Radio Sawa Delivers Arab and American Popular Music
By Vicki Silverman
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- An American
visitor, who recently returned from Jordan, said he heard Radio
Sawa playing in the taxicabs, fast
food restaurants and in the gyms that have become a popular outlet
for the young urban elite in Amman. "It sounded so good; the music
is great," he told the Washington File.
Mouafac Harb, one of
the principle creative forces behind Radio Sawa, says he's not
surprised by this report. "Today's Arab pop
music has a rock beat. When you mix Arab and Western hits they
just sound so good together."
"Music is part of our format and, in radio, format is key. But
'Radio Sawa' offers a lot more," Harb told the Washington File
Greeting us in his modest
office located in the U.S. government building that houses Voice
of America (VOA), Harb apologized for
his casual appearance. "I've been up for 24 hours," he said.
"Radio Sawa is now broadcasting the news 24 hours a day, seven
days a week. We have our own newsroom, our own wires and our own
correspondents. We're not policy makers. We're journalists," he
"We offer two news stops every hour, giving up-to-date, objective
and accurate information. This is something new for our listeners
-- fast-paced, concise news bulletins that go straight to the point," he
Asked why he believes
this will appeal to young people in the Arab world, Harb drew
on his experience to say, "There is glut
of Arabic-language media outlets that cater to emotions and the
sensational. Some people want the sensational, but others want
to know and we're now the only station that brings you this package
in Arabic, commercial-free, 24 hours a day."
Mouafac Harb, an energetic 35-year old Lebanese-American, brings
considerable experience and perspective to Radio Sawa. He may be
best known in the Arab world as the former Washington bureau chief
for al Hayat, the Saudi-owned, Arabic language daily newspaper
based in London.
He also worked for four-years
at ABC's "Nightline" program, one
of the most reputable in-depth television news programs in the
United States. "Nightline" is remembered in the Arab world for
its 1989 groundbreaking series of broadcasts of town meetings with
Palestinian leaders from Jerusalem. Prior to his work at "Nightline," Harb
worked in Lebanon, setting up a private television and radio station
from scratch that became one of the most popular in Lebanon within
This year Harb joined
the team of broadcast professionals, headed by Norman Pattiz,
that created "Radio Sawa," as a totally new concept,
funded by the U.S. Congress, for conveying America's image to audiences
aged 25 and under in the Arabic-speaking world.
There are plans to expand both the radio coverage and the news
content. Harb wants to draw on his contacts in within Washington's
official and press circles to produce longer news features that
are of particular interest to young people in the Arab world.
As Radio Sawa's operation
and programming expand, Mouafac Harb says his news focus will
remain on providing information that is
objective and accurate. Noting that the news operation is fully
digitalized, he sees Radio Sawa "using 21st century technology
to deliver the clearest, fastest audio picture of news events."
Today Radio Sawa can be heard on FM in the West Bank, Jordan (Amman
- 98.1 FM), Kuwait (95.7 FM), the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi
- 98.7 FM), Dubai (90.5 FM), Qatar and Bahrain.
Information on Radio
Sawa is available on the Internet at http://www.ibb.gov/radiosawa/.
Along with Radio Sawa, this Internet site will be expanding its
content and expects to offer on-line listening and inter-actives
by late summer 2002.
Interview on Free Iraq
TV/Radio Sawa with Mouafac Harb Secretary
Colin L. Powell, Washington,
DC April 24, 2003