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Doha News Management

Dear Readers,

As you are aware, the Doha News website continues to be inaccessible to online users in Qatar, it’s an inconvenience for you and a great worry for us.

As new publishers of Doha News, we are doing everything in our capacity to convince the Government of the State of Qatar that the time has come to unblock the site and clear the way for Doha News’ readers to start engaging once again. We have jumped through every hoop requested by the Government, from getting DN registered, to acquiring all relevant licenses. We have shown willingness to comply with any other requirements. We are also ready to cater to a large section of readers in the country who have shown immense patience and understanding.

We have put in requests for any information and development from various authorities, from the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) to the Government Communications Office (GCO), and Qatar’s National Information Security Center (Q-Cert).

However, for reasons we don’t quite understand, the Government of the State of Qatar has so far not given this significant issue its due attention. This silence from the Government is disquieting. Qatar has faced scrutiny from it’s neighbors regarding the Al Jazeera Network and continued to protect its rights in the name of media freedom, and continues to support freedom of expression within its country. Is it then not hypocritical to forbid Doha News that same right? Shouldn’t the unblocking of Doha News be the next logical step in Qatar’s fight for media freedom in the region? This is Qatar’s opportunity to stand out from its neighbors as a regional model.

We are having a hard time trying to explain to our readers why we are not able to maintain our standards as Qatar’s number one news portal as a news site can survive and flourish only if it informs and engages with it’s readers. At the moment, because of the limited number of stories we are publishing due to the ban, many users are expressing disappointments and frustration. We fear this might force many readers to alienate.

We will continue to appeal to the Government of the State of Qatar to look into the matter and do the needful for the benefit of our society. Doha News can be Qatar’s pride, but we need the Government to help us out in achieving that mark. In turn, our presence will help highlight Qatar’s leading role in media freedom in the region. The launch and advocacy for Al Jazeera was the start of Qatar’s path to becoming a model for media freedom and freedom of expression in the Arab world, we urge the Government of the State of Qatar to continue along this path with the unblocking of Doha News.

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After nearly two years in office, the director general of Al Jazeera Media Network Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al Thani has resigned to join Sheikh Tamim’s new government as Minister of Economy and Trade, Qatar News Agency reports.

“Today I leave Al Jazeera to answer another call, to serve my country, with full confidence of your continued success,” he said in a farewell note published by Al Jazeera’s Press Office.

No replacement has been announced yet. His resignation comes at a crucial juncture for the network, which is gearing up for the launch of Al Jazeera America in the next few months. 

During his short time at the top, Sheikh Ahmed brought significant changes to the ever-expanding media empire funded by the government of Qatar, including corporate restructuring, purchasing US cable channel Current TV and the still unannounced acquisition of Al Jazeera Children’s Channel. He was also named most powerful Qatari businessman by Arabian Business.

He was, however, unable to shake allegations that the network  increasingly serves as a tool of the Qatari government, and that Al Jazeera Arabic slants its editorial agenda in favor of Islamists in the region.

According to the Arabic listing of new cabinet positions published by Qatar News Agency, Sheikh Ahmed will serve as “Minister of Economy and Trade,” although the existing name of the governmental body is the Ministry of Business and Trade. It isn’t yet clear if that ministry is being renamed or reorganized.

Here is a video of the commencement speech Sheikh Ahmed gave at Northwestern University in Qatar earlier this year:

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Sheikh Ahmed was the Director General at Al Jazeera for almost two years, having started  in September 2011.

Thoughts?