Use the might of media to counter ISIS, says Rania

Use the might of media to counter ISIS, says Rania

Queen Rania said it is imperative people in the Middle East “harness the tools of the 21st century” to put a stop to extremist groups rewriting the region’s narrative.

By Kelly Clarke/staff Reporter

Published: Thu 20 Nov 2014, 1:17 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:47 PM

Queen Rania of Jordan; Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development; Shaikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research; and Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, at the opening session of the summit on Tuesday. — KT photos by Shoaib Anwer

Media is the not so secret weapon in the fight against the ISIS, Queen Rania of Jordan said on the first day of Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2014.

“Our silence is the greatest gift we give to the ISIS.

“We need to use our voice and let our message be heard. We can do this through both traditional and online media.”

On the opening day of the Summit on Tuesday, Queen Rania said it is imperative people in the Middle East “harness the tools of the 21st century” to put a stop to extremist groups rewriting the region’s narrative. “Regardless of our purpose on Earth we all share a common desire to author and tell our own story. Through social media, the ISIS is misrepresenting the Middle East’s story,” she said, adding that it is up to the people to break their silence and fight back.

Posing a rhetorical question to the audience, Queen Rania asked: What would a profile picture of the Middle East look like?

And in response, she showed a collage of images representing conflict in the region, before saying it is this kind of representation that should make the “Arab people seethe”.

“This does not represent me or Islam. It is up to us as a people to drive forward media development in the region and find our voice. We cannot let extremist groups like this send us back to the dark ages.”

Over the past few years, Queen Rania has launched, championed, and given patronage to several initiatives in education and learning, and it is this which will help further drive media growth in the Middle East.

“Education helps illustrate the transformation of the media sector so we need to continue pushing it,” she said.

And education also plays a pivotal role in the region’s ongoing fight against extremist groups. “When I say education for all, it includes women. The Taleban are so scared of girls with books because they are the mothers and sisters teaching these fighters that extremism is wrong. Education is truly powerful.”

Growth in UAE

Opening Tuesday’s session was Group CEO and Managing Director of Mubadala, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, who attributed developments in education to the UAE’s media growth.

“What has become crystal clear is that education has made the media industry here.”

With several education facilities in the UAE boasting dedicated fixed media courses, he said the country is now seeing innovation which extends media growth beyond the classroom.

Set to be one of the most well connected regions on Earth, Al Mubarak said all you have to do is look at the statistical development in the region to see how media has progressed.

“Most Mena markets are experiencing rapid growth in the media sector. The media market as a whole is expected to increase in value from $16 billion in 2014 to $24 billion in 2019. That’s a near 50 per cent increase over five years.”

At the heart of this growth lies the relentless increase of connectivity in the region. September statistics from the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority shows there are more than 17 million active mobile subscribers versus over two million fixed-line subscribers.

Evidence which promotes the potential for growth in the UAE, he said.

“It is predicted that 65 per cent of the region’s mobile connectivity will be on 3G and 4G networks by 2018. That will make the people in our region one of the most well-connected on Earth,” Al Mubarak said.

So, with unrivalled potential to develop worldwide, Al Mubarak and Queen Rania agree the power of media in the Middle East not only adds to the region’s economic growth but helps in the fight against terror by giving a voice to the majority.

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