Wadah Khanfar Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Wadah Khanfar        

Co-founder the Sharq Forum and the former director general of the Al Jazeera Network

From war correspondent to Baghdad bureau chief to Director General from 2003 until he stepped down in 2011, Wadah Khanfar worked through the closure and bombing of Al Jazeera's bureaus, the torture and murder of its journalists and state propaganda smears. Al Jazeera's approach to journalism emphasizes "re-thinking authority, giving a voice to the voiceless," Khanfar said in an interview with TIME.


Former director-general of al-Jazeera broadcaster. When the al-Jazeera satellite channel began its broadcast in 1996 from the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, more than a digital revolution was born. For the first time,

Arabs, hungry for freedoms and democracy, were able to watch news programmes and talk shows in their own language and assembled by independent journalists rather than by government propagandists.

With an estimated 50 millions viewers, the network is being imitated across the region. When Al-Jazeera English started in 2006, it was 50 countries and 80m households, and by the end of 2010 it reached 130 countries and 260m households, and has more than 3,500 employees, according to the channel. Al-Jazeera has angered Arab governments by giving airtime to rebel movements and freedom advocates and tackling taboo topics like polygamy and apostasy.

As director-general of al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite broadcaster, Wadah Khanfar who worked for eight years was at the heart of the Arab spring. He made his name in the aftermath of 9/11 and led the transformation of Arab television that some believe enabled the Arab spring to take place. And the glory of those February 2011 days when 24-hour rolling news helped ensure the safety of the Tahrir Square protesters.

The hefty subsidy paid by the Qatari royal family to al-Jazeera, Khanfar always insisted, did not buy editorial influence. Furthermore, the support of the emir and the chair of governors insulated the channel from the complaints of foreign governments.

Born and grew up in a village near Jenin on the West Bank , son of a teacher, Wadah Khanfar studied engineering in Jordan.


Insight with Wadah Khanfar former director general of Al Jazeera

Wadah Khanfar oversaw the creation of Al Jazeera English and was credited with revolutionising the Arab media landscape before he stepped down as director general in September 2011.

Speaking Friday at MIT: Wadah Khanfar, formerly of Al Jazeera

Attention Bostonians and Cantabrigians: You should head to the MIT Media Lab Friday evening for a remarkable event with Wadah Khanfar.

One year after Mubarak Wadah Khanfar on networks journalism and democracy

At the MIT Media Lab Friday, former Al Jazeera Director General Wadah Khanfar talked about what it took for the news company to reimagine itself and listen to networks during the Arab Spring.

Related Speakers View all

More like Wadah