Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan significantly contributed to Emirati, Arab, Muslim and international affairs, and transformed a backwater hamlet into a vibrant country Image Credit: Illustration by Ramachandra Babu/Gulf News

The 13th Ittihad forum held in Abu Dhabi to discuss the “UAE image in Media” coincided with the 100th birth anniversary of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. During the forum, it was necessary to link media development in the UAE to the foundations laid by Shaikh Zayed, who realised, from the beginning, the role of the media in development and spreading awareness.

Thus, Shaikh Zayed ordered the establishment of ‘Al Ittihad’ newspaper in 1969 to be the voice of the UAE’s union, which began with nine emirates and later developed into seven emirates as declared on December 2, 1971. These foundations created a fertile environment for the UAE media, especially at a time of information and media revolution.

However, in recent times media campaigns targeting the UAE has been intensified by many regional and international parties, especially those from Qatar and Iran, trying to pull the economic rug from under the UAE by twisting facts and presenting a distorted picture about economic conditions. Those behind the campaign do fully recognise that the UAE has turned into the most important trade and financial hub in the region, in turn gaining an international character.

And being aware of the county’s leading role in air transport, attracting capital and investments, they have tried to focus on these sectors. In addition, the malicious campaign is spreading rumours that shopping centres are getting empty, financial institutions are suffering, airports and planes are vacant. It also claims that capital is flowing out of the country, and projects are being put on hold.

This shows how serious the relationship is between print media and digital media on one side, including social media channels, and economic development on the other, which has become globalised in an unprecedented manner.

Investors are in touch with the media situation that some of them are affected by the economic conditions in this country, However, facts are quickly unfolding to reveal the true picture.

In the UAE, for example, there is a local and a global economic cycle. The real estate slump is a global phenomenon that has spilt over into almost every country in the world, including cities where real estate prices have rarely been affected. For instance, real estate prices in Doha have fallen significantly in recent months.

Certainly, the percentages vary from one country to another and between cities. In the UK, the decline in London was lower than in other cities, and this is true for UAE cities.

In addition to being a global phenomenon, the relationship between supply and demand plays a pivotal role in the slump. Many economic and social factors are involved.

Therefore, companies and large economic institutions, which have specialists with high qualifications, are not fooled by social media and targeted media lies. Yet, this does not mean neglecting online media — rather increasing attention must be paid to it to highlight and clarify facts.

In the light of the growth in digital media, it has become much easier than ever to fool people, thanks to its incomparable speed and impact. This requires the allocation of resources and preparation of human capital as well as technical requirements to highlight, maintain and strengthen national gains and put an end to the hostile media campaign, which tries to abuse achievements, including economic ones, through distortion.

The 13th Forum was an occasion to highlight the role of the Union’s founder and his interest in the relationship between the media and other aspects, including development and the preservation of gains on the one side, and protecting, promoting and highlighting the true picture about it on the other hand.