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(From left) Bertil Wiklander, Adventist Church president for Trans-Europe; Kjell Aune, church president in the Middle East; Amir Ghali, Al Waad director; and Brad Thorp, president of Hope Channel, unveil the church's new media center in Beirut. [photo: courtesy Al Waad Media Center]
February 22, 2010 | Beirut, Lebanon | Victor Hulbert and Miroslav Pujic/ANN Staff
A new Seventh-day Adventist television channel in Beirut is expected to help spread the church's message of hope among Arabic-speaking communities in the Middle East, a region "rich in Biblical history," its director said last week.
Church leaders said the Al Waad Channel, launched along with the Al Waad Media Center February 13 at a packed Middle East Adventist University Church, will potentially reach an audience of more than 300 million Arabic speakers in the region.
The channel will "[share] hope with the Arab world and build bridges of understanding," said Kjell Aune, Adventist Church president for the Middle East.
The Al Waad Channel is the newest member of the global Hope Channel, the Adventist Church's official television network.
While the media center plans to include a radio and Internet presence as well, television is the team's current priority -- some 90 percent of the local community members watch television daily, while only 30 percent listen to the radio and just over 2 percent regularly use the Internet, church leaders said.
The Al Waad Channel, which derives its name from the Arabic word for "promise," offers "the promise of hope" to the region, said Director Amir Ghali, who brings to the job a decade of experience producing radio programs for the Adventist World Radio's Cyprus studio.
Salim Sahyouni, head of the Protestant Church in Syria and Lebanon, also spoke at the launch, applauding the new media center as part of a broader effort in the region to work toward not only physical peace, but also "everlasting" spiritual peace in Jesus.