The Editors Weblog 11 January 2005
Editors Voice:
Call for Media Reform in Arabic Countries

There are plenty of media conferences in the Gulf area: last week in Abu Dhabi and next week in Dubai. What was said in Abu Dhabi is very important. According to AFP, "A conference on Arab media which opened here Sunday heard calls by two Emirati officials for the Arab world to embrace reform and not allow extremists to hinder change in the name of Islam."

Any attempt to make Arab media more effective will remain fruitless so long as the current "painful" situation persists in the region "at the political, educational, cultural and social levels," said United Arab Emirates Information Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

The Arab media, "however much it is empowered with resources and ability to use [information technology], cannot perform what is expected of it unless there is a comprehensive process of radical reform throughout the Arab world. Our media cannot project a beautiful image of an ugly situation," the Minister said.

Dubai Crown Prince, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktoum, who has turned his emirate into a hub of regional media and attracted international giants, said Arab media should not be required to do more than they can as they "do not operate in a vacuum." Arab newsmen shoulder a big responsibility in promoting and "rationalizing the dialogue" about reform, "but the biggest responsibility falls on Arab leaderships, through spreading (a climate of) intellectual freedom and protecting thinkers," said Mohammed.

Last interesting quote: "Footage of (people) kissing (the ruler's) nose, shoulder and knee is aired repeatedly," said Ali Fakhro, a former Bahraini education minister who spoke on the media's influence on education.

Source: AFP through Daily Star

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