Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 32578
Conspiracy Theory in Discussions of the Coronavirus Pandemic in the Gulf Region

Authors: Rasha Salameh


In light of the tense relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran, this research paper sheds some light on Saudi-owned television network, Al-Arabiya’s reporting of the Coronavirus in the Gulf region. Particularly because most of the cases in the beginning were coming from Iran, some programs of this Saudi channel embraced a conspiracy theory. Hate speech has been used in the talking and discussions about the topic. The results of these discussions will be detailed in this paper in percentages with regard to the research sample, which includes five programs on the Al-Arabiya channel: ‘DNA’, ‘Marraya’ (Mirrors), ‘Panorama’, ‘Tafaolcom’ (Your Interaction) and ‘Diplomatic Street’, in the period between January 19, that is, the date of the first case in Iran, and April 10, 2020. The research shows the use of a conspiracy theory in the programs, in addition to some professional violations. The surveyed sample also shows that the matter receded due to the Arab Gulf states' preoccupation with the successively increasing cases that have appeared there since the start of the pandemic. The results indicate that hate speech was present in the sample at a rate of 98.1%, and that most of the programs that dealt with the Iranian issue under the Coronavirus pandemic on Al Arabiya used the conspiracy theory at a rate of 75.5%.

Keywords: Al-Arabiya, Iran, COVID-19, hate speech, conspiracy theory, politicization of the pandemic

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 368


[1] Aghaie Joobani, H. (2014). Al-Arabiya: “The Saudi Voice” in the Arab World. Asian politics & policy-volume 6.
[2] Ahmed, A. and Al-Shayazami, M. (2018). Media of the Gulf Crisis: Hate Speech, Doha Center for Media Freedom, Doha, Qatar.
[3] Al Arab Newspaper (2020). Corona feeds the conspiracy theory in the Russian media. ( Date of Access (23/8/2020).
[4] Al-Haddad, Yusef Jumaa (2020). The Role of the Media in Facing the Crises Coronavirus as a Model, Shield of the Nation Magazine, United Arab Emirates.
[5] Alian, Omar. (2015). The language of political news correspondents in Al-Arabiya channel: semantic study, unpublished master's thesis, Deanship of Postgraduate Studies, Al-Azhar University, Gaza, Palestine.
[6] Alkhereiji, M. (2020). GCC officials blast Iran for coronavirus spread. The Arab Weekly,
[]. Date of access (15/08/2020).
[7] Al-Majid, Osama (2020). Iran exported terrorism to us, and today it exports Corona. Al-Bilad newspaper ( Date of Access (11/08/2020).
[8] Al-Mansour, A. (2018). Arab newspapers cover Trump's decision, "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel." Journal of Gaza University, (12) 22, 68-76.
[9] Al-Mazahra, Manal (2012). Communication Theories. 1st. edition. Amman: Dar Al Masirah for Publishing, Distribution and Printing.
[10] Al-Mousa, Muhammad (2020). Determinants of Satellite News Coverage of the Corona Pandemic in the Era of Digitization. Media Studies, Al Jazeera Studies Center.
[11] Al-Rubaie, Bairaq Hussain. (2019). The role of social media in building hate speech, the international conference on hate speech and its impact on community coexistence and regional and international peace, Salahuddin University, Erbil, Iraq.
[12] Al-Saggaf, Yeslam. (2008). Electronic media and the Arab public sphere: Al-Arabiya website as an example. School of Computing and Mathematics, Charles Sturt University, Australia.
[13] Alskaji, Omar Ahmed. (2018). Analyzing the content of scientific programs in children's Arabic satellite channels and investigating their effects as an informal context in learning science. PhD thesis, University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan.
[14] Bielsko, H. & Biata, A. (2015), Model of effective fight against hate speech Report on combating hate speech on the internet, The Bielsko Artistic Association “Grodzki Theatre”.
[15] Dalati, Yaman (2020). Media in Pandemic Time. How did the Arab and international media respond to the Corona crisis? (, Date of Access (25/07/2020).
[16] Elias, S. (2020). The politicization of the virus: Corona revives conspiracy theories in Russia. Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper, ( Date of Access (27/07/2020).
[17] Fawzi, Mohammed (2017). The role of television in prioritizing political issues among the Bahraini public. Bahrain Institute for Political Development, (2) 9, 1-172.
[18] George, Cherian. Hate Speech A Dilemma for Journalists the World Over, Ethical Journalism Network ( entry date (5/11/2020).
[19] Gogarty, K. & Hagle, C. (2020). A guide to right-wing media reactions and conspiracy theories surrounding coronavirus, Date of access (26/08/2020).
[20] Hassouna, Nisreen (2015). Content Analysis: Its Concept, Determinants and Uses. Algeria: Osama House for Publishing and Distribution.
[21] Hassouna, Nisreen. (2018). "Theories of Media and Communication." Alukah Network (
[22] Johnson, J., Fahmy, S., Thomas, A. (2010). Who wins the hearts and minds of the Arab audience? Examining how Arab viewers judge the credibility of Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Al Hurra, and the local Arab stations, International Communication Research Journal.
[23] Maabara, Tamara. (2019). Five ethical standards in the face of hate speech, Akeed website ( entry date (5/11/2020).
[24] McQuail, D. (2000). Mass Communication Theory. 4th edition, Sage Publications, London, UK.
[25] Michael J. (2011). Agenda-Setting Theory and the Role of the Media in Shaping Public Opinion for the Iraq War. A research paper in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, (University of Central Missouri: Department of Communication, April, 2011).
[26] Nasr, Wissam (2003). Agenda of the interests of the websites of the authorities concerned with Egyptian women affairs - a comparative study." Egyptian Journal of Public Opinion Research, 9 (2), Cairo University, Egypt.
[27] Neuendorf, Kimberly A. (2002). The Content Analysis Guidebook. London, Sage Publications.
[28] Niring, K. (2020). Corona, AIDS and the plague: diseases of conspiracy theories! ( Date of Access (25/07/2020).
[29] Radnitz, S. (2020). Why conspiracy theories spread faster than coronavirus? The Guardian ( Date of access (22/08/2020).
[30] Shalaby, Mona (2020). The Role of the Media in Confronting Corona. Elaph Newsletter ( Date of access (9/22/2020).
[31] Shorfa, Elias (2015). Data Analysis and Qualitative Reading: A Content Analysis Method. University of Skikda Journal (4) 3، 122-131.
[32] Tantawi, O. (2008). The Dialectics of Power in a Global Media Scene A Comparative Study of Five International Television News Channels CNN, al Arabiya, al Jazeera, BBC, and al Jazeera English, Master thesis, The American University in Cairo, Egypt.
[33] Vane, J. & Kalvas, Frantisek. (2013). The Agenda Setting Effect of Focusing Events: A Case Study of the Church Restitutions Issue. University of West Bohemia Journal, (45) 3, 291-292