x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Industry groups launch drive to halt negative publicity

A campaign is launched to address what organisers call negative publicity for the UAE in the international media.

DUBAI // A campaign to address what organisers called negative publicity for the UAE in the international media was announced yesterday by the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The organisers say Emiratis and other residents should unite against what they described as "a media attack on the UAE" in the wake of the financial crisis. That is the end goal of the "we are all Emirates" campaign, part of the December 2 National Day celebrations.

"We aim to send a message to the world about the unity of all of those who live on the soil of our country," said Muaath al Merri, director of the campaign. He said the group wanted to tell media organisations that had "used the financial crisis to ruin our achievement" that we in the UAE are "in the same trench". The organisers say they hope the perception of the UAE in the international media will change after the campaign, and that they are prepared to respond to any allegation with facts and figures.

Several international media organisations, accused by the organisers to have taken part in a "defaming campaign against the UAE", have been invited to participate in a workshop on December 9 to explain on what information their reports were based. "Many of those whom we contacted have rejected the invitation, while others did not even respond to us," said Ammar Shhab, media director of the campaign.

"The Ministry of Foreign Trade have promised to provide us with a comprehensive report on the economic situation in the country on the year of the financial crisis," Mr Shhab added, responding to a question on whether he thought that the lack of available information and data might be responsible for the confusion rather than hidden agendas. Mr Shhab, however, insisted that there were several media campaigns against the country.

Dr Muaayad Waheed, the head of the information and media department at the federation, said the effects of the financial crisis on the UAE had been magnified by several media outlets. "The federation is considered to be the official representative for the private sector in the country, and, from this standpoint, I would like to refute the claim that the global financial crisis has had a devastating impact on the country's economy, and we want to do this in numbers and not in talk," Dr Waheed said.

The organisers will distribute 90,000 copies of a book consisting of letters from more than 1,000 UAE-based private companies that refute the claims made by media reports on the collapse of the UAE economy, and specifically Dubai, to emphasise that the country has not been badly hurt by the global credit crunch. "Another 800 companies wanted to participate in this book, but we had to turn them down due to time restrictions," Mr al Merri said.

The letters were collected through a campaign team in the past 90 days, according to Mr al Merri. wissa@thenational.ae