War and Media

A media summit to be held in Dubai in October later this year will look at all issues related to Middle East journalism as well as focusing on the specific theme of the media in a war environment.

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By  John Irish Published  July 9, 2003

Journalists from across the region will have the opportunities to discuss the future of the industry in the annual Arab Media Summit held by the Dubai Press Club between October 07-08.

Following the conflict in Iraq, where 18 journalists died, the summit will look at the media’s role in a war environment as its principle topic of discussion.

Much of the press will descend from other parts of the Middle East, although the organisers are hopeful of attracting the cream of the industry from around the globe to “promote a better understanding of each other.”

“The summit promises [a] highly charged brainstorming debate between eminent media personalities from both the Arab and western schools of thought,” said Mona Al Marri, executive manager of the Dubai press Club. We are expecting 500 editors-in-chief of major Arabic and global print and broadcast media, leading journalists, columnists, academics, analysts, commentators and senior government officials,” she added.

The summit, which was first held in 2000, comes off the back of a summit in Rabat last April between The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Federation of Arab Journalists.

That meeting covered various aspects of the journalism industry throughout the Arab world, stressing the region required a programme of action to promote reform and debate. It agreed to establish a training programme for Arab journalists on social and professional demands.

“Despite anger over the war in Iraq and much bitterness caused by the suffering of Palestinian journalists, there is the will to create a new international solidarity in which Arab journalists are fully engaged,” Aidan White, IFJ general secretary said during the meeting. “Everyone agrees that in many Arab countries there needs to be more effort to challenge censorship and state interference in the work of journalists.”

While sceptics such as Human Rights Watch question Middle East governments’ efforts in liberalising the media, particularly following the dismissal of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month, not everybody is convinced that events such as the Arab Media Summit are in vain.

“Things like the Arab media summit enable us to talk openly about the problems our industry faces and how we’ll go about solving them,” a regional editor told Arabian Business. “This event will also give us the opportunity to look at important subjects such as war and the media, which I think can only be positive for helping the industry mature in the region,” he added.

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