As the young billionaire rulers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar attempt to assert their geopolitical dominance, one of the best-known brands in the Middle East, Al-Jazeera, is in the firing line.
Al-Jazeera has been a constant thorn in the side of its neighbors. The news network was the first independent media network in the Middle East, winning plaudits with more than 20 years of broadcasting. But after the Arab Spring, Doha was forced to tone down coverage to maintain stability in neighboring countries, especially in Bahrain.
Qatar has been forging an independent foreign policy since the discovery of gas and a palace coup where the former emir ousted his pro-Saudi leaning father. Since 1995, the country has been on a tear with a construction boom reshaping the desert state. While Qataris are the world's richest per capita ($130,000), more than 35 percent live under the national poverty line in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
"The State of Qatar recognizes that a decision to close Al-Jazeera will infringe on their sovereignty," Wadah Khanfar, the former director general of Al-Jazeera, told CNBC in a phone interview. "The independence of the state is at risk. If they move against Al-Jazeera what next? They will stand firm."