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Sky News Arabia to go on air in May
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Sky News Arabia, a 24-hour Arabic language news channel based in Abu Dhabi, is to go on air on May 6, following in the footsteps of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, its management announced yesterday.

Sky is run by British Sky Broadcasting, whose biggest shareholder is Rupert Murdochs News Corp.

"Our aim has been to create an impartial and independent breaking news channel for the Arab world across multiple platforms," Nart Bouran, the channel's head, said in a statement announcing the launch date.

The announcement of the May 6 launch comes after more than two years of preparation for Sky News Arabia to join the increasingly crowded Arabic news market. It is also a boost for Abu Dhabis efforts to challenge Dubai as a regional media hub.

Sky News Arabia is a joint venture between British Sky Broadcasting, BSkyB, and Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp, a private firm owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, a brother of the United Arab Emirates president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan. "Sky News Arabia will offer the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region a fresh approach to television news with an independent editorial mandate at the heart of everything we do," Bouran said. Qatar's Al-Jazeera and Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya, based in Dubai, are prominent in Arabic-language television news channels.

Their competitors include BBC Arabic, France 24, Iran's Al-Alam and Russia Today channels. Last year, Saudi Arabias Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said he plans to start an Arabic television news channel that will be based in Bahrain.