Sky News, the UK-based 24-hour news channel, is currently in talks to establish a bureau in the Middle East. The race seems to be heating up with Dubai and Doha emerging as the top contenders but the final decision has yet to be made.
Emirates Business met with Adrian Wells, Sky News Head of Foreign News, who said both cities were strong in their own right, with Dubai being an international powerhouse, while Doha was fast emerging as a central force in the region. “Our main office in the region is currently in Jerusalem, and keeping in mind its limitations in this region, it was only natural for us expand into the Arabian Gulf,” he said.
Tim Marshall, the Foreign Affairs Editor for Sky News, said the international perception of Dubai was growing more powerful every day and it was only natural to see major news networks setting up offices in the city.
But when quizzed about media sensitivity in the Middle East, Marshall said: “Why just pick on one particular region? Media has to cross a thin line in every single country and sometimes step on the toes of important people. Doors are unlocked with time and the media in this region has to push them wide open; it’s just a gradual process.”
A Sky News Arabia channel would seem like a natural progression, but any immediate plans of launching such a channel were shot down by Wells. He said: “We haven’t gone the same route as BBC, which recently launched their Arabia feed. We currently don’t even feel the need to have an international feed because what we report is so diversified in content.”
Wells, a seasoned journalist himself, is not new to the region with his travels taking him to Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Talking about his return to the war-torn country after Saddam’s fall from power, Wells said that it still needs time to recover from its current state.
While refraining from commenting on the US-led war on terrorism, he said: “The irony is, when I was based in Iraq during Saddam’s reign, as a Westerner it was easier for me to travel around the country.”
Marshall added Iraq would need at least another 20 years to get back on track and find some semblance of security. “The people of Iraq are caught up in a situation that emerged post 9/11. Whoever opposed the US at the time got knocked down.”
About US elections, Marshall seems hesitant to pick a side. “The race is wide open. But Americans need a hero and in that aspect McCain is certainly the most powerful.”
Sky News launched in February 1989, the same year as the Tiananmen Square massacre and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
As the UK’s first 24-hour television news channel, Sky News has built a reputation for being the first to break major news and has won more awards since its launch than any other British news channel.
Breaking news: Qatar and UAE in race for Sky bureau