The state of Qatar’s emphasis on the importance of sport is reflected through the growth of the Qatari sports media, according to a prominent sports journalist, who spoke to Doha Centre for Media Freedom ahead of national Sports Day on February 14.
Al Jazeera sports news journalist, Ali Al-Maslamani discussed his thoughts on the industry and its importance in Qatar, while speaking about the experiences and insight he has gained throughout his career to date.
Al-Maslamani began his commentating career at Qatar Television in 2003 at the age of 19.
“This was an unforgettable period, and the memories of this time will stay with me for the rest of my life,” he said, mentioning coverage of various sporting events and tournaments.
He then moved to Al Kass sports channel where he was a member of staff from the time of its inception, commentating on a number of local and international events.
At the same time, he also worked for six years at the Voice of the Gulf radio station where he worked on various sports news programmes and worked as head of the sports department before moving to Al Jazeera in 2008.
He explained that his work within the sports media field came about because of his dedication and passion for sports.
“Since my childhood I have adored sports. I was keen to follow and work in the field of sports and I did not see myself working in any other area of the media,” he said.
"My choice comes form a passion for football and my desire to work in such a specialisation," he added.
Growth of sports media in Qatar
Al-Maslamani said that the celebration of a national Sports Day indicates Qatar’s leadership’s focus on the health and wellbeing of all people living in Qatar.
Promoting sport as an integral aspect of daily life, Sports Day highlights the importance and inclusiveness of sports, bringing together different people to enjoy activities together.
This emphasis on sport is reflected in the media working in Qatar, suggested Al-Maslamani: “The evolution of the media landscape and sports in our country can be seen in the success of Al Kass channel and Bein sports, which means that we have the largest media networks in the world for covering local and international sporting events.”
Al-Maslamani noted that this growth is both creating and being supported by young Qataris who are opting to enter the local industry, a face of which he is proud.
He highlighted the importance of capitalising on this growth and encouraging more young people to get involved in sports media, especially in light of the fact that Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
“We must be ready for the World Cup in Qatar, not just in hosting the event, but also in terms of media coverage, as media coverage is how people relate to the country and plays an important role in the celebration of football,” he said.
Neutrality in journalism
Al-Maslamani also commented on an important aspect of journalism in general, and something which he tries to follow in his role, the concept of neutrality, noting the particular importance of refraining from bias in the Arab world as tensions between different supporters can be heightened.
“I always try to stick to neutrality in my comments during my work, and I never show my particular inclinations when covering events. I work hard to argue and debate without showing my personal inclinations and this is something I am proud of,” he added.
Al Masadani wished journalists covering Sports Day the best of luck in their coverage, highlighting the importance of supporting this event and developing sports journalism in Qatar.