Media, digital platforms can make public opinion

Courage and change initiatives are key tools to shape communities’ identities, say experts

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Muzaffar Rizvi

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Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, founder, Barjeel Art Foundation; Dr Khalid Al Midfa, CEO, Sharjah Media City (Shams); and Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO, Haykal Media, during a session titled ‘The power of media in shaping cultural identity’. — Supplied photo
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, founder, Barjeel Art Foundation; Dr Khalid Al Midfa, CEO, Sharjah Media City (Shams); and Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO, Haykal Media, during a session titled ‘The power of media in shaping cultural identity’. — Supplied photo

Published: Sun 18 Dec 2022, 6:22 PM

Last updated: Sun 18 Dec 2022, 6:23 PM

Media and digital platforms play key role in making public opinion about politics, economy and social issues and they should use their significant influence in a positive way to benefit the society, experts say.

While addressing a key session session titled ‘The power of media in shaping cultural identity’ on the concluding day of the 6th edition of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, experts said media has the ability to control public opinion and it should be used in a constructive way.

Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, founder, Barjeel Art Foundation, said the media plays an important role in shaping individuals’ cultural identities.

“We are always consuming content from social media, which is evident in the amount of time we are holding our smartphones, which can range between four and seven hours,” he said.

He said the Arab media should focus on providing qualitative content to attract more audiences, who at the moment, trust more on western media platforms. He said new generation has the responsibility to generate quality content as it strongly relates to their identities and future.

"As a community, we all have a responsibility to improve the quality and quantity of Arabic content on the internet. While governments certainly have a role to play, it is also important for individuals to take action and correct any misinformation they come across,” he said.

“I am encouraged by the efforts of young people to increase Arabic content, such as initiatives for Wikipedia, and believe that collective efforts will make a positive impact,” said Al Qassemi.

The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival 2022 concluded on Sunday after holding more than 50 discussion sessions and 30 engaging workshops with over 150+ industry expert speakers sharing their experiences and motivations to young entrepreneurs and aspiring attendees at the two-day festival.

Strong financial goals

Dr Khalid Al Midfa, CEO, Sharjah Media City (Shams), media initiatives should have a strong financial goal to attract investors, as a lack of economic objectives can undermine government efforts. He said there is a need to protect sources of information because it is easy to disseminate false or fake news.

“(Shams) is working on several projects aimed at establishing platforms suitable for our culture and ambitions. Our main mission is focused on attracting young content creators and startups through qualitative initiatives that enable their work to be sustainable,” he said.

Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO, Haykal Media, called on more efforts in this domain, and to refrain from relying on foreign languages for sources of information.

“We suffer from a huge shortage of Arabic content online notwithstanding there are more than 400 million Arabic speakers. There are many languages that have more content than Arabic, like Greek and Polish, which have only 28 million speakers in comparison,” he said.

Expanding your horizons

In another session titled ‘Branching out and expanding your horizons’ at the Impact Stage,

co-founder and managing partner at Disruptive Knowledge Wissam Breidy shared his professional career during his speech and stressed that entrepreneurs should adopt life-long learning and stay updated on everything new in their fields to keep progressing and developing in a competitive market.

“For many of us, public speaking is our biggest fear, which is attributed to many factors, the most important of which is school education,” he said.

“Many wrong methods at schools result in inexpressive children, which results in weaker personalities that can’t communicate their thoughts and achieve their ambitions,” he said, adding that the ability to communicate with various segments of people is one of the most important elements needed to ensure entrepreneurs’ success.

Belonging in a World of Flux

Speaking at a yet another session, titled ‘Belonging in a World of Flux’, author of Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change April Rinne said the key to thriving in a world of constant change is to cultivate a flux mindset.

“Change is an inevitable part of life, and we can't unsee it no matter how hard we try. It can be destabilising and disrupt our sense of belonging, but it also presents opportunities for learning, growth, and improvement,” said Rinne.

"To truly embrace change, we must develop four skills: the ability to orient ourselves towards change, the capacity to move at the right speed relative to change, the ability to identify and use the levers of change, and an openness to make change happen,” she added.

— muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com


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