Alhurra, the Arabic-language television network, celebrates the one-year anniversary of its flagship program Al Youm (Arabic for Today) on Monday, March 8, 2010. Al Youm which has been heralded for broadcasting simultaneously from five countries in three continents brings together all areas of the Middle East (the Gulf, North Africa and the Levant) and the U.S. This allows viewers to see how issues not only affect the people in their country, but those who live in the countries around them. During the week of its anniversary, Al Youm will examine the impact of terrorism in the Middle East and the U.S., including an examination of whether or not Yemen has become the new staging ground for Al Qaeda and the use social networking sites for terrorist recruitment efforts. Other themes on Al Youm have included the global economic crisis, the impact of the Internet, child labor laws and cultural diversity and development.
In its first year on the air, Al Youm anchor Engy Anwar became one of the first women to broadcast live from the Hajj. The program also made its mark following President Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world, when it provided non-stop coverage including reaction from throughout the Middle East, the U.S. and Asia. The daily three-hour program reports on stories not commonly seen on the other Arabic-language networks such as the father of a Palestinian child who died in a car accident and decided to give his son’s organs to both Jewish and Arab children; a three-part series on illegal organ trading in Egypt; or the plight of Sudanese refugees living in Lebanon. Al Youm reflects society as a whole and brings stories to light that might not have been reported.
“The first year of Al Youm exceeded all of our expectations. The audience has responded to the human interest stories, talking about families, children and health. These are the stories that impact the everyday lives of our viewers,” stated Al Youm Executive Producer Fran Mires.
Reaction to Al Youm in the press has also been positive. El Bashayer’s article “Al Youm on Alhurra: More Boldness, More Excitement” stated that the program is unique since it comes from five different cities and that it is attracting more viewers everyday. Popular pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat also commented, “The most distinctive feature of (Al Youm) is that it addresses all segments of the audience, and satisfies their desires by covering various interests. This will attract different audiences and bring them together, which will result in more viewership for the channel.”
Located in Dubai’s Media City, Al Youm is co-anchored by Engy Anwar and Ahmed El Naggar, who are joined by Mona Wehbi in Beirut, Amr Khalil in Cairo and Eman Haddad in Jerusalem, along with news updates from Alhurra’s headquarters outside of Washington, D.C. Viewers can follow Al Youm on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Alyoumshow or watch Al Youm at www.alhurra.com.
Surveys of the Middle East by research companies such as ACNielsen show that Alhurra has a weekly reach of an estimated 27.7 million adults. Alhurra is broadcast on the Nilesat and Arabsat satellites in the Middle East and the Hotbird satellite system in Europe. Alhurra is operated by the non-profit corporation “The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc.” (MBN). MBN is financed by the U.S. Government through a grant from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an independent federal agency. The BBG serves oversight and as a firewall to protect the professional independence and integrity of the broadcasters. For more information on Alhurra go to www.alhurra.com
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