Media in Qatar: Boosting freedom of speech

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The mass media in Qatar has been witnessing an unprecedented shift which resulted in reinforcing its role in building the society. The year 2007 particularly witnessed a boost in the promoting of professionalism in this sector, especially with the creation of the Doha Free Information Centre, and merge of several information services under the umbrella of a newly transformed Qatar News Agency.

In line with the freedom of expression, the directive of lifting censorship of the media and abolishing the Ministry of Information, whose departments were transformed into independent bodies was one of the most important steps taken by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani the Emir after taking power on 27 June 1995.

In May 1997 Qatar General Broadcasting and Television Corporation was set up. The law establishing it states that the Corporation is a body corporate and under the direct authority of the Council of Ministers with an independent budget adjunct to the general budget of the State. The Corporation aims at upholding the mission of audio and audio-visual information in line with the latest scientific developments of the time.

The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.

Another Emir decision of size was the restructuring of Qatar News Agency (QNA) while incorporating the Foreign Information Agency under its umbrella. The move serves to establish new means of fluidity and efficiency in QNA's work.

The Doha Free Information Centre

The Emir of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani issued Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar.