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Under the guise of wanting to show the “new Middle East,” international news channel i24News on Monday announced a series of agreements with the United Arab Emirates, including the opening of a permanent office in Dubai, a first for an Israel-based outlet.
Last December, as part of the normalization of relations between Israel and the Emirates, i24News and conglomerate Abu Dhabi Media agreed to “swap” content between their newsrooms based in the two countries.
On Monday, the i24News channel, owned by billionaire Patrick Drahi, announced the establishment of a permanent office in Dubai’s Media City after receiving broadcasting licenses from the Emirates’ two major telecom operators, Etisalat and DU.
“On the symbolic level, this shows that i24news (…) is perceived as a platform and chain of the Abraham Accords (name of the normalization agreement between Israel and the Emirates, editor’s note)”, explained the news agency AFP Frank Melloul, CEO by i24news.
“It also shows how i24news has managed to establish itself as a major media player in the region in record time,” he said.
The parties also intend to build “the fiber of peace,” a fiber-optic line linking the Gulf to Israel via Jordan to, among other things, connect the media studios in the Emirates with those of the station in Tel Aviv. added Meloul.
i24News, which broadcasts in French, English and Arabic, is also in contact with the editor of the English-language daily Gulf News and the Emirates’ Ministry of Tourism, which will be promoting the Gulf monarchy in TV commercials.
To mark the occasion, the chain, based in Jaffa on the Israeli coast, presented a new slogan: “The heart of a new Middle East beats on i24News”.
In a statement, the director of the Media Office of the Emirate of Dubai, Mona al-Marri, welcomed “the establishment of cooperation between the media sectors of the Emirates and Israel”. The director of Media City, a free zone where many Dubai-based media outlets are concentrated, Majed Al Suwaidi welcomed “the opening of an i24news office.”
The announcement of these deals comes a few weeks after the last Gaza war from May 10-21, which was the subject of intense coverage from the Palestinian enclave by Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera, an emirate which has hitherto criticized normalization deals between the Jewish state and Arab countries (Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco).
Since relations between the Emirates and Israel were normalized in September, the two countries have established direct airlines, appointed ambassadors and multiplied visits by trade delegations.
The Palestinians condemned the normalization accords, which they dubbed “treason” because until then, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had been seen as a sine qua non for normalization.
© 2021 AFP