabia 170/180 in their Press Freedom Index, stating that “Saudi Arabia permits no independent media. The authorities keep Saudi journalists under close surveillance, even when they are abroad, as Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in Istanbul in October 2018 illustrated.”
Read our profile on Saudi Arabia’s media and government.
According to a BBC profile on Saudi Arabia’s media “Criticism of the government and royal family and the questioning of Islamic tenets are not generally tolerated. Self-censorship is pervasive.”
In review, Al Arabiya publishes articles with strong emotionally loaded language such as “Troublemaker vs. Superpower: Iran’s absurd claim of power equivalence with US.” Al Arabia reports selectively when the issue doesn’t resonate with the King. For example, when reporting on Trump’s statement regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, they published only the part of the speech where it doesn’t offend Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On issues such as women’s rights, Al Arabiya reports with a pro-reform stance “How Saudi Arabia has increased female employment, and why the country benefits.”
When it comes to sourcing, Al Arabiya often hyperlinks to itself and republishes news from Reuters. Al Arabiya also utilizes credible sources such as weforum.org, and uchicago.edu. When covering world news, pertaining to the USA, they cover the Trump administration with a positive tone “Ivanka Trump praises progress made by Saudi Arabia in gender equality”. In general, the news that is presented is factual, however, it is heavily censored by the government to not portray Saudi Arabia and especially the Crown Prince in a negative light. Therefore, we rate them a very strong propaganda source.
Failed Fact Checks
- There is no record of Al Arabiya being fact-checked.
Overall, we rate Al Arabiya Questionable due to excessive government censorship that results in the publication of pro-state propaganda. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to the omission of key facts in stories. (8/16/2016) Updated (M. Huitsing 6/3/2020)