x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Princess boosts school for journalists

The King of Jordan's sister-in-law visits Dubai media outlets in preparation for the opening of a new media institute in the kingdom.

Princess Rym Ali of Jordan speaks about a new initiative she is setting up, the Jordan Media Institute, in a hotel in Dubai yesterday.
Princess Rym Ali of Jordan speaks about a new initiative she is setting up, the Jordan Media Institute, in a hotel in Dubai yesterday.

DUBAI // Princess Rym Ali, the King of Jordan's sister-in-law, toured Dubai this week to strengthen relationships with local media outlets in preparation for the opening of a new media institute in the kingdom. In an interview yesterday, the wife of Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, herself a former journalist, said she hoped graduates from the Jordan Media Institute (JMI) would populate the best Arabic and English media outlets in the region.

"One of the things we've been doing here is strengthening connections with the media industry in order to be able to guarantee internships to the students when they graduate," she said. "I think we might eventually introduce an element of competitiveness, so the best students get internships at the best news outlets both here and abroad." The inaugural class of the JMI, which plans to open in 2010, will comprise about 20 students. The institute will begin to accept admissions by the end of this month.

"The dream is to see JMI as somewhere where students from the entire region will feel that if they want to be serious journalists, they want to go to JMI to get their Master's there," she said. Princess Rym said she had helped to establish the school, initially under the auspices of the University of Jordan, after conversations with media figures across the Arab world highlighted the need for more well-trained Arab journalists as the number of newspapers, new media publications and television and radio stations was rapidly growing in the Middle East.

"Everybody talks about the media explosion in the Middle East," she said. However, media owners "struggle to find people of the calibre they need that are really proficient in good Arabic. There are good people, but they're not in the numbers that they need to hire them". Graduates of the master's programme would receive practical training, she said. They would also focus on social issues such as human rights and gender equality.

"A lot of what exists is actually in English at this level," she said. It will fill the gap for a high-level journalism course in Arabic, although some lectures and training will also be conducted in English. An alumnus of Columbia University's graduate school of journalism in New York, Princess Rym worked at media outlets including the BBC, United Press International, Dubai TV, Bloomberg and CNN.

The daughter of Lakhdar Brahimi, a major figure in Algerian politics and the United Nations, Princess Rym married into the Jordanian royal family in 2004. "It's been a dream of mine to contribute to the training of journalists since I couldn't continue to be a journalist any more. I did want to stay in this field," she said. @Email:jgerson@thenational.ae