May 06, 2021
Speakers at 6th edition of Emirati Media Forum call for integrated media strategy in the UAE
The Dubai Press Club (DPC) concluded the 6th edition of the Emirati Media Forum (EMF) with a call for urgently developing an integrated media strategy that can enhance the sector’s ability to keep pace with the UAE’s achievements and support the country in realising its future ambitions.
Key media personalities, heads of UAE media institutions, managing editors, editors-in-chief of local newspapers and prominent writers, thinkers, intellectuals and academics participated in the one-day Forum held at the Dubai Press Club on Wednesday night. As part of the priority given to safety, the event was held in compliance with precautionary measures outlined by authorities.
Speakers discussed key issues related to the local media sector including the future of the local media industry, the country’s media strategy in times of crises and the role of social media influencers.
Highlighting key industry issues in the first session “The Future of UAE Media”, Her Excellency Mona Ghanem Al Marri, President of the Dubai Press Club, said the UAE requires a clear and integrated national media strategy that can be followed across all media institutions and government communication entities.
Al Marri said there is a critical need to unify efforts of various media outlets across all levels and optimise performance. Investment in human capital needs to be increased in line with the high priority given by the UAE on nurturing skill development to create a large pool of talent in the country. Consistent with this priority, the Government of Dubai Media Office hired young Emirati talent as freelancers to support the organisation’s media-related efforts to combat COVID-19 at the onset of the pandemic, she said.
“Furthermore, the local media also needs to find innovative ways to develop their content. They must give talent acquisition and development the highest priority and provide talented professionals the opportunities to develop themselves so that their ideas and contributions can be leveraged to strengthen the UAE media’s regional impact,” Al Marri said.
The President of DPC noted that apart from creating an integrated media strategy to address challenges facing the local media, the sector should also engage in an internal dialogue to analyse its current state and future. The youth must be involved and their voices must be heard in order to benefit from their experiences, she stressed.
Other key media personalities who participated in the first session included Mona Bu Samra, Editor-in-Chief of Al Bayan; Dr. Hessa Lootah; Mohamed Al-Hammadi, Chair of the Board of Directors for the UAE Journalists Association; Hamad Al Kaabi Editor-in-Chief, Al-Ittihad Newspaper; Raed Barqawi, Editor-in-Chief of Al Khaleej; Mustafa Al Zarooni, UAE Editor of Khaleej Times; and Sarah Al Jarman Director of General Channels in Dubai Media Inc.
Role of UAE media during crises
The second session of EMF discussed the role of the UAE media sector during crises and its ability to adapt to the political, economic, social and health transformations taking place around the world. The session also shed light on the experiences of the country’s media during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Speakers who participated in the discussion included Mohammed Jalal Al Raisi, Executive Director of the Emirates News Agency, WAM; Sami Al Reyami, Editor-in-Chief of Emarat Al Youm; Mohamed Al-Hammadi; Mona Bu Samra; and Mansour Al Mansouri, Former Director General of the National Media Council. The session was moderated by Majed Al Farisi from Sky News Arabia and Sharjah TV hostess Reem Saif Al Mamari.
Participants said the UAE media have always risen to the challenge in an emergency or crisis situation, noting that they demonstrated the highest professionalism and transparency during the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, further research and evaluation are needed to ensure clear positive outcomes during crises. A media strategy created specifically to address crises will support this. All media institutions should develop individual plans and strategies also to contribute to this objective, the speakers said
The participating speakers unanimously commended the UAE media for its impactful coverage during the COVID-19 outbreak and its ability to deliver credible information while maintaining high levels of integrity and professionalism despite challenging circumstances.
They noted that the local media is capable of expanding its reach going beyond print. The readership of their digital platforms has been on the rise especially during the pandemic. Readers in the UAE consider local media outlets as trusted sources of news and information.
Role of New Media
The last session of EMF was dedicated to the role of new media and the transformations sweeping across the sector. The key focus was the role of social media influencers.
Participants in the session included His Excellency Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of the Defence, Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee in the Federal National Council (FNC); Dherar Belhoul Al Falasi, Member of the FNC and Director General of the Watani Al Emarat Foundation; Majed Al Suwaidi, the Managing Director of Dubai Media City; Mustafa Al Zarooni; and other TV personalities and influencers.
Al Nuaimi said the diversity of topics and content presented in the UAE media has been the secret of its success. The majority of Emirati influencers have contributed constructive and useful content on social media platforms and only a few are after fame.
His Excellency said influencers must be aware of their responsibilities on social media and cautioned about the dangers of sharing false and negative information. It is vital that influencers are not controlled but are given the freedom needed to raise their ability to produce good content. However, they should be careful about what they share with their followers and be wary of the potential negative impact of their content.
Participants emphasised that social media influencers have a responsibility to convey a positive image of the UAE to the world. They said many influencers have been committed to doing that during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Emirati Media Forum is a platform for dialogue between players across the media spectrum. It provides an opportunity to discuss developments in the media industry as well as local and regional issues, while providing a bridge of communication between local media organisations, journalists, experts and specialists in various media fields. It seeks to give local media outlets insights and knowledge on how they can develop the leadership capabilities required to excel and sustain their growth.