Islamic Satellite Television Channel Launched

DOHA (Qatar), March 7 (Bernama) -- Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Talal officially launched on Monday an Islamic satellite television channel that aims to project Islam as a religion of moderation and tolerance.

Set up by the prince's Kingdom Holding Company, Al-Resalah (The Message) Channel had begun broadcasting informally since last Wednesday, the Saudi English Language daily "Arab News" reported.

Prince Alwaleed, the CEO of Kingdom, told reporters at the launch that the 24-hour satellite television channel would initially target an Arab audience, especially the youth, and serve as a forerunner of an English-language Islamic channel to be launched in due course.

The channel's priority would be to present the true message and teachings of Islam and to provide a platform for dialogue on a range of religious, social and economic issues that affect everyday life, the prince was reported as saying.

Tarek Alsuwaidan, the channel's general manager, said that 40 per cent of the programmes would be youth oriented, 30 per cent would target women and families, and 10 per cent would focus on children.

Walid Hashem, a member of Saudi Arabia's Shoura (Advisory) Council, told "Arab News" that the channel would feature cartoons and animated films with a moral content. These programmes would be procured from TV companies operating in Turkey and unspecified Arab countries.

The main objective was to unify the ranks of the Islamic community, counter the negative perceptions of Islam and wean the youth away from the path of extremism, he added.

On Feb 28, Prince Alwaleed's entertainment production and distribution company, Rotana Audio Visual, announced that it was producing the first ever feature film with a Saudi cast for regional release this summer.

According to local reports, "Kaif Al Hal?" ("How Are You?"), a comedy that takes on the global misconceptions of Saudi life and tackles social issues facing young people in the kingdom, was filmed over several months at different locations in Dubai and is expected to draw huge crowds since this is the first production of its kind in the region.

The Saudi actors and actresses, including Star Academy winner Hisham Abdulrahman, Turki Al-Yusuf, Fathima Al-Hawsani, were directed by Izidore Musallam ("Adam & Eve", 2002).

Saudi Arabia has a native population of around 18 million, 60 per cent of whom are under 21.

Authorities in Riyadh allowed public screenings of children's cartoons in November, the first time films have been shown in public since the 1970s when the kingdom's powerful religious establishment took a position against cinema.