x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Media faces renaissance after years of 'repressive' government

Mainstream media in parts of the Arab world faces major with the end of government-control brought about by a series of revolutions

The mainstream media in parts of the Arab world faces change after years of government-sanctioned censorship, according to Egypt's minister of culture.

Emad Abu Ghazi, speaking on the opening day of the Arab Media Forum in Dubai, said that the regional media industry had not witnessed the growth seen in other parts of the world. He attributed this partly to "repressive laws" and government control of media channels.

"Some governments had brought repressive laws and codes against the media," said Mr Abu Ghazi. "With the totalitarian regimes, Arab countries have witnessed years where media were under control of censorship"

While the Arab media may have missed out on development seen in the West over the past century, it is now in line for a transformation, he added.

"The last century has witnessed a backward [step for Arab] media, while the whole world was going through media revolution," said Mr Abu Ghazi. "The Arab media cannot resist some changes."

Mr Abu Ghazi said the media is "a very important tool in the struggle of the people."

"During the past months in the region we have witnessed such historical events, which have highlighted the role of media, especially new media," he said. "The street cannot be isolated from the media... There was an independent media that came forth through the internet. It cannot be controlled by anyone."

Mr Abu Ghazi was speaking at the tenth Arab Media Forum in Dubai. He attended in place of the Egyptian prime minister Essam Sharaf, who was scheduled to speak at the conference but was prevented from doing so due to the political situation in Egypt.

Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, attended the official opening of the forum, in which Mr Abu Ghazi also spoke of the "deep rooted" associations between Egypt and the UAE.

bflanagan@thenational.ae