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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 03/ 7/2011

An opening to the Arab world

By Sarah Lovenheim

Updated, 4:45 p.m.
A new television show that could transform the way we follow news from the Arab world is on the verge of debuting, according to Wired. Called "The Stream," the Al Jazeera English production will revolve around Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and other social networking media from the Arab world.

And it could just help strengthen Arab-American relations.

As unrest in the Arab world intensifies and the future of Arab governments remains uncertain, one of the biggest challenges for the United States has been figuring out how to better communicate with the Arab world -- particularly Arab youth.

If America wants to strengthen its relationship with the Arab world, connecting with the next generation of Arab leaders is key. As President Obama's special representative to Muslim communities, Farah Pandith, once explained, "These youth are keen to be connected to others, to share ideas and to take part in building stronger communities."

This new show that shines a spotlight on young Arab voices seems like an important way for Americans to get a better handle of how this generation thinks.

The Arab media terrain has quickly become so fractured that few Americans can navigate their way to key opinions and news nuggets. There are at least 275 satellite TV stations in the region -- twice as many as existed just two years ago. In Egypt, nearly 5 million people are on Twitter, and at least tens of thousands blog.

"The Stream" promises to filter through the chatter and showcase the most important voices, according to Wired. That can serve as an important resource for U.S. diplomats trying to better understand and work with the Arab world.

"Stream" hosts will not use a script. They'll rely on social media content from engaged viewers and the greater Web to drive the show. "Inherently it is a show that would not exist without these kinds of users," explained Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, the show's co-host.

The show already has an active Twitter feed that displays nearly 1,300 tweets and a Facebook page. "The Stream," beginning in May, will air for 30 minutes daily but will engage viewers online day and night. Al Jazeera producers plan to conduct interviews via Skype in real time, respond to tweets and play online videos.

A sample video clip begins with Flickr photos drifting across a screen as Arab chants sound off in the background.

If its Twitter feed is any indication, the show will discuss a wide range of content, with soft rock segments blended with debates about hard news that should provide a lens for Americans looking to understand the attitudes among young Arabs.

By Sarah Lovenheim  | March 7, 2011; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Lovenheim  
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Comments

Hi - it is Ahmed - co-host for Al Jazeera's upcoming show "The Stream".

Thanks for the coverage - I just thought I would point out that this part of your post:

"The image transitions into a segment featuring a musician talking about how her online fans have helped support her career and motivated her to succeed and develop her work. As she talks, rock music plays."

is actually not part of our show. It is probably the result of the next video on Wired's video carousel - but has nothing to do with the show. Please contact me at ahmed.shihabeldin@aljazeera.net for further clarification. Thanks again!

Posted by: ashihab | March 7, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Ahmed - thanks for your note. I've updated my post accordingly and appreciate that you flagged this.
Best,
Sarah

Posted by: Washington Post editors | March 7, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

You are very welcome - there is something quirky about that video player to begin with.

Thanks for the coverage - and of course would love to stay in touch.

A

Posted by: ashihab | March 7, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

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