Saudi broadcasting media – a tool for regional influence

Authored by: Andrew Hammond

Routledge Handbook on Arab Media

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138385481
eBook ISBN: 9780429427084
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter provides an overview of the Saudi broadcasting sector which began with the developmental aims of combating illiteracy and promoting the modernization of the kingdom drawing on the growing oil wealth. Broadcasting was also used to promote the kingdom’s religious ideology partially to assuage the growing criticism by the Wahhabi clerics and partially to increase the influence of the kingdom as the representative of Sunni Islam, thanks to its hosting of two holy sites. Since the 1990s, the growth of media outlets in the West and among regional rivals such as Qatar prompted the kingdom to stake its place in the pan-Arab public sphere, carving out a formidable role for the kingdom in influencing discourse in domestic, Gulf, and Arab media more broadly. This was critical in managing the domestic political conflict between liberal and Islamic constituencies and warding off foreign policy challenges from regional rivals such as Iran, Turkey, and Islamist political forces. Media plays a critical role in Saudi Arabia’s post-Arab Spring strategy of supporting a network of allied governments to counter the perceived threat to domestic stability from Iran, Qatar, and Turkey.

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