Qatar’s first pure-play online news source, the English-language Doha News website was created in 2009 by two US journalists, Shabina Khatri and Omar Chatriwala, who used to work for the Wall Street Journal and Al Jazeera English. But even foreign-language media outlets are not spared by Qatar’s censors and draconian legislative arsenal. Doha News has tried to differentiate itself from Qatar’s traditional, pro-government media and to initiate a real public debate within its society. Its bold coverage of political, economic and social stories that are controversial or get little coverage in the other media has turned it into one of Qatar’s leading news sources.
The site was blocked for the first time on 30 November 2016 in what its editors regarded as deliberate act of censorship. When they realized that the authorities were accusing them of not having a proper license to operate in Qatar, they decided to relocate outside the country pending resolution of the situation, in order not to be declared illegal. The Qatari authorities meanwhile continue to block access to Doha News.