As a pioneer in media investment, Qatar has emerged as a regional leader in the media and entertainment segments. Since the inception of its first mass media outlets – both radio and TV – in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the country has transformed into a major regional and global media centre, with a reach of 430m households by its major networks worldwide. The establishment of Media City Qatar (MCQ) in 2019 sought to help the country build on past achievements. Home to both domestic and international players, the government has cultivated a local media landscape that features some of the region’s largest media brands and attracts global partners.

However, the industry faced challenges following the 2017 trade blockade imposed by some Arab neighbours, which resulted in competing narratives appearing on regional networks. This problem eased after a January 2021 agreement at a GCC summit restored ties. Progress since then has been accelerated by Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which garnered coverage from the international press. Progress is evidenced by Qatar’s significant improvement in the Reporters Without Borders 2023 World Press Freedom Index, jumping 14 places to 105th out of 180 countries – making it one of the few countries in the region to improve its ranking from the previous year. Building upon its success, the media segment is now evolving in tandem with dynamic changes in the international media landscape.

Structure & Oversight

The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) serves as Qatar’s independent regulator for the telecoms, IT, postal and digital media subsegments. Established in 2014, it assumed the responsibilities of the Supreme Council of ICT. Through licensing conditions and efforts to foster fair competition and safeguard consumer rights, the CRA plays an important role in shaping the media segment. Beyond telecoms, the CRA’s actions extend to promoting connectivity, supporting businesses during crises and ensuring fair practices within the country’s broader media landscape.

At the forefront of governmental media entities is the Qatar Media Corporation (QMC), formerly known as the Qatar General Broadcasting and Television Corporation – which serves as the official broadcasting authority. QMC oversees media services across various radio and TV channels, including Qatar TV, the nation’s inaugural TV station founded in 1970, and the Qatar Broadcasting Service radio station. Recognising Qatar’s diverse expatriate population, QMC’s radio station broadcasts in Arabic, English, French and some South-east Asian languages. Furthermore, QMC launched Channel 37 TV in 2012, featuring 4K ultra-high-definition programming in English. Incorporated in 1997 and restructured in 2009, QMC plays a key role – with a mission to preserve national identity and nurture local Qatari talent.

Additionally, the Qatar News Agency, established in 1975 as the first state-run news agency and affiliated with the Ministry of Communications and IT, delivers news in Arabic and English, with supplementary services available in Spanish and Portuguese. Alongside these entities, the Government Communications Office (GCO) serves as the country’s official communications arm. Responsible for disseminating information about state policies, initiatives and activities on both domestic and international platforms, the GCO plays a key role in managing Qatar’s image and reputation on the global stage.

Legal Framework

Both professional journalism and an increasing number of social media interactions in Qatar are guided by regulations aimed at maintaining societal harmony and respecting cultural norms. While the country upholds freedom of expression, guidelines are in place to ensure responsible journalism and social media content. Article 48 of the 2003 constitution governs the press law, guaranteeing freedom of press, printing and publication. Law No. 8 of 1979 on Publications and Publishing is considered outdated, leading to discussions of a new law to modernise media practices, enhance freedom for media professionals and provide more opportunities for media development. A new law could also address newer media forms, namely social media, as well as adapt to other developments and ensure freedom of expression in Qatar’s media landscape.

Striking a balance between diverse perspectives and safeguarding against content that may incite discord or violate cultural sensitivities remains a priority. Law No. 14 of 2014 marked a step forwards in preventing cybercrime, punishing anyone who puts state security at risk online – with a particular emphasis on combatting fake news. The regulation underscores that it is crucial for journalists and social media users to be mindful of the cultural context and adhere to established guidelines, contributing to a media environment that promotes constructive discourse and respects Qatari societal values.

The regulation’s stringency was heightened by a January 2020 amendment to the penal code, which deems the sharing or publication of false news punishable by up to five years in prison or a maximum fine of QR100,000 ($27,400), leading to some international criticism. Moving forwards, more clarity from the authorities on what constitutes a violation could help to improve understanding and compliance within the ever-evolving media landscape.

Media City

MCQ was created to foster and enhance media-related activities within the country, with a primary focus on attracting international expertise and investment. MCQ concentrates on three main types of media: TV channels, publications and social media, successfully drawing in 33 different news outlets. Leveraging its free-zone status, MCQ offers a range of incentives such as 20-year corporate tax exemptions and 100% foreign ownership. Functioning as a comprehensive centre for media production companies and professionals seeking opportunities in the region, MCQ offers advanced facilities equipped with a range of services and resources in order to support the media segment.

Success in attracting international partners has strengthened Qatar’s media ecosystem. In February 2021 MCQ forged a strategic partnership with the pan-European TV news network, Euronews. As part of this collaboration, Euronews established its regional office at MCQ, along with a media academy offering high-quality training programmes and locally produced content suitable for all age groups. Similarly, in 2022 MCQ secured a multi-year agreement with Singapore’s Group ONE Holdings, among Asia’s largest global sports media platforms, to collaborate on the production and development of global content. This partnership expanded in June 2023 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between MCQ and martial arts organisation ONE Championship to bring live events to the country.

Moreover, in 2020 MCQ bolstered Qatar’s global media presence by securing a multi-year contract with Bloomberg Media to host the annual Qatar Economic Forum, dedicated to global business, until 2027. The latest edition, held in May 2023, drew over 2000 participants, with 1000 attendees from outside Qatar. The event featured more than 50 regional and international speakers, including heads of state, CEOs, global investors and influential figures.

In January 2024 MCQ forged a strategic partnership with the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA) to bolster the country’s attractiveness for international media companies. This collaboration aims to streamline the registration and licensing process for media businesses. Under the agreement, the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) will register media companies pre-approved by MCQ – in a move to enable a seamless, efficient process. While the QFC oversees governmental procedures and tax-related matters, MCQ works to ensure compliance with media regulations, enhancing Qatar’s appeal for media enterprises.


Qatar boasts seven prominent daily newspapers in circulation, with four published in Arabic (Al-Arab, Al-Raya, Al-Sharq and Al-Watan,) and three in English (Gulf Times, Qatar Tribune and The Peninsula). Al-Arab, the country’s inaugural post-independence newspaper, was launched in 1972. Despite facing closure in 1996 due to financial difficulties, it was relaunched in 2007 and remains an active media outlet today. Gulf Times, Qatar’s pioneering English daily newspaper, debuted in 1978, followed by its sister publication Al-Raya in 1979 and Al-Watan in 1995. The Peninsula, Qatar’s second daily English newspaper, was introduced in 1996. It is a sister company of Al-Sharq, which is the second-oldest newspaper in Qatar and also boasts the highest circulation.

In tandem with the global decline of print newspapers and their circulation worldwide since the mid2000s, data from “Media Use in the Middle East 2019”, a survey published by Northwestern University in Qatar (Northwestern Qatar), highlights a significant shift in media consumption habits. Compared to 2013, a far greater share of Arab nationals in 2019 were obtaining news from the internet rather than from traditional media. In Qatar, print newspaper readership declined by over 50% between 2013 and 2019.


Established in 1996, Al Jazeera has emerged as a pioneering force in Qatar’s international broadcasting segment. With a reach extending to more than 430m households in over 150 countries, it represents the second-most-watched news channel in the MENA region. Despite receiving partial funding from the Qatari government, Al Jazeera positions itself as the first independent news channel in the Arab world, with a brand of journalism that has, at times, challenged traditional boundaries in the region – particularly during its coverage of the Arab Spring in 2011. Since its inception in Doha, Al Jazeera has expanded its presence to encompass more than 70 offices and a workforce of more than 3000 employees worldwide. Its premises in key global hubs such as Baghdad, Cairo, London, Moscow, Tehran and Washington, DC, among others, underscore the network’s global influence. Despite the closure of Al Jazeera America in 2016, the broadcaster’s impact has continued to grow – particularly in North Africa, which is home to higher viewership figures than the GCC region.

Qatar’s private broadcasters have significantly expanded their media presence in recent years, exemplified by the launch of Al-Araby TV in 2015. This London-based news channel, funded by Qatar-based Fadaat Media Group, targets Arabic-speaking youth and collaborates closely with Qatar’s state-funded satellite company, Es’hailSat. The channel expanded its offering with the 2022 launch of a sister channel, Alaraby2, focusing on cultural entertainment. Other specialised channels, such as Alkass TV, have also made a mark in the industry, particularly in sports coverage.

Launched in 2006 with a focus on Qatari domestic football and the 2006 Asian Games, Alkass Sports Channel has grown to become one of the region’s most popular sports channels, covering events across the GCC and international football matches. Additionally, Al Rayyan TV, launched in 2012 by Al Rayyan for Media and Marketing, serves as a platform to showcase Qatari culture and enhance the understanding and recognition of Qatar across the GCC.

SPORTS: Leading the way in sports promotion and broadcasting development in Qatar is beIN network, which was originally established in 2003 as Al Jazeera Sport and later rebranded in 2013. With exclusive broadcasting rights for major sports events and championships in MENA, beIN Sports endeavours to establish Qatar as a global centre for sports broadcasting. Beyond the region, beIN Sports operates channels in Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Darussalam, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, TimorLeste, Turkey and the US. Through its coverage of sports events and partnerships with football clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain, beIN Sports has improved Qatar’s standing in the global sports industry. Notably, the network achieved record viewership figures for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with the tournament garnering over 5.4bn cumulative views on its flagship channel across the MENA region – alongside an additional 1.1bn views on its official social media channels. The final match alone was watched by 242.8m viewers on beIN Sports’ free-to-air channel, representing 68% of MENA’s total adult population.

Film & Creative Economy

The country’s film industry has witnessed steady growth, marked by an increasing number of attendees and the expansion of screen infrastructure in recent years. While global cinema box-office revenue is expected to decline at a 2.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2019-24 according to international advisory firm PwC, MENA is anticipated to experience a 4% CAGR, rising to $1bn, during the same period. Despite having fewer screens per capita – 5.9 screens per 100,000 people in Qatar, compared to 12.4 screens per 100,000 people in the US as of 2019 – significant opportunities for future expansion exist. As a result, the cinema tickets subsector in Qatar is projected by German data platform Statista to generate revenue of $21.2m in 2024 and maintain a CAGR of 7.3% from 2024-28, resulting in a projected market volume of $28m by 2028.

Qatar is positioning itself as a regional filmmaking centre, with a focus on nurturing the local film industry through initiatives such as the Doha Film Institute (DFI), a non-profit cultural organisation established in 2010. DFI is dedicated to developing local filmmaking talent and supporting the financing and production of films for both domestic and international audiences. For example, DFI hosts two prominent film festivals, the Qumra initiative and the Ajyal Film Festival, that serve as platforms for filmmakers to showcase their work and engage with audiences. By 2023 DFI’s Qumra talent incubator had supported over 750 short films, features and series projects from 78 countries through its grants programme, providing assistance to filmmakers throughout the entire production process.

New Media

Qatar welcomed the world’s first commercially available 5G network and possesses one of the world’s highest internet penetration rates at 99.2%. With 4.9m active cellular mobile connections, equivalent to 181% of the total population, the country’s media consumption has shifted considerably towards digital and mobile platforms. Notably, Qatar ranks among the top countries globally in terms of social media usage, with 3m active users, representing 98.9% of the population, in 2023.

In April 2023 Facebook stood as the most popular social media platform, with 3.3m users – the majority of whom are aged between 25 and 34. Similarly, Qatar hosts 1.7m Instagram users, accounting for 55.9% of the population – with the largest demographic once again between the ages of 25 and 34, comprising 65% of total users. The popularity of social media platforms in the country provides attractive avenues for both longstanding and emergent media companies to reach younger consumers, which, in turn, generates new possibilities for advertising revenues.

Artificial Intelligence

Qatar has demonstrated a strong commitment to embracing innovative technologies as part of its smart technology transition, with digital investment projected to reach $5.7bn by 2026, up over threefold from $1.6bn in 2022, according to the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar. To adapt to this rapidly evolving landscape, educational institutions are preparing media professionals to navigate these new environments.

In 2024 Northwestern Qatar launched its Artificial Intelligence Initiative (AI ) to advance AI research and education. AI positions Northwestern Qatar to shape AI’s impact on higher education, global media and creative industries. The initiative includes joint curriculum development with Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, the establishment of an AI and Media Lab (AIM Lab) and a professional development programme for staff.


According to marketing consultancy WARC Media, the Middle East is poised to become the world’s fastest-growing advertising market, having reached a value of $5.9bn in 2022. Estimates suggest 10% growth in 2023 and a forecasted increase of 6.2% in 2024, with the market’s value expected to reach $6.9bn that year. While Saudi Arabia has been estimated to remain the largest market at $2bn in 2023, Qatar has emerged as a significant player despite having a much smaller population, with the latter’s market valued at $210m in 2022 and estimated at $215m for 2023, the fourth-highest spend in the Middle East.

While traditional advertising methods such as TV, newspapers, magazines and radio retain a share of the market, there is noticeable shift towards digital platforms. Qatar’s digital advertising market is forecast by Statista to register a 7% CAGR from 2024-28, reaching a market volume of $820.7m in 2028. Spending in the digital advertising market is projected to hit $626.8m for 2024 – led by search advertising with a market volume of $219.9m, equalling an average advertising spending per internet user of $75.50. At the same time, mobile is expected to generate 46% of total spending in the digital advertising market by 2028. Social media advertising is also a significant component, and a projected market volume of $199.5m in 2024 and CAGR of 5% from 2024-28 may result in $242.9m of spending by 2028.


The past two decades have witnessed Qatar’s emergence as a regional media centre, driven by the broadcasting success of Al Jazeera and strategic initiatives such as MCQ. With ongoing support from the government and access to modern technology and abundant resources, media outlets are well-positioned to expand their global reach. Benefitting from its physical infrastructure and digital connectivity, access to top-tier talent from prestigious universities, diverse population and high level of internet penetration, Qatar’s media landscape is poised for sustained growth and success within the foreseeable future.