Al Jazeera's move into retail comes as part of a larger expansion by the network. Late last year, Al Jazeera Sports Channel became the undisputed king of sports broadcasting in the region when it reportedly paid more than a US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) for all of Arab Radio and Television's sports rights, including the coveted 2010 FIFA World Cup.
"There is a whole strategy, starting with the big vision for the sports channel to be number one, as the news channel is, and as the documentary channel is," said Dr Abdul Aziz al Horr, the director of Al Jazeera's bureau of corporate development. "We will not accept number two in any area we approach. Therefore, this acquisition was part of our really being a leader in sports in the area." Such expansion is expensive, Dr al Horr conceded, but declined to specify how long each venture had before it was expected to turn a profit.
"With every single project, with every single acquisition we make, there is a feasibility study," he said. "The phases are there, the costs are there. There is no single move without a study." Although the time required to make money varied by project, he said, all operated under a single principle. "We don't ever sacrifice our quality or our core business," he said. "Always, our quality in the news comes first, then the commercial comes second.
"So the content is our whole focus, because the content is attached to the people." firstname.lastname@example.org