The session “The Role of the Emirati Media During Crises”, which was held within the activities of the sixth edition of the “Emirati Media Forum” in Dubai, discussed the importance and impact of the role of the Emirati media during crises in particular, and the extent of its ability to adapt to the health, economic and social changes that the whole world is witnessing.
The session moderated at the headquarters of the Dubai Press Club was presented by Reem Saif Al Maamari, from Sharjah Media Corporation, and Majed Al Farsi, from Sky News Arabia, with the participation and presence of Emirati media leaders, chief editors of local newspapers, major writers and media figures in the country, and a group of Academics and those involved in the sector, a practical assessment of the manner in which the Emirati media has dealt with crises over the past few years; Especially the global crisis brought on by the “Covid-19” pandemic, with the aim of reaching scenarios for developing an effective national media strategy in dealing with crises.
Mohammed Jalal Al Raisi, Director General of the Emirates News Agency, “WAM”, confirmed during the session that the Emirati media, with all its institutions, is present and successful in managing emergency crises that have a reach to the country, indicating that the national media during the crisis of the “Covid-19” pandemic, The level of the event and the responsibility thanks to the professionalism and confidence he gained from investigating credibility and dealing with utmost transparency and impartiality with the repercussions of the crisis and its various dimensions and effects on society.
Al-Raisi said: We are sorely lacking research and evaluations that provide clear outcomes for each crisis, and he believed that this challenge is reinforced by the absence of a media strategy to be activated during crises, which forces each media organization to find individual media plans and strategies, pointing out that the UAE has reached its vision. Mars, but our local media did not reach the level of ambition of the state, pointing out that self-transparency requires us to review ourselves and re-evaluate the way we work so that we are all in this sector with the responsibility and aspirations of the wise leadership.
In his turn, Sami Al-Riyami, editor-in-chief of Emirates Today, said that our national media undoubtedly plays a positive role during crises, but on the other hand faces a number of challenges, the most prominent of which is the lack of specialized media in some fields, especially the developmental, scientific and health media. The absence of media specialties is due to the greater extent of the budgets enjoyed by these media institutions, and it is no longer a secret of the financial exhaustion that some media institutions suffer from.
He added that the local media, regarding the recent crisis related to the spread of the Coronavirus, succeeded unmatchedly in producing influential content with cadres, most of which were working far from their offices.
Al-Riyami said that we are passing through a phase in which no one pays any attention to the suffering of the press, although we are in dire need of support, pointing out that the Emirati press is able to develop its journalistic tools and not rely completely on paper work, and it succeeded in that during the pandemic, as evidenced by the increase in the number of newspaper readers. Emirates Today », where the newspaper’s content was viewed on digital platforms during mid-2019, three million followers, while the number doubled during the second half of 2020 to nine million followers, thanks to the innovative tools used to produce new content.
Mohammed Al Hammadi, President of the Emirates Journalists Association, pointed out that the media sector in the whole world is experiencing crises that we all know, and the Emirati media is part of this general situation, pointing to the importance of the speed factor in transmitting information and communicating the media message during the crisis, and the need to be accurate, transparent, honest and courageous. In dealing with events so as not to leave the field open for rumors and misinterpretation in the event of delay in delivering the message to the recipient in a timely manner.
The session dealt with the issue of trust between the recipient and the local media, and do some people resort to obtaining information and news from external media? Where the participants indicated that there is great confidence on the part of the recipient in the local media, and that there is a need to raise the ceiling in media dealing with some files so that the media can work within an integrated system that serves the national agenda and the firm positions of the UAE.
In this context, Mona Bousamra, the responsible editor-in-chief of Al-Bayan newspaper, indicated that the Corona pandemic posed a challenge to all media institutions in the world, and the media confusion that occurred at the beginning of the crisis was caused by the nature and size of the unexpected health crisis, stressing that the local media did not remain in the circle of confusion. For a long time, he quickly rearranged his priorities and rectified the situation until he became the first reliable source for society to obtain information related to the developments of the situation, locally and globally, and we were helped in this by the strong media and technical infrastructure of the state, which was highly supportive of the Emirati newspapers to launch new tools that directly reach the reader. And in an influential manner across various digital platforms.
Bousamra said that there is an actual need for an integrated strategy through which we can address transient crises, especially the stereotype that some international media try to propagate about the state to undermine its successes.
She indicated the need for the local media to have sufficient confidence when discussing the various issues that are in the interest of the nation, and not hesitating to direct responsible and constructive criticism to our media institutions out of a national sense aimed at addressing the negatives and accessing the best services, stressing that criticizing some negatives does not harm the image of the local media. On the contrary, it may be in the interest of society.
In turn, Mansour Al Mansouri, the former Director General of the National Media Council, said, “We need to pay attention to the speed factor in transmitting messages and information and delivering them to the public, and we also need to develop media content to fit what young people are looking for, noting that the UAE Media Forum constitutes a nucleus for establishing a media system capable of Presenting a vision that is in the interest of the Emirati media and serving the nation and the citizen alike.
The discussion touched on the need to create a mechanism to know the views of the recipient and follower of local content, and the percentage of satisfaction with the media content provided, which will directly contribute to improving the media services provided to them, and increase recipients’ adherence to following their favorite media. The participants pointed out the need to work on the multiplicity of voices and the diversification of the content covered by the local newspapers, which are similar in their view of the content they provide, with the invitation to enter private media institutions in professional competition with their government counterparts, in a way that serves the interest of the Emirati media system.