Another feather in UAE's cap

THE message is loud and clear. The media in the UAE is free to do its job in a free and fearless atmosphere. The intervention by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to assure a secure atmosphere for journalists to discharge their duties in a professional atmosphere is an energizing shot. It bodes well for the promotion of the spirit of excellence in the media sector here.

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Published: Thu 27 Sep 2007, 8:44 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:05 AM

In specific, through his order, His Highness has instructed the relevant authorities that there should be no jailing of journalists in matters relating to their work. This assurance comes a day after a local court sentenced two Khaleej Times journalists to two months jail in a libel case. His Highness’s response was swift, and matching with the expectations of the media also in that the Cabinet has been advised to speed up the enacting of the new Press and Publications Law, in light of the amendments made by the National Media Council. Journalists are not a cut above the rest.

Without doubt, they are bound by the rules and regulations of the societies they serve. Yet, in all civilized societies, media freedom involves the freedom to function in a fear-free atmosphere, where threats or punitive measures like arrest and jailing do not hang over these men’s and women’s heads like a sword of Damocles. It is the journalists’ job to hold a mirror to the society, to enable all to see what is right and wrong with us, individually and collectively; and with the environment around us. No society can be a fully perfect society; the implication also being that no journalist worth his salt can keep writing, or beaming, only good news. Bad, critical news, however, is not taken lightly.

That’s the case everywhere in the world; perhaps more so in this region because of the conservative nature of the societies. Yet, there are those in the media who would seek to go by the dictum, “Truth must be told”. Therein arises friction. Yet, without any shadow of doubt, national interests are, and should be, of paramount concern for every journalist. It calls for demonstration of a fair sense of judgment; and good professionals know how to strike a balance between professional pursuits and the society’s interests.

As societies develop and institutions take shape, nations frame rules and enact or amend laws that, among other things, will help promote social cohesion and national well-being. These laws form into a framework within which a just society’s functioning is made smooth. So with Dubai and the UAE. His Highness’s prompt intervention shows his keen desire to uphold high standards for the media here also in a way as to see its performance matching with the high standards Dubai and the UAE are setting in other fields of human endeavour.

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