Rima Maktabi, best known for her kevlar-sporting war reporting on Al Arabiya, will be the new host of CNN's "Inside The Middle East". It's an interesting arrangement. She'll keep her job as the prime time news anchor on Arabic-language Al Arabiya for a few months while filming the versions of "Inside the Middle East" that will appear starting April 5, and then join CNN full time in June.
The move follows CNN's launch of its nighly primeitme show "Prism" out of Abu Dhabi last autumn, and the decision to fully localise the production staffs of the "Inside the Middle East' and "CNN Marketplace Middle East" shows.
But poor Al Arabiya. Not long ago, the BBC's new Arabic-language TV channel came along and hired a bunch of the the Arabic-speaking journalists it had trained. Sam Barnett, the chief operating officer and general manager of MBC, Al Arabiya's parent company, was grumbling about it indirectly at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit earlier this month, when he complained it was not fair for private media companies to have to compete with government-funded outfits like the BBC. Now here comes a private outfit, CNN, to do the same.