The Arabsat satellite system could have wide-ranging effects on telecommunications in the Arab world and ultimately expand the reach and influence of Arab television and news agencies.
At 8:22 p.m. on February 8, an Ariane rocket blasted off in a ball of flame from the darkened jungles of French Guiana, carrying the Arab world's first communications satellite - Arabsat-A - into space.
Arabsat: A Dream Fulfilled
"Soon after sunset, the palaces...began to be illuminated," wrote young Elizabeth Washburn as she started a vivid first-hand account of a historic fete for a sultan.
In 1982, Pascale Franconie and Jean-Claude Cazade mounted two Arab stallions in France and headed for Arabia - on a ride that would last two years, two months and 13 days.