"It's exciting that news about Sweden can now be read by Arabic speakers around the world," said The Local's managing editor James Savage.
After a test launch of the site at Sweden's embassy in Cairo on October 13th, the site was officially launched with a ceremony held on Wednesday at the Foreign Ministry attended by trade minister Ewa Björling and ambassadors from several Arabic speaking countries.
“The site is aimed largely towards a young audience which constitute an important part of the demographic profile in the region,” Björling said in a statement.
Unfortunately censorship was used to prohibit any kind of interaction with us, not realising that such a move is futile in this day and age.
Our audiences, in their search for truth and the values we abide by, will always find a way to access our content.
At the time of Al Jazeera's launch Arabsat was the only satellite broadcasting to the Middle East, and for the first year could only offer Al Jazeera a weak C-band transponder that needed a large satellite dish for reception.
A more powerful K Al Jazeera was not the first such broadcaster in the Middle East; a number had appeared since the Arabsat satellite, a Saudi Arabia-based venture of 21 Arab governments, took orbit in 1985.Our news and opinion pieces, as well as our continued coverage of developments and issues, have upheld truth and provided an open space for discussion and the exchange of opinions.We feel that we have been successful in all of these, and the recent upsurge of activity on social media sites following the barring of our website that expressed support for us can been seen via the Arabic hashtag حجب_العربي_الجديد# We condemn this regrettable act of censorship by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Emirates and Egypt as we have always aimed to provide a platform for different political ideas and social change in a responsible and respectful manner, abiding by the highest professional ethics, ensuring that we do not deceive our readers.The website offers advice on everything from what to do while visiting, to information about working in Sweden and housing.Since the site was first launched, additional languages have been added, including Spanish, German, French, Russian, and Chinese. In addition to general information about Sweden, the site also features selected news stories previously published on The Local and translated into Arabic.The decision was taken last week by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture and Media to block our website, followed by the United Arab Emirates a few days later and the Egyptian authorities yesterday.