Dubai: Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Second Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Media Council, on Wednesday underscored the significance of a robust media in fostering the growth and sustainable development of the Arab region.
Sheikh Ahmed highlighted that Dubai has always recognised the vital role of the media as a partner in achieving progress and prosperity and launched several initiatives and projects to enhance the media’s growth.
Key among these initiatives is the Arab Media Forum (AMF), which was launched over 20 years ago under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. As the region’s largest media gathering, the event has emerged as the most comprehensive platform for knowledge sharing in the Arab media community, he said.
Sheikh Ahmed made these remarks on the occasion of the Dubai Press Club announcing details of the 21st edition of the Arab Media Forum, the inaugural edition of the Youth Media Forum (YMF) and various activities to be held on the sidelines.
Set to be held from September 26 and 27, the region’s largest gathering for media professionals being organised under the theme ‘The Future of Arab Media,’ is set to have an extensive programme of activities including the first YMF taking place on September 25.
This year’s event features a series of insightful sessions, panel discussions and workshops that will focus on two key themes, the influence of artificial intelligence on the media and the broader creative landscape as well as the critical need for the world to commit to sustainability. The Forum will also explore the influence of film and drama as sources of soft power.
Raising industry capabilities
Mona Ghanem Al Marri, vice president and managing director of the Dubai Media Council and president of the Dubai Press Club, the organiser of the Arab Media Forum, said: "The extensive participation we're witnessing this year is a testament to the pivotal role the Forum plays in generating ideas and insights that can transform Arab media. As the region’s pre-eminent media hub, Dubai plays a vital part in catalysing innovation and raising the regional industry’s ability to navigate challenges and keep pace with evolving global trends.”
Al Marri also highlighted that the forum will delve into a wide array of emerging developments that are fundamentally changing the way media functions. "Artificial intelligence, a frontier that is radically altering various industries, will also redefine media in new ways. The forum also aims to explore the influence of cinema and drama as forces supplementing traditional media in shaping social perceptions,” she noted.
“Furthermore, as the UAE gears up for COP28 and continues to maintain its strong focus on sustainability, we have integrated this vital topic into the forum’s discussions," added Al Marri.
Dr Maitha Buhumaid, director of the Dubai Press Club, said the success of the Arab Media Forum over the last two decades has been driven by strong, enduring partnerships with the region’s media community. The event’s agenda was developed after extensive consultations with leading media organisations and industry stakeholders to make sure it addresses opportunities and challenges currently facing the sector, she noted.
In keeping with the event’s theme, ‘The Future of Arab Media’, the organising committee has curated the event to provide deeper insights into vital issues impacting the long-term growth of the sector, the director of DPC said. Key topics of discussion include advancements in artificial intelligence, sustainability, cinema and the dramatic arts. The Forum's ultimate goal is to raise the Arab media sector's ability to positively shape the future of the Arab world, Dr. Buhumaid added.
The 21st Arab Media Forum features a distinguished lineup of speakers including Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Diplomatic Advisor to the UAE President; Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority; Omar Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications; Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators (UICCA); Dr Ramzan bin Abdulla Al Nuaimi, Minister of Information Affairs of Bahrain; Faisal Shboul, Minister of Information of Jordan; and Karam Gaber, Chairman of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation.
The two-day Arab Media Forum will be preceded by the first-ever Youth Media Forum, exclusively dedicated to young media professionals. The new event seeks to equip the next generation of media professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to flourish in a rapidly changing media environment.
In recognition of the pivotal role media organisatons play in the event’s success, AMF will have a dedicated Media Centre, which will provide all the facilities they require for their coverage.
Alia Al Theeb, director of the Strategic Media Affairs Department at the Government of Dubai Media Office and Member of AMF’s Organising Committee, said the media serves as a key partner in raising the Forum’s reach in the region and beyond and reinforcing its mission to explore and integrate new technologies that can transform the industry’s future.
To ensure a seamless experience for journalists reporting on sessions from the venue, the Media Centre offers high-speed Internet connectivity and the latest gadgets.
Al Theeb added that the organising team has been coordinating extensively with various media institutions and journalists over the past few weeks to accommodate their coverage requirements.
MoU signing ceremonies
Underlining its role as a platform dedicated to fostering cooperation and forging partnerships to accelerate media development in the region, AMF 2023 will feature the signing of several cooperation agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), said Mahfoudha Saleh, member of AMF’s Organising Committee.
The agreements will have a particular focus on developing the capabilities of media professionals, especially youth, and exploring new avenues for the exchange of ideas and experiences in the industry.
AMF 2023 will feature the participation of three esteemed creative writers who will be signing their latest works. Osama Abdel Raouf El-Shazli will be signing copies of his novel ‘Awraq Shamoon Al-Misri’ (The Papers of Shimon the Egyptian); Lebanese novelist Dr. Khaled Ghattass will be available for signing of his book ‘This is Not What I Wrote’; and Emirati novelist Reem Al-Kamali will be signing her novel ‘Rose’s Diary’.
The three authors will also be participating in sessions at AMF to speak about their literary journey.
Ruqaya Al Jaberi, member of AMF’s Organising Committee, said that hosting these accomplished writers underscores the Forum’s commitment to fostering creative thinking and constructive discourse, which contributes to enriching the intellectual and creative landscape not only within the UAE but also across the wider Arab world. The Forum offers these writers a unique opportunity to share their ideas and engage in meaningful dialogue on their literary work, contributing to the exchange of insights and perspectives, she said.
‘Proudly from Dubai’
The Arab Media Forum and the Youth Media Forum, held a day ahead of AMF, will feature eight homegrown F&B outlets from the ‘Proudly from Dubai’ network. Launched by Brand Dubai, the creative arm of the Government of Dubai Media Office, ‘Proudly from Dubai’ is an initiative that aims to tell the success stories of exciting and innovative businesses that were born and initiated in Dubai.
Shaima Al Suwaidi, director of Brand Dubai and Member of AMF’s Organising Committee, said: “Through the ‘Proudly from Dubai’ initiative, our aim is to spotlight the entrepreneurial success stories that have emerged from Dubai. The initiative stands as a testament to Dubai’s remarkable success story and its rise as a global business hub and a launchpad for individuals with innovative ideas and aspirations. Brand Dubai is committed to providing members of this initiative with a platform to showcase their exceptional culinary creations, which will help further raise their visibility.”
Unique AI artwork
This year’s Forum will showcase a unique AI artwork titled ‘Machine Hallucinations — Nature Dreams’ by renowned new media artist Refik Anadol. The AI artwork peers intently into data aesthetics based on the collective visual memories of humanity. ‘Machine Hallucinations — Nature Dreams’ utilises over 300 million publicly available photographs of nature collected between 2018- 2021 at Refik Anadol Studio.
Hessa Al Matrooshi, member of AMF’s Organising Committee, said the artwork serves as a testament to the influence of AI in the creative domain. It highlights how the technology is poised to revolutionise not only the media but also other sectors. The art display underscores the Forum’s commitment to providing attendees with a firsthand experience of key advancements in this ever-evolving landscape.
In an exciting new addition, the Arab Media Forum will transport attendees on a nostalgic journey back in time to the golden age of cinema. This captivating experience will be brought to life through a gallery of vintage film posters, some dating as far back as the fifties and sixties. The collection is presented by Dubai resident Abed Bibi, one of the foremost collectors of these cherished relics of cinematic history.
Ayesha BinKalli, member of AMF’s Organising Committee, said that the gallery, showcasing select posters from some of the most iconic films of that era, serves as a reminder of the exceptional quality and excellence of Arab cinema during that time. Often described as the golden age of Egyptian cinema, this era marked Egyptian cinema’s leadership and prominence in the Arab world. Ayesha explained that the exhibition is designed to celebrate the art of cinema, a powerful source of soft power.
This year AMF is introducing ‘MAi,’ a state-of-the-art virtual assistant that will be on hand to offer guests information related to the forum in Arabic and other languages. The AI-powered virtual assistant will be easily accessible across the Madinat Jumeirah, the venue of the event, for the approximately 3,000 attendees expected to participate in the Forum.
Mohammad Suwaidan, member of AMF’s Organising Committee, explained that ‘MAi’ is an acronym for Media Artificial Intelligence. “The introduction of the advanced virtual assistant aligns with the event’s focus on exploring how artificial intelligence will reshape the media. ‘MAi’ boasts advanced AI capabilities that enable it to engage in conversations with guests in Arabic and multiple other languages.”
‘MAi’ serves as a comprehensive information resource on the Arab Media Forum, offering details on session schedules, timings and venues. It has the capability to alter its voice to imitate renowned personalities from the media and film industries, irrespective of gender.
Maryam Al Mulla, member of AMF’s Organising Committee, extended her heartfelt appreciation to the partners of the 21st edition of AMF. She highlighted the pivotal support provided by these esteemed organisations, including DP World and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Strategic Partners), ENOC Group (Energy Partner), Dubai Chambers (Main Partner), Emirates NBD (Banking Partner), Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (Mobility Partner), du (Telecommunications Partner), and Hills Advertising (Advertising Partner). Additionally, she recognised the invaluable contributions of the Forum’s various media partners.
AMF will feature over 75 sessions and the participation of 130 speakers and 160 leading media institutions. It is set to bring together more than 3,000 writers, thought leaders, decision-makers, renowned media personalities, and senior executives of leading Arab and international media organisations from over 16 countries. Additionally, the event will welcome more than 200 overseas delegates.