BBC Arabic expands presence in the Middle East

The availability of the BBC’s multimedia service for the Arab world has further expanded across the Middle East thanks to the launch of mobile-phone partnerships in the Palestinian territories, Oman and Jordan.

In addition to the availability of BBC Arabic on television, radio and online, international news seekers in these territories can now access the BBC Arabic content via their mobile phones. Subscribers to Al Jawwal – the operator in the West Bank and Gaza – can now receive SMS messages with top news stories from BBC Arabic.

A first for the BBC in this territory, the service will keep Al Jawwal subscribers up-to-date with breaking news direct from the BBC via short and easy-to-read messages.

This complements the availability of the BBC Arabic content in the Palestinian territories via BBC relays in Gaza (107.4 FM), Ramallah (98.8 FM) and Hebron (108 FM) as well as on the partner FM station, Radio Bethlehem 2000.

In Oman, users of the mobile-phone operator, Nawras, can now receive the BBC’s breaking news alerts on their phones – in Arabic as well as in English, from the English-language news site,

The BBC’s SMS service via Nawras adds to the existing arrangement with the country’s other mobile phone operator, Omantel, which means all mobile phone users in Oman can now receive the BBC’s breaking-news alerts.

The latest news from BBC Arabic is available not just on mobile phones but also on PDAs and other wireless handheld devices in the region. In a recent business development, the BBC has secured WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) links with two of Jordan’s mobile-phone operators, Zain and Xpress.

In addition to the existing offer of SMS messages with top news stories from BBC Arabic, these two operators now offer their subscribers the BBC’s WAP sites – mobile versions of news websites – designed specifically for wireless devices. Easy to use, they include full text of the story and images, allowing users to keep abreast of the world developments at all times.

Availability via Zain and Xpress mobile phone systems complement the BBC Arabic presence in Jordan on radio via BBC FM relay stations – BBC 103.1 FM in Amman and BBC 89.1 FM in Ajloun. BBC Arabic television is freely available to everyone with a satellite or cable connection in the region, be it the Middle East, Gulf or North Africa.

Head of BBC Arabic, Hosam El Sokkari, says: “We are very happy that we can respond to our audience needs of getting news as it happens.Our audiences have embraced the new technologies, and they are expecting BBC Arabic to continue to serve them on all new platforms.The launch of BBC Arabic television and our expansion into the mobile market demonstrate the BBC’s commitment to the region.”

Simon Kendall, Head of Business Development, Africa and Middle East Region, BBC World Service, says that these new partnership agreements are great news for the BBC.

He says: “They mean international news seekers can access the BBC’s multimedia content wherever they are and whenever they like in these territories. Our ambition is that the BBC Arabic news content is available to mobile-phone users across the Arab world.The partnership agreements in the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Oman, bring us closer to this goal.”

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