First Emirati Media Forum discusses Emiratisation

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Minister says the country realised how technological advances have impacted the media sector.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, attended the opening of the first Emirati Media Forum (UAEMF), organised by the Dubai Press Club.

Anwar Mohammed Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the country realised how technological advances have impacted the media sector.

He praised Shaikh Mohammed, saying that he is the first Arab leader, who has devoted pages on social media networking platforms to communicate directly with Emiratis. He pointed to the recent initiative of Shaikh Mohammed, where he invited feedback from the public through social networks in areas of health care and education in a series of discussions with the UAE Cabinet.

The UAEMF dedicated a full session to discuss the issue of Emiratisation of the media sector in the UAE. “The government policy in this regard is clear. The UAE Foreign Minister, Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the Chairman of the National Media Council, stressed that Emiratisation of the media sector is an objective, national and ethical responsibility, in which we should all join hands,” Gargash said.

“Emiratisation of jobs in national media institutions is pegged at 25 per cent, and that rate might have gone up slightly over the past six months, but the paramount question is: How do we increase that rate?” he asked.

“We are undertaking a major initiative to boost Emiratisation in the media sector including holding open days for recruitment by major media organisations with the support of the journalists’ associations where students could interact with the recruiters and understand their requirements,” said Ibrahim Al Abed, Director-General of the National Media Council.

Mona Ghanim Al Marri, Director-General of the Government of Dubai Media Office, said the idea of the forum was inspired by the vision of Shaikh Mohammed for the future of the UAE.

“This vision requires painstaking efforts to take our media to the level in which it can compete at the forefront on Arab and international levels,” she said.

On the objectives of the forum, she said: “We want this forum to serve as a quality addition to the national efforts being made to upgrade our media and boost its stature.

Dubai Press Club Director Mona Bousamra termed the forum as a “significant initiative” launched by the club. She said the new strategy of the club focussed primarily on youth.

Golden era of Emirati media

Forum participants unanimously declared that Emirati media is witnessing its golden era.

A number of gifted youth from the media spoke in the session titled ‘Emirati media innovations: successful experiences’. These include Mustafa Al Zarooni, City Editor, Khaleej Times; Futaim Al Falasi, radio anchor; Atheer Shakar from Dubai Media Incorporated; Shaikha Al Maskari, writer and founding member of Masdar news website; and Yasser Al Niadi, writer and producer.

The speakers demonstrated the obstacles they faced, and the opportunities provided to them to excel in their fields.

“We have freedom, but we do not take advantage of this facility due to lack of courage,” Al Zarooni said, stressing that Arabic newspapers utilise just 30 per cent of that freedom, while English dailies utilise 50 per cent.

“This is due to the fear of obstructing an advertisement or a government department’s frustration over reports, among other reasons.”

Zarooni attributed the decline in the rate of Emiratisation in media to several reasons: poor wages, lack of suitable training programmes and absence of trust in the GCC media.

A number of new graduates, he said, “have no guts” to shoot questions or speak with officials.

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