After twelve years of preparations to organise the World Cup, with an expenditure estimated by Forbes at between USD 6.5 billion and USD 10 billion, a Spanish-language radio station is among the supporting initiatives. Hola Qatar Radio, which opened on 2 November 2022, broadcasts on 92.0 MHz from Doha, taking over from MBC FM in Arabic. Run by the Qatar Media Corporation, a public media organisation, it is aimed more at Spanish-speaking Qataris than at World Cup fans who come in droves to watch the matches. In fact, among the ten nations that have bought the most tickets (almost three million have been sold) are Mexico and Argentina.
More entertainment than sport
The aim of the broadcaster is to introduce visitors to Qatari culture, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Thani Al Thani, CEO of the Qatar Media Corporation, said at the press conference. According to the Argentinian website iProfesional, which monitored the broadcasts, there is a relaxed atmosphere but few, if any, of the presenters give the impression of being professionals or journalists. Scattered reports are given on match developments, but there are no radio commentaries or real-time information on the progress of the matches. The commentaries are not comparable to an in-depth sports analysis and there are no guest players in the studio. Here is the site’s in-depth analysis in which the Qatari media system’s broadcaster is mentioned as well. And Hola Quatar Radio? What future will it have after the World Cup? (Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)
Jerusalem24 is a Palestinian station broadcasting from Ramallah on 106.1 MHz. Established in May 2021, and inaugurated on 7 October 2021, it’s funded by the European Union to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and talk about the impact on the lives of people in the territories. The editors say they criticise both Israel and the Palestinian Authority “but in a professional way“. Theprogrammes and website are in English, but news bulletins are broadcast in Hebrew with the intention of seeking Israeli “ears”, to give them a chance to hear another voice. A voice that speaks to them about the segregation of Palestinians and the daily difficulties they face, such as power cuts or long waiting times at checkpoints for border workers.
A success story
Jerusalem24 is owned by Afkar Productions Company, a company founded in 2014 by a group of young journalists. The business started with the multimedia platform “24FM“, which was created to disseminate professional information and became one of the most popular radio stations. Later Afkar started a news website and 7 years later created an English-language radio station linked to the “Jerusalem24″ website.
Radio Al-Balad, a community radio station in Amman, devised a programme written and conducted bySyrian refugees. The idea came from Daoud Kuttab, director of the Community Media Network, to which the station also belongs, to give a voice to the refugees of the conflict, more than 1.3 million in the country. In recent years, the radio staff has trained about a hundred reporters who have produced reports for the programme “Syrians among us”.
Since 21st October 2020, on 95.3 MHz in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, you can receive Ibiza Global Radio. On the Balearic Islands, the radio station defines itself as “the soundtrack of the island“. This is the second stage of expansion abroad by a Spanish radio: the first was in Italy, where every Sunday (from 10pm to midnight), Radio Studio Più broadcasts on 70 frequencies a programme offering live links from Ibiza’s discos. The choice to expand into the Persian Gulf country is dictated by the international atmosphere of Dubai, a cosmopolitan capital that in 2019 was visited by 19 million tourists. And since the country will host the Universal Exhibition in 2021, the broadcaster’s operators expect to be interested in an avant-garde and pioneering sound like the one offered by the broadcaster.
The Qataris employ a massive number of Asian workers. The number is so high that the native population only makes up 15% of all inhabitants. The Bangladeshi community is one of the largest (with a population of about 137,000 according to the last estimate). The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has launched a temporary radio station in Bengali to raise awareness of the risks of the pandemic and to inform Bangladeshi workers of how to take appropriate precautions.
The radio station broadcasting in Bengali on 95.3 FM in Doha is overseen by QMC (Qatar Media Corporation), a state organisation that also manages Qatar Radio Urdu on air on 107.0 FM. There are also commercial radio stations for the Asian public based in the capital: Qabayan Radio on 94.3 FM transmitting in Filipino and Malayalam Radio on 98.6 FM (in Malayalam, the language spoken in the Indian state of Kerala).
To date the United Arab Emirates ministry of health has opened 24 drive-through centres enabling them to carry out 115,000 coronavirus tests per week. Coinciding with the mass screening campaign launched by the DoH (Department of Health) in the United Arab Emirates, a number of radio stations broadcasting on the FM band have also been opened. A welcome message is broadcast on air as citizens arrive at the centres in their cars for a throat swab (free of charge for those at risk, otherwise it costs 370 AED, equivalent to US$ 101) to check if they are positive for Covid-19. At the first centre, opened in Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, messages are transmitted on 104.6 MHz. The acronym SEHA (the Abu Dhabi Healthcare Company that manages the tests) appears in RDS.