Media in Saudi Arabia

Media in Saudi Arabia Last updated on Sunday 25th April 2010

In 1932 (1350/51 AH), King Abdul Aziz set up his own private radio network in the Kingdom, primarily to enable him and his officials to keep themselves informed of events.

Transmission, in the full sense of public broadcasting, began in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1948 (1368 AH). The beginning was from a small station in Jeddah followed in 1951 by another station Holy City of Makkah. These two stations, which were on the air for no more than 14 hours a week, broadcast recitations from the Holy Quran, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammed (may peace be upon him) as well as news, cultural programs and some music (military marches).


The Saudi Radio Broadcasting Service emerged from these relatively modest beginnings. In 1964 (1384 AH), the Riyadh broadcasting station and the Nidaa AlIslam station in Makkah began transmissions.

In the discharge of its duty as the guardian of the Holy Places and its role as the center of the Islamic world, the Kingdom has employed radio to strengthen Islam within and outside Saudi Arabia. In 1973 (1393 AH), the Kingdom began short wave and high frequency broadcasting in ::I, ::I, English, French, Indonesian, Persian, Somali, Swahili, Turkestan, Turkish and Urdu.

In 1979 (1399 AH), radio broadcasts from the various stations were unified into the General Service. The programming policy governing the General Service is based on the following principles:

The essential emphasis must be on religious, social and cultural programs

Particular attention should be given to news and political programs

Outstanding thinkers should be encouraged to give talks on important topics

Provision should be made for educational programs for the enlightenment of the listeners

There should be special programs catering for the family, for childcare and for health education

Eminent men of letters should be encouraged to write religious, cultural and social dramas for broadcast as serials.

In addition to the General Service, there are now a number of other radio channels:

The Second Program Service, which broadcasts folkloric, dramatic, recreational, literary and scientific programs

Foreign Language Broadcasting which places the emphasis on Islamic solidarity and which also has a proselytizing function

The Nidaa AlIslam Broadcasting Station, which promulgates the message of Islam and defends the Islamic faith against the assaults of hostile ideologies

The Holy Quran Broadcasting Service

The European Languages Station, which broadcasts religious and informational programs in English and French


In 1964 (1384 AH), the late King Faisal commissioned the American National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to construct a national television network. The first TV transmission test in the Kingdom took place in 1965 (1385 AH) from stations in Riyadh and Jeddah.

Throughout the development of the Kingdom's television services, the Ministry of Information has been keen in providing most advanced technology in the field of television service. The television complex in Riyadh stands as a remarkable example of this commitment to technical excellence. This complex includes the most advanced production and transmission studios, a complete film production facility, a theater with 800people seating capacity and a 170metre transmission tower topped by a glass jewelshaped structure from which the entire city of Riyadh can be viewed.

There are currently two television channels: one in Arabic, the other in English. Programming is a balanced blend of religious and cultural programs, entertainment and music, Arabic drama programs, nonArabic films and soup operas, children's programs, and news and current affairs programs. Special programming is produced for all the major events in the Islamic calendar, especially for Ramadan and for the period of the ::I, the annual pilgrimage to the Holy Places.


Main Dailies

  • Arab News, an English language daily newspaper with local and foreign news coverage
  • AlBilad (Arabic)
  • AlJazirah (Arabic)
  • AlMadinah alMunawara (Arabic)
  • AnNadwah (Arabic)
  • Okaz (Arabic)
  • AlRiyadh (Arabic)
  • Saudi Gazette, an English language daily newspaper with local and foreign news coverage
  • Riyadh Daily
  • Al Watan
  • AlYaum (Arabic)

Main Weeklies

  • Al Daiwa (Riyadh)
  • Al Yam'ama (Riyadh)
  • Iqraa (Jeddah)
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