CNN increases ME coverage with new programme

MUMBAI: CNN will devote more time and analysis to the Middle East region. It will launch a half hour monthly programme Inside the Middle East. The show premieres on 5 October at 6 pm.

An official release informs that the programme will focus on the economic, social and cultural affairs of the Middle East, as well as highlighting travel and future trends in the region. The series will showcase the Middle East?s rich cultural heritage, as well as the dynamic and contemporary developments taking place throughout this complex and often misunderstood region.

CNN International's executive VP and GM Rena Golden added, "Inside the Middle East will be a voyage of discovery in a region rich in history, character and personalities which is often overshadowed by conflict. With the launch of this program dedicated to the region and its people, CNN aims to bring its audience an insight and deeper understanding into this diverse, complex and fascinating area and will give viewers the chance to see the Middle East in a broader context".

The Middle East has been blessed with determined, innovative people who have shaped civilisation. The region can lay claim to the discovery of farming, irrigation, pottery, writing, even the wheel. The Inside the Middle East team will explore the land, meet some of the region's present-day mavericks, and encounter its most fascinating places - desert scapes, forgotten cities, underwater adventures, ancient civilisations and bustling modern urban centers.

Each episode will consist of three in-depth reports on the people, places and issues that are shaping the Middle East. Topics will be as diverse as the region itself - ranging from new water dam construction, the best ski-slopes in Lebanon, to candid interviews with some of the region's most familiar faces. Viewers who are planing to visit the region can savour theInside Guide feature. Each month, a different local character will give a whirlwind tour of the best places to eat, sleep and sightsee in their city.

The show will be hosted by Rula Amin. Reports will come in from CNN repotrers including Christiane Amanpour, Jane Arraf, Rym Brahimi, Nic Robertson, Brent Sadler and Ben Wedeman, as well as contributions from CNN?s bureaus in Cairo, Jerusalem, Beirut and Dubai. Broadcasting to an audience of over 165 million households in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia and the United States, the programme will draw on CNN?s newsgathering expertise throughout the Middle East to profile all facets of the region.

The debut episode sees Amin taking the viewers to Socotra Island off the Yemeni coast. Socotra is a quasi-undiscovered and unique island with a large number of indigenous plants and birds not found anywhere else. Its people speak a language which is of ancient pre-Islamic origin and is spoken nowhere else in the world. Socotra has the potential of becoming a top-end eco-tourism destination (comparable to the Galapagos Islands) but could also end up damaging its natural and cultural beauty as a result of poor investments.

In the same show East meets West in the fashion world. Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab has dressed some of the world's most glamorous women, including Halle Berry at the 2002 Academy Awards to Queen Rania of Jordan at her coronation. Saab's designs invoke a sense of timeless beauty -- because of his use of luxurious fabrics, intricate embroidery and Middle Eastern accents. CNN's Brent Sadler talks to the designer about his influences and his sought-after style.

In the first Inside Guide, viewers are taken off-the-beaten path in Dubai, for a tour of the city?s most alluring attractions.

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