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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

News organisations must engage with readers to inform and educate, Emirati debate hears

English and Arabic news outlets both crucial

Mina Al-Oraibi, editor-in-chief at The National, speaks at the Emirati Media Forum in Dubai. Navin Khianey for The National
Mina Al-Oraibi, editor-in-chief at The National, speaks at the Emirati Media Forum in Dubai. Navin Khianey for The National

The influential role played by the media and the impact news had on the population was a key focus of discussions at the annual Emirati Media Forum in Dubai on Monday.

The responsibility of the media, both Arabic and English language, to communicate with the people in the country and the outside world about the UAE’s position in Yemen and about the crisis involving Qatar was highlighted.

“Professionalism and credibility is a must for the media with organisations understanding if news will harm or benefit society,” said Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, chairman of the Sharjah Media Council.

Mina Al-Oraibi, editor-in-chief at the The National, spoke of centrality of strong news stories to inform people of developments, and give the context needed.

“Media outlets need to explain the facts to readers about the crisis, what the central issues are with their nuances, as there is too much misinformation out there,” she said.

“Being a journalist in the UAE means you have the chance to write about innovations in governance, advances in technology and trends that impact people in the UAE and aborad.”

Breaking down information about why the UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and the involvement of Qatar in promoting terror networks was required.

“The national media have an important mission to reach the people and the international community to understand why we are in Yemen and what happened in Qatar because these are two big issues of the time,” said Mohamed Al Hammadi, editor-in-chief of Al Ittihad.

“As national media we need to cover Yemen, the work of our soldiers and the trust the people have in them.

"The English media also have a responsibility to let people know the truth about Qatar and understand how Qatar has protected and not stopped terrorist funding of Islamic radical groups, and even tried to use Muslim Brotherhood groups in the UAE.

"Qatar is our neighbour and we are a family but we have tried to talk about these issues from 2013. The media can make people understand that if we didn’t take this action against Qatar, the problem would have been bigger."

Involving the expatriate community was critical since they were the link to how the outside world perceived the UAE.

“There are expatriates from different countries and through them and social media we can reach our news to the international media,” said Aysha Taryam, editor-in-chief of The Gulf Today.

“The media’s role is a sensitive one. If the expatriates don’t understand what is happening in the country and why, then there will be confusion. Expatriates must feel that the UAE is their second home so they also feel a responsibility to the country."