Dubai: Media in Israel and the UAE together shoulder a special responsibility to “kill the prejudices” and change the world’s perception about peace in the Middle East, the CEO of Israeli TV channel ‘i24NEWS’ told Gulf News in Dubai on Monday.
On a trip to Dubai, Frank Melloul, in a wide-ranging interaction with Gulf News, said: “We have a huge opportunity now” — following the ‘Abraham Accords Peace Agreement’ between the UAE and Israel in 2020 to normalise ties — to do away with any bias.”
In the UAE, i24NEWS started airing on UAE’s leading telecom provider etisalat earlier this year, becoming the first channel broadcast from Israel to be made available in the UAE.
‘Peace already possible’
Melloul, speaking at the Gulf News office in Dubai, said: “I feel that if today most of the people on the planet are thinking that peace is not possible in the Middle East, it’s because of the media, because of the perception that you have in the media. And I’m very proud that we have succeed to show on i24News — with the French, Arabic and English-speaking networks in the channel — that peace is already possible.”
He added: “So, I’m inviting all the networks, all the partners here in UAE to join i24News in this amazing mission to promote the reality of a new Middle East, to educate the new generation, and to kill prejudices.”
In December 2020, i24NEWS had signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi Media, the UAE’s leading public service broadcaster, to see media companies in both the countries collaborate in multiple spheres, including shared news reporting through correspondents in the UAE and Israel.
Opening an office in UAE?
When asked about the possibility of other agreements with UAE media or the opening of an i24NEWS broadcast or editorial office in the UAE, Melloul said: “Our vision here is to show that we are open to many thing ... to show the reality of a new Middle East.”
Taking the UAE-Israeli ‘reality’ global
He added that i24NEWS (part of the Altice Group owned by businessman Patrick Drahi) has also signed an agreement with Dubai Tourism “to show the reality of the UAE for Israeli, European, American and African [audiences]. So this is not only to connect Israel to the UAE, or to connect the UAE to Israel, but to connect this new reality of the Middle East to the rest of the world”. The Israeli network broadcasts in Arabic, English and French from studios in Jaffa Port, the United States and Europe.
Melloul said partnerships such as these are also “a huge opportunity in terms of business, to promote Israeli brands on Arabic platforms and promote Arabic brands on Israeli platforms”.
But do advertisers still see the potential for satellite TV, in the age of digital and social media and OTT (over the top) content delivered over the internet? Yes, said Melloul.
According to the CEO, i24NEWS reaches “One billion households in the world through satellite and cable networks”. And to keep up with OTT, he added, the company will be launching “a broadcast on a new OTT platform every two months”, especially in the US, where it has a share of 20 million households.