Just 38 years old, it has been a meteoric rise to the top for Khanfar, who now heads up the entire Al Jazeera network - including its live English and Arabic news channels, its sports channels, its website and a new documentary channel. Al Jazeera is now one of the most recognisable brands in the world, and in terms of influencing Arab opinion, there is no bigger medium than Al Jazeera. According to an Interbrand survey, Al Jazeera's brand in the news channel sector is bigger than that of CNN and the BBC. A sign of the network's influence was the revelation last year of President Bush's remarks about bombing its headquarters in Doha, so concerned was he that the channel was too influential in the Arab world.
Khanfar was managing director for two years before taking the top post in 2006, and is credited for much of the company's restructuring. After taking the job, he said: "Our statistics show that most Arabs look up to Al Jazeera as their most reliable source of news. The masses watch us; the rulers and the elite find us an important source of information; they're concerned about what we cover. Al Jazeera has changed the political landscape in the Middle East forever.
People now receive the opposition's discourse directly. Al Jazeera opened it up for intellectuals, thinkers and critics to speak their mind. It was the first democratic exercise in the region. The Arab world is changing. Reform, democracy and freedom of speech are issues integral to this period of transformation."
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