Call for greater media freedom

DUBAI — While media across the world is adopting new technologies to foster new heights of a free communication era, media in the Arab World is still struggling to push for more freedom of expression, media experts from the region said yesterday.

By Riyasbabu (Our staff reporter)

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Published: Thu 24 Apr 2008, 9:41 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:57 PM

Leading Arab media members who converged at the Monarch Hotel yesterday to participate in the latest edition of the Arab Media Forum, called for freedom of expression in the Arab world and urged the governments in the region to support the media in building constructive changes in the Arab societies.

Jihad Al Khazen, a senior Arab journalist and writer at Al Hayat newspaper said he had lost optimism in the future of a free Arab media as he could not see any constructive changes or trends in the Arab World to push for a freedom of expression.

“I admit there are efforts to bring changes to the face of media. But I cannot see any major changes in the scenario. I know the transition is not that easy. But Arab media is still stuck with its traditional features that had a very limited freedom,” he said.

“The state of Arab Media is still depressing. Compared to other regions, Arab media does not have the same impact on the society since it does not have credibility that is a by-product of freedom,” he said.

Danny Bottoms, CEO of Show Time said, “The governments in the region control the media and it’s bit of a fallacy because the communication era opened by Internet is not controllable. Even though the new technologies are available in the Middle East that can be adopted to boost the media industry, lack of expertise and knowledge limit the chances,” he said. However, Abdullatif Al Sayegh, CEO of Arab Media Group, said he was optimistic about the future of Arab media and its freedom as he believes that in the cyber era nobody can control the media.

“I agree that the freedom of expression still has to be enhanced. In the era we live in there is no way any entity can control the media. Whether the governments like it or not, the changes will come,” he noted.

Dr Hasseh Lootha from the College of Media Science in the UAE said that the freedom of expression in the Arab world should be enhanced and the best way is to so is to educate the young generation.

“It’s a fact that many universities in the region are still teaching the old-fashioned journalism that existed decades ago. So the students are not aware about the new trends and changes in the world media.

“The best way to uplift the Arab media and its face is to equip the younger generation with the latest knowledge available,” she said.

This will eventually bring about a prosperous future for the Arab media,” she added.

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