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BBC Arabic


BBC Arabic

BBC Arabic may refer to the Literary Arabic language radio station run by the BBC World Service, as well as the BBC's satellite TV channel, and the website that serves as an Literary Arabic language news portal and provides online access to both the TV and radio broadcasts.

The radio service is broadcast from Broadcasting House in London as well as from a BBC Bureau in Cairo. The target audience is the Middle East and North Africa.


  • History 1
    • Origins 1.1
    • Early Programing 1.2
    • Key Figures 1.3
      • First Organizer 1.3.1
      • First Editors 1.3.2
      • Director Near Eastern Services 1.3.3
      • Director Eastern Services 1.3.4
      • Head Eastern Services 1.3.5
      • Head Eastern Service 1.3.6
      • Head Arabic Service 1.3.7
  • Programming 2
    • Radio Broadcasts 2.1
    • Television programs 2.2
  • Television 3
  • Web 4
  • Phone 5
  • Further reading 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8



In 1936, the BBC helped the British Colonial Office set up the Palestine Broadcasting Service in Jerusalem, a medium wave radio broadcast. This was created as a way to broadcast British views to the Arab world. This was partly in response to the Italian Literary Arabic language radio broadcasts that were transmitted by medium wave from Bari, and also in short wave from Rome, beginning in 1934. After the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, these broadcasts became strongly anti-British.[1]

In the years leading up to the 1938 establishment of the BBC Literary Arabic language service, there were plans by the British Foreign Office to set up radio broadcasts based in Cyprus.[2][3] Cyprus at the time was a Crown Colony in the British Empire, and seen as more stable than Palestine, a British Mandate.[4] Also during this time, the BBC was insistent that its established news standards not be compromised in the name of broadcasting Arabic-language British propaganda.[3][5]

In 1938, 16 years after the British Broadcasting Corporation was founded, the BBC began broadcasting in Literary Arabic.[3][6][7] BBC Arabic is considered one of the oldest and longest running foreign-language news services.[6]

Early Programing

The BBC Arabic service started in 1938 as 65 minute broadcasts. In 1940 the broadcasts had grown to 1 hour and 25 minutes, and close to two hours by 1942.[7] By the end of World War II, the Literary Arabic language program was three hours.[7]

The first broadcasts in 1938 featured one news bulletin. Later, by 1940, a second news bulletin followed the morning reading of the Quran.[7] In 1942 a third news bulletin was broadcast at "midday" at 10:45 GMT, 12:45 local time in the Levant. While the news bulletins were essentially translations of the BBC's English-language Empire Service, BBC London was in direct contact with the Foreign Office's diplomatic posts abroad as a source if local news.[7] In 1943 the Literary Arabic Service established a Cairo Office, enabling direct news gathering in the Middle East.[8]

Key Figures

First Organizer

  • Steward Perowne (1938–39)

First Editors

  • A. S. Calvert (1938)
  • Donald Stephenson (from 1939)

Director Near Eastern Services

  • Sigmar Hillelson (from 1940)

Director Eastern Services

  • Donald Stephenson (from 1945)

Head Eastern Services

  • Charles Pennethorne Hughes (from 1948)

Head Eastern Service

  • Gordon Waterfeield (from 1949)

Head Arabic Service

  • Gordon Waterfield (from 1959)
  • James Thomson (from 196)
  • Charles McLelland (from 1971)
  • Hamilton Duckworth (from 1976)
  • Eric Bowman (from 1981)
  • James Norris (from 1986)
  • Bob Jobbins (from 1988)


BBC Arabic broadcasts programs and hourly news bulletins 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. [9]

Radio Broadcasts

  • Hadeeth as-Saa'a (Hourly Updates)[10]
  • Tahqeeq (Investigation)[10]
  • BBC Xtra (Daily program)[10]

Television programs

  • 'Alimna (Our World)[10]
  • 4 Tech (Technology Program)[10]
  • Sa'at Hisaab (Tunisia two months after the revolution)[10]
  • Saba'at Ayyam (Seven Days)[10]
  • Hasaad al-Yowm (Today's Harvest, news round-up)[10]
  • Al-Ahamm wa al-Muhimm (The Most Important and the Important)[10]
  • Barnamaj liqaa' (Interview Program)[10]


The BBC launched an Arabic-language satellite channel on 11 March 2008.


BBC Arabic radio and television both use the BBC Arabic website as an online news portal. The website facilitates online access to the other two broadcasts.


A live stream of BBC Arabic is available to listeners in the US by calling 712-432-7877.

Further reading

  • Partner, Peter (1988) Arab Voices: The BBC Arabic Service 1938-1988. London: British Broadcasting Corporation.


  1. ^ Partner, Peter (1988). Arab Voices: The BBC Arabic Service 1938-1988. London: British Broadcasting Corporation. p. 5.  
  2. ^ Muhammad I. Ayish (2008). The New Arab Public Sphere. Frank & Timme GmbH. p. 110.  
  3. ^ a b c "The 1930s". BBC World Service | FAQ. BBC. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Partner, Peter (1988). Arab Voices: The BBC Arabic Service 1938-1988. London: British Broadcasting Corporation. p. 6.  
  5. ^ Partner, Peter (1988). Arab Voices: The BBC Arabic Service 1938-1988. London: British Broadcasting Corporation. pp. 1–16.  
  6. ^ a b Barkho, Leon (2010). News from the BBC, CNN, and Al-Jazeera. Cresskill, New Jersey: Hampton Press, Inc. p. 129.  
  7. ^ a b c d e Partner, Peter (1988). Arab Voices: The BBC Arabic Service 1938-1988. London: British Broadcasting Corporation. p. 57.  
  8. ^ Partner, Peter (1988). Arab Voices: The BBC Arabic Service 1938-1988. London: British Broadcasting Corporation. p. 58.  
  9. ^ "Radio Schedule". BBC Arabic News. BBC. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "TV and Radio". BBC Arabic. BBC. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 

External links

  • BBC Arabic at BBC Online
  • BBC Arabic Listen Online
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