Finding their new offices is not easy when you’re more used to the West Bay scenery and the buildings like the imposing headquarters of the Qatar Media Corporation or Al Jazeera network, bordering TV roundabout.
To get to Al Rayyan, please do not follow the signs as there are none. Do not expect a flashy building either. Maybe, like us, you will we be tempted to turn back, surprised with the lack of clues directing you to your final destination. Finally, a polite waiter guided us to a traditional building, very charming it was, Al Rayyan.
Luxury, peace and simplicity
A double wooden door opens on a paved courtyard. We could imagine thoroughbred Arabian horses rear before us. But instead, a few men are welcoming the guests that were invited for the launch. They are mainly journalists.
The fact that this brand new channel decided to settle in the ancient heart of Doha may seem inconsistent. But this did not happen by chance as Al Rayyan will be the guardian of the Qatari identity, at a time where Qatar’s unprecedented economic boom is attracting hundreds of thousands of people coming from all over the world.
Following the development of ambitious projects in the north of Doha (West Bay, Pearl and now Lusail), the old town now turns to its heyday.
From the construction of the Islamic Art Museum to the fabulous urban regeneration project Musheireb Doha tries to show an authentic Qatar in all its glory to her inhabitants and to the rest of the world who is more and more attracted to Qatar.
To make the authentic Qatar known to the rest of the world
This is also the new channel mission explains the programme director, Hamad al Zikaba to DCMF. “It’s the best time to show Qatar to the rest of the world and highlighting typical Qataris aspects. Al Rayyan is the identity and the Qatari culture guardian” he said insisting on the fact that “Al Rayyan supports Qatar vision 2030”.
The programmes schedule reflects the Arab values "of culture and hospitality" through a bunch of daily shows pre-recorded on current affairs, documentaries and children programmes.
The channel will broadcast from 6 am to midnight in Qatar but also on Nilesat through all the Middle East, Europe and in the United States. From midnight to 6 am the programmes will be dedicated to prays and to the Quran recitation.
To fulfill this mission in the best way, Al Rayyan has invested in the construction of two massive recording studios and four tv sets for the different talk-shows.
Pride and outcome of the project
In the patio at the entrance, employees and journalists invited mingled. In the majlis, they watch eagerly on three screens the first pictures. All eyes are lost in the numbers scrolling on the screen: yet 52 minutes and 19 seconds.
Meanwhile, Mr Fahad Bin Ali al Kaabi tells how he joined the channel in September 2011. Invited by Mr Al Zikana, Al Kaabi quit his previous job to be fully involved in Al Rayyan at this time it was still in preparation. “I am a producer and script writer. I am also in charge of sending crews on the ground.”
Mr Al Kaabi whose first experience in tv says he is “proud” to work for this channel which “for the first time” most of the staff is Qatari. He is also glad that his Excellency the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani will follow the channel that he has partly financed.
Live on air
It’s 7.59pm. The faces have suddenly clenched. In a few seconds, Al Rayyan will finally exist, five years after the project was born.
They all gather around different tv screens. The scene and the atmosphere lightly tense are familiar and seem like a family gathering: uncles, brothers, cousins who would have gathered to follow a football finale, or something like that.
Three, two, one… the channel is finally on air. The first pictures quality is unquestionable and they show the different presenters and atmospheres that we will be able to witness on Al Rayyan.
The employees finally are released from the pressure that they have hided. Handshakes, the new colleagues congratulate each other on this success.
The evening is over for our reporter who thinks already to invite the Centre to move out its offices to the Souq Waqif. What is more normal in Doha than to park your car in front of a camel enclosure and to have for neighbours tens of falcons and carpet sellers? This is what brings us together.