Turkey uses the telly to woo the Arab World

Turkey uses the telly to woo the Arab World. (REUTERS)

After using enhanced diplomacy and trade to bolster ties with Middle Eastern neighbours, Turkey now has a new weapon to seduce the Arab World: a state television channel in Arabic accesible to more than 300 million Arabic speakers.

Launched on Sunday, TRT El Turkiye became the second 24-hour channel broadcasting in a language other than Turkish, following the introduction of a Kurdish-language channel last year.

According to state broadcaster TRT, the channel is the first one to address an essentially international audience, broadcasting to 22 countries via satellite.

For Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of secular Turkey's Islamist-rooted government, the channel has clear objectives.

"Turks and Arabs are like the fingers of a hand," he said in his speech. "We belong in the same history, the same culture and above all the same civilisation... TRT El Turkiye was launched to become our common language, or common screen, our common passion."

But the channel could find it difficult to make a dent in the already saturated Arab television market.


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