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Qatar announces London-based rival to Al Jazeera

The Emir of Qatar on Monday announced plans for a new television station to serve as a counterweight to its global broadcaster Al Jazeera.

The Arabic language service, called Al Arabi, will be based in London and distributed across the Arab world, under the patronage of the young Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, reports The National. 

Palestinian Azmi Bashara, who served as member of Israel’s Knesset before fleeing in 2007 under accusations of treason, will head-up the new channel.

Bashara is currently director of the Doha-based Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies, and is said to be a close advisor of the emir.

The move follows the diplomatic split with Qatar by fellow Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain who withdrew their ambassadors from Doha in March.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, and have criticised the airtime given to the group by Al Jazeera and the alleged political support it received from Qatar during the Arab uprisings.