Saudi businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal launched his new Arabic TV channel, Alarab TV, in Bahrain on Sunday.
The channel, said to have 280 staff including correspondents in 30 countries, is set to be a competitor to Qatar-backed Al Jazeera, established in 1996, and Dubai-based Al Arabiya, which was launched in 2003 by Waleed Al Ebrahim, a brother-in-law of Saudi Arabia’s late King Fahad.
Both stations have been accused of being a front to promote the political views of their owners.
Al Arab general manager Jamal Khashoggi has insisted the new channel would be objective.
“We are not going to take sides,” he said in an interview.
“I think a news channel should not have a political agenda... We should just be a news channel that provides accurate, objective information.”
Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist, was himself forced to resign from Saudi Arabia’s Al Watan daily after it ran an opinion column that angered religious conservatives in 2010.
Despite its largest bureau being in Riyadh, with 20 employees, Alarab TV was forced to set-up in Bahrain because Saudi Arabia does not allow independent broadcasters.
Prince Alwaleed is chairman of Saudi-based Kingdom Holding, which has stakes in media companies such as News Corporation, Twitter and Rotana Group, which runs entertainment TV channels in the Middle East.
Its diverse interests also include the Disneyland Paris theme park, Citigroup and Four Seasons hotels.
Prince Alwaleed, who does not hold any government role, has been critical of the highly conservative Saudi government under the late King Abdullah, who is his uncle.
In December, he said some Saudi ministers were arrogant and superior and needed to “do more for the Saudi citizen” during an interview with the English daily Saudi Gazette.
He also has implored the government to establish a sovereign wealth fund to protect it against the sliding oil price, while describing its reliance on oil revenues for 90 percent of the budget income as “a mistake”.