BBC expands Cairo hub as war looms

The BBC Arabic Service is expanding its capacity to produce live programming from the Middle East in the run-up to possible war with Iraq. It has created a larger regional hub in Cairo, Egypt, and an outstation in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

The new Cairo operation, with its purpose-built studio, was chosen to service additional journalists needed to work in the region, because of Egypt’s strategic position as the headquarters of the Arab League.

Gamon McLellan, head of the Arabic Service, has sent five senior journalists to Cairo, including two short-term secondments from London.

Heading up the Cairo operation is Hassan Al Ala, the Arabic Service’s head of international broadcasting relations. He was responsible for organising FM radio relays in Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.

He will be joined by Azza Mohy El Din, a senior reporter and producer who has reported from Libya, Yemen and the Gulf, and Jihan Al Alaily, a reporter and producer who has covered Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, Israel and the occupied territories, and northern Iraq.

Both have been based for several years in the old BBC Cairo office for the Arabic Service.

The seconded presenters from London are Karem Mahmoud and Al Adel Soliman, a former presenter of the now defunct BBC Arabic TV and producer for Al Jazeera before returning to the BBC Arabic Service.

“As we are moving towards hostilities in the region, we will be deploying more live presenters,” said McLellan.

By Wale Azeez

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