Al-Jazeera and Qatar’s Soft Power
Foreword Daya Thussu
Ever since Joseph Nye coined the term “soft power” way back in 1990 in an article published in the journal Foreign Policy, the phrase has been enthusiastically adopted or adapted by countries around the world. From China to Russia and from Iran and India, foreign policy mandarins have been busy creating new and innovative ways of promoting the soft aspects of their national power in an increasingly mediatized international arena. In recent years, many countries have set up “public diplomacy” departments within their ministries of foreign affairs, while a number of governments have sought the services of public relations and lobbying firms to coordinate their “nation-branding initiatives.”
Tal Azran’s engaging new book focuses on arguably the most significant entrant in this exciting world of public diplomacy. Within the contemporary geo-political environment, there is growing recognition of the importance of soft power in a digitally connected and globalized media and communication environment, and in this the media play a key role. The importance of mass media—especially visual media—is crucial in the on-going battle for images and ideas.
Al-Jazeera, which was launched in 1996 by the emir of Qatar with a $150 million grant, has grown into a major global broadcaster with annual expenditure ← ix | x → on the network’s multiple channels reaching nearly $650 million. Based in Doha, Al-Jazeera broadcasts news and current affairs in Arabic, English, Turkish and Serb-Croat. Al-Jazeera English, in operation since 2006, reaches 260 million homes in 130 countries, and...
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