GCC needs digital platforms to dispel negative impact of foreign platforms on youth

Editors call for bridging gap in digital domains during Arab Media Forum

KT photo: Shihab
KT photo: Shihab

Waheed Abbas

Published: Tue 4 Oct 2022, 5:00 PM

Gulf countries need to come up with digital platforms where young Arabs can interact, as foreign platforms are having a negative impact on Arab youth, said senior editors of regional Arabic newspapers on Tuesday.

While speaking on the first day of the 20th edition of the Arab Media Forum, the editors called for bridging the gap in the digital domains which is controlled by Western companies.

“In the past few years, we saw many crises including Arab Spring, the Gulf crisis, coronavirus and now the Russia-Ukraine crisis. There are foreign platforms that impacted the youth (negatively) because we don’t have Gulf or Arab platforms that can feed the Arab youth,” said Muna Busamra, editor-in-chief of Dubai-based Arabic daily Al Bayan.

She highlighted that there are certain topics such as culture and religion that bring the Gulf and Arab media together.

Busamra also called on GCC media houses to bring young cadres in order to develop regional media in line with the new developments taking place in the technology sector.

“There are challenges but if we train and attract the young, we will give Gulf media an identity. We don’t have the necessary personnel needed, so we need to focus on the need to attract youth so that they stay away from crises and feed optimism to them. There is also a need to make positive content,” she said during the panel discussion.

Moanes Al Mardi, editor-in-chief of Bahrain’s Al Bilad newspaper, said foreign technology firms control the content therefore, regional players and content creators face challenges in presenting their traditions on such platforms.

“There is a need for joint Arab discussion on our platforms where we have the autonomy to present our viewpoint,” he said, adding that even the former US president Donald Trump faced the challenge as his social media account was blocked by big technology firms.

Walid Al Nosf, editor-in-chief of Kuwaiti Arabic newspaper Al Qabas, said that youngsters in Kuwait are mostly consuming content through mobile phones while companies are allocating a bigger chunk of their spending on digital advertisements as well.

Jameel Al Theyabi, editor-in-chief, Okaz, Saudi Arabia, stated media outlets that don’t convert challenges into opportunities will go into archives.

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