Print media ‘unfair with RAK’

RAS AL KHAIMAH — Does the UAE national print media deliberately tarnish the image of Ras Al Khaimah or does it present a fair and balanced coverage that covers both the bright and dark sides of the emirate?

By Sadiq A. Salam

Published: Sat 10 Sep 2005, 10:42 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:14 PM

Many local people here feel that the national Arabic as well as English dailies project the emirate as a very undeveloped and backward place that lacks almost all the fundamental infrastructure and facilities.

Interviewed by Khaleej Times, a cross-section of the emirate's local people voiced their almost unanimous agreement that the local media turn a blind eye to the different ongoing huge economic and social development projects. As an example, they cite the stories that have been published recently by almost all the local newspapers of a baby that has sustained a rat bite, an indication of the deteriorating environment and unhygienic living conditions in the emirate.

"The local newspapers are more concerned with bringing to the forefront only the dark sides of the emirate and entirely ignore the development boom that takes place here," Faisal bin Faris, Director of the Trade Licence Issue Centre (MART) of the RAK Economic Department (RED), told Khaleej Times.

RAK government has recently adopted a long-term developmental strategy that covers almost all the economic sectors and infrastructure.

"We know that the other emirates have their negative sides but nobody highlights these shortcomings as the case with RAK," he said, adding: "It is high time for RAK to have its own print media or TV channel."

RAK has only one radio station that has been recently leased to an Indian private company and no other media apparatus."

He also pointed out that the emirate population is expected to double throughout the coming two years.

"This large number of people will need more media coverage of their economic and social activities so I call upon the local media to increase their presence here," he said.

Major General Mohammed Al Noobi Mohammed, Deputy Director of RAK Police Department (RPD) said: "This is not correct, print media reflects what is happening in the society, they don't (invent) thrilling stories to grab the readers' attention but they write what they see and hear in our real life."

Al Noobi thinks that the local newspapers are very fair with regard to covering the emirate economic boom, spearheaded by Shaikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of RAK.

Lieutenant-Colonel Abdullah Al Hadidi, Director of RAK Criminal Investigation Department (CID) held the print media responsible "for ruining the emirate's image." He noted that media highlights topics that have to do with abnormal phenomenon or superstitions. "They are aimless stories that help nothing but spread panic and rumours among the public," he added.

Al Hadidi called upon the fourth estate to provide more fair and informative coverage, particularly with regard to security issues.

The local journals allocated very limited space for RAK news, said Thair Mohammed Al Nejar of the Public Relation and Media Section (PRMS) of RAK Police Department (RPD).

"I do realise that media always look for offbeat stories that draw its readers' attention, but there should be some balance. I call upon the media people not to concentrate on one side at the expense of the other sides of their coverage," he added.

Major Adel Ali Al Gais, Director of the Deportation Section of RPD, adopted a different stand, saying: "It is the part and parcel of the media to bring to the forefront the negative aspects of our life so as to expose to the public the government organisations as well as individuals who don't carry out their duties properly."

He also cited that news stories that deal with the low-income nationals suffering have drawn the attention of the government bodies, charity organisations and people with golden hearts to help in alleviating the suffering of this social segment.

A leading Arabic daily has recently published a series of articles about the emirate's remote and underprivileged areas that lack the basic infrastructure like roads, schools and healthcare facilities. People are living in poorly maintained houses and are in dire straits. Local people crowd offices of the local Arabic dailies here on almost daily basis seeking the help of the philanthropists and charities to rebuild their old and collapsing houses.

"Media also help in exposing the inadequacies of some government junior officials to the public and their superiors," he pointed out.

Khamees Bilal of RAK Labour Department said: "I think the local media give a very objective coverage to the different events that take place here."

Bilal believes that the local dailies are very fair and play a positive role in helping its poor segment of people to overcome the difficulties that face them. "I am not in favour of the domesticated media that concentrate on embellishing the dark sides of our life," he added.

"We adopt a very balanced message that covers all activities and incidents in the emirate," Adnan Okasha of Al Khaleej Arabic daily said.

Media plays a very important role in exposing the suffering of the poor people to the public as well as the concerned government and private institutions to help them, said Sulieman Al Mahi of Al Bayan Arabic newspaper. Every day Al Mahi receives many calls from poor UAE nationals who seek the help of the rich people and government organisations to build their collapsing houses or to provide the remote underprivileged areas with the basic facilities like roads, hospitals, bridges and schools or to pay their debts.

"I think people here are gradually starting to understand the real role of media and that is a great success for us," he added.

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