Manama: Saudi Arabia’s official news agency is planning to launch a service in Farsi in a major addition to the existing dissemination of news and reports in Arabic, English and French.

Adel Al Tarifi, the minister of culture and information and chairman of the board of the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) has called for launching the Persian service, Saudi news site Sabq reported.

The new service will allow Saudi Arabia to communicate directly with people living in Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan where the Iran media dominate and the people are fed false news and erroneous information about the Saudi kingdom, Sabq said.

No date was given for the launch of the service in Farsi, but expectations indicate that it will be done “soon”.

The service in Farsi will focus in its reports on the genuine efforts of Saudi Arabia in the service of Islam, the news site said.

The move to introduce the Farsi service was welcomed by commenters as a “much-needed” step that is “frustratingly overdue.”

“The Arabs have been shockingly idle, while Iran has been very active,” a blogger posting under the moniker of “Fasel” said. “While Arabs have been distracting people by focusing on music competitions and stars,” he said.

Jalis, another blogger, said that Saudi Arabia should have launched a satellite and a service within the news network in Farsi to help people in the region and beyond understand its points of view on several issues.

“Saudi Arabia needed to highlight its views through dedicated news channels that broadcast information about the military action as well as religious and cultural issues,” he said. “Many people living in other countries are not familiar with our views, values and traditions. We do need to communicate with them as we convey our messages to the international community. We are an important country and we need an open and direct communication with the others,” he said.

Ali said that Saudi Arabia needed to compensate for the decades of delay in reaching out to communities that spoke languages other than Arabic, French and English.

“The media have a highly significant role today and their power should never be underestimated,” he said. “The decision to start a Farsi service is late, but it is highly welcome. I hope that it will be followed by other decisions to include services in Urdu, Spanish, German, Indonesian and other languages of large communities that are deeply interested in Saudi Arabia,” he said.