x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

A powerful new voice for Sharjah

The Sharjah Government opened a media centre yesterday that it says will help to reduce "misconceptions" about the emirate.

Sharjah Media Centre will handle inquiries from local and international journalists and attempt to promote the emirate worldwide.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, the chairman of Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC), of which the centre is part, said the aim of the centre was to put forward the "real picture".

"We're trying to not only address misconceptions, but we have a lot of things happening in Sharjah that just goes by without anyone knowing about it," said Sheikh Sultan.

The centre will put journalists in touch with the emirate's government departments and help to train public-sector employees to deal with the media.

"Whether it's positive or negative, we're happy to talk about everything that happens in Sharjah," said Sheikh Sultan.

Osama Samra, the director of Sharjah Media Centre, said the centre would include a lounge for journalists, with free internet access available to members.

"We should deal with the lack of communication between media and the government departments," said Mr Samra.

"You need always to build bridges between government officials and the media.

"Because if no one is explaining the situation … each and every journalist will write from his own perspective."

One potential "misconception" the centre hopes to address concerns the frequent power cuts in Sharjah, said Sheikh Sultan.

"One example is the electricity problem.

"People don't really realise what the real problem is.

"A lot of people would say the Sharjah Government is not working towards fixing this issue, but they don't know the other side of the story.

"I don't blame the media, because they don't have an answer from the government departments.

"Whereas we know that they are working very hard on different things to correct these issues."

Before its official launch, the centre conducted some public relations work over the closure of petrol stations in Sharjah this year.

SMC runs a number of TV and radio stations. It recently began broadcasting its fourth TV station, called Kalba, which is focused on Sharjah's eastern enclaves.

"We have Kalba station already on air.

"But it's on a trial basis. It will be launched soon," said Sheikh Sultan.

SMC recently received a Dh100 million (US$27.2m) government investment to improve its existing three television channels.