Al Jazeera broadcast a documentary movie earlier this year called Black Hands Organisation, which showed how the UAE lobby organised the roles of the media network to be the most effective in Europe and the US.
The documentary claimed that former British prime minister Tony Blair was working to set up a pro-UAE network in Britain, with ousted Palestinian Fatah politician, and current advisor to the UAE crown prince, Mohammed Dahlan, working on the same thing in the Middle East.
Foreign Policy magazine and the Wall Street Journal are the UAE lobby’s favourite western media outlets.
Dahlan controls several militias in Arab countries, and regularly targets Islamist political movements in the Middle East for criticism, following the line from Abu Dhabi.
UAE recruited Dahlan in order to construct their national security system, using his strong relationship with the former CIA director, George Tenet.
The security project led to a new media strategy, of which ALGHAD TV was the most prominent aspect.
The channel was founded in Dubai at a meeting between the losing candidate in the Egyptian presidential elections, Ahmad Shafik, former Dubai police commander, Dahy Khalfan, as well as Dahlan.
They agreed on a few steps aims at weakening the then Egyptian president, Mohammad Morsi, through media campaigns inciting disturbances against him.
One of the steps was intensifying the media crackdown against Morsi and supporting the TV presenters who would lead it with millions of dollars.
Alghad TV was inaugurated in one of the luxurious districts of west London at a cost of $200 million.
The channel studios were as well equipped as British TV channels, such as BBC and Sky.
There were several bureaus for the channel in Arab cities, such as Beirut and Cairo.
The channel was supposed to challenge Al Jazeera, but when it failed, the lobby changed its focus onto local issues.
Focus on Egypt
Egypt has the lion’s share of UAE lobbying interest. The lobby controlled media outlets in Cairo on which they invited figures of the counter-revolution, starting with Ahmad Shafik and members of the National Salvation Front, which supported the coup against Morsi.
UAE has systematically bought shares in the Egyptian media market, including in Azhari TV and the Ruya website, which were previously owned by Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, the cousin of former Libyan president, Muammar El Gaddafi.
Azhari’s administration led a crackdown against Islamists in Egypt, as revealed by the head of Palestinian studies in Egypt, Ibraheem Al Darawy, who was arrested after the coup.
UAE started a campaign to buy TV channels and newspapers, whether through buying them all completely or buying shares. These media outlets included the Aiwatan newspaper, Egypt Today, CBC, Al Nahar and Youm7.
UAE influence on the Egyptian media was not far from the pre-revolution institutions of the regime in Egypt, which became clear in a meeting between intelligence officers from the UAE and Egypt at the office of Abbas Kamel, the head of the office of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in December 2016.
The meeting discussed cooperation between the media projects of both countries. The Egyptian side suggested that they would replace all the revolutionary journalists with other pro-Sisi ones. This process explains the “clearance” of around 200 journalists and presenters by ON TV.
Victims of the purge included Lilian Dawood, a presenter who was known for her opposition to the current Egyptian regime, was forcibly deported from Egypt after it was alleged that her residence had ended.
Dahlan also played his role in Turkey, connecting with the Turkish opposition forces led by Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Sky News Arabia played an important role at the failed coup in Turkey, as they devoted special coverage to coup supporters and were the only channel to claim their success.
The coverage by the channel was so far away from professionalism that its CEO, the Jordanian journalist Nart Bouran, stepped down, as did senior journalist Arar El Sharaa, who left Abu Dhabi to start working for the US-based channel, Hurra TV.
Alghad TV’s coverage was similar to that of Sky News Arabia, but with a local focus. It interviewed Gulen, who denied the official Turkish story of the coup and alleged that the Turkish regime was trying to include his group on terrorist lists.
British journalist David Hurst told Middle East Eye that Dahlan was personally involved in the coup attempt.