MANAMA // Yemen's aspiration to be a full member of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) edged a step closer to being fulfilled this week when Sana'a took centre stage at the biennial Gulf Festival of TV and Radio that opened in Manama on Tuesday. Yemen's participation marks the first time it has been included in a GCC event as a member of one of its organisations after the 2008 GCC Summit in Oman approved Sana'a joining four of its institutions.
In November Yemen will take a further step towards integration with the GCC's established bodies when it hosts the 20th Gulf Football Championship for the first time. "We are proud that our participation in this year's event comes as we became an active member of the GCC Radio and TV Corporation. Now we are part of [a] larger home," Yemen's minister of information, Hassan Ahmad Al-Lawzi, said. "The fact that we joined the corporation and that we are the guest of honour for the event is a clear indication that the future of reinforcing the ties between the GCC and Yemen is on a path of lifting the obstacles and achieving the common goals," he said. "We want to learn from the Bahrain experience, not just in the field of media, but also in the fields of politics, economics, and culture."
Abdullah Al Junaibi, the United Arab Emirates National Media Council adviser, said Yemen's participation in the event as a member would augment the media efforts of the Gulf countries. "The Yemenis have an extensive cultural heritage that without doubt would be a great addition to the Gulf countries in the field of the media," Mr Al Junaibi said. He also pointed out that the TV and radio festival, now in its 30th year, opens the possibility for the sharing of experiences and information among the Gulf states' media professionals as well as those from across the Arab world.
"New talents also get an opportunity to get recognised through such venues and these events also reflect on improving the media production process and quality, be it in television or radio," he said. Mr Al Junaibi added that these efforts in the past have made the Gulf's media the most dominant in the Arab world. "Today, Arab media is Gulf media. Be it private media establishments or government-run, they both complete each other," he said. "The Gulf is living a boom in everything and part of that boom is media. Media outlets and media expertise - be it Arabic or foreign - working in the Gulf have helped enrich and strengthen the Gulf media".
Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed al Khalifa, Bahrain's culture and information minister, said while touring the festival on its opening night that the government would continue its support for the growing media sector. Bahrain has been hosting the media festival since 1994. The country's ministry of culture and information undersecretary, Sheikh Rashid bin Abdul Rahman Al Khalifa, pointed out that this year's festival has already seen a surge in the number of participants, exhibitors, and works presented compared to previous years.
"The festival has grown in size. For the first time we have 320 media productions participating when in the past we did not exceed 200. We also have 80 exhibitors this time around when in the past we did not exceed 40. All of these are indications of the success and the prospects of the festival," Sheikh Rashid, who is also the chief executive officer of Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation, said.
He said that the ministry's efforts to encourage people across the Gulf to film and produce television projects in Bahrain have not only enriched the cultural scene but also benefited the local economy. "Bahrain has turned into a workshop. We have people filming here and we have requests from others to come and film, and this shows that we have a unique core of actors and that the facilities and infrastructure are there to support these productions," Sheikh Rashid said.