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Dr Maitha Buhumaid (right), director of Dubai Press Club, and Elias Nicolas Bou Saab, vice-president of the American University in Dubai, announcing the launch of the 'DXB-Media Tech Fest', during the Youth Media Forum in Dubai on Monday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The inaugural edition of the Youth Media Forum (YMF) held today on Day Zero of the Arab Media Forum (AMF) 2023 kicked off in Dubai with the announcement of the launch of a media tech festival.

The opening session was attended by Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and Member of the Dubai Council.

Sheikha Latifa (third from right, front row) at the event Image Credit: X/@DXBMediaOffice

Speaking at the opening session of the YMF, Dr Maitha Buhumaid, director of Dubai Press Club (DPC), announced that DPC and American University in Dubai (AUD) will jointly organise ‘DXB-Media Tech Fest’.

“The Media Tech Fest is a chance to learn about the latest media innovations, network with industry leaders, and understand the media business in today’s world,” said Dr Maitha.

“It has the best tech, talks, panels and more,” she added.

Speaking to Gulf News later, Elias Bou Saab, vice-president of AUD, said the first edition of the DXB-Media Tech Fest will be held in 2024. He said the format of the event would be finalised in the coming months and it could even be a conference on the sidelines of the Arab Media Forum next year. “We are in discussion with Dubai Press Club about that,” he said.

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Attendees at the forum Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Speaking on the occasion of the opening of the forum, Mona Al Marri, Vice Chairperson and Managing Director of the Dubai Media Council, said: “The forum is a testament to the leadership's steadfast dedication to empowering youth in diverse fields, including media. This commitment has resulted in the launch of several pioneering initiatives aimed at nurturing and actively engaging young talent in achieving the leadership’s vision for media development. The forum was designed to inspire youth to raise standards of media excellence and actively contribute to shaping the future.”

She added: “Under the directives of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Dubai Media Council’s strategy is centered on launching innovative initiatives to provide young media talent with new pathways to achieve excellence. We not only seek to raise their participation in the industry but also actively integrate them into the broader development process. The Council is committed to enhancing collaboration with both local and international media organisations to achieve this objective.”

‘Bridge the gap’

The idea, he said, is to showcase “the latest technology in media that is available globally and put them together in one conference”.

He added that the fest aims to introduce “all the platforms and media applications and the latest technology available” to media students, journalists and other media personalities.

“This idea will bridge the gap and make it easier for anyone who is dealing with the media to be introduced to the latest technologies available in this field,” explained Bou Saab.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication (MBRSC) in AUD, which offers undergraduate and graduate courses in various communication fields, will host the Media Tech Fest in association with DPC. Youth to reap benefits

Arab youth attending the Youth Media Forum welcomed the news. They also spoke about how they are benefiting from the Youth Media Forum, which has now become an annual feature of the Arab Media Forum.

‘Tangible experience’

Sali Ayesh

Sali Ayesh, a media student from AUD, said: “I think this is very important because as media students, we usually need the tangible experience that we need to learn about. So, in the university, we do learn from books or from content, but at the same time, we need to experience the media scenario and I think this is a great opportunity. It will allow us to network with people who are already experienced or with people who are experienced in media in different countries. So it’s a great opportunity.”

Saleem Saleem, a young travel vlogger who came all the way from Egypt to attend the forum, said: “Being a content creator, I’m always looking for communities or organisations or countries that give me the opportunity to be able to get to the next level and develop my skills. That is actually what I found in Dubai.”

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Saleem Saleem at the event Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Saleem, also holds the title of a Media Leader under the Young Arab Media Leaders Programme of the Arab Youth Centre (AYC), under the patronage of its president, Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

‘Paradise of connections’

“For me, the UAE is a paradise of all the right connections. I have had overwhelming experiences and amazing contacts in Dubai,” he said.

“Dubai always takes the first steps related to introducing innovation in different fields. They are giving you the opportunity. They are putting you in the kitchen of content creation and media.”

As for the YMF held as part of the AMF, she said it was an honour for her to attend the Arab Media Forum as a student. It’s allowing me to connect with different journalists and different content creators. It’s allowing me to expand my ideas, what we know about media, how we can use the AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools that we have, and how we can implement the best standards.”

Wider audience

Nama Al Ali

Nama Al Ali, a tourism student in the media department of Zayed University, said she gained deeper insights about the future of media in the Arab region after attending the first sessions at the Youth Media Forum. Pointing out that the Arab media landscape has changed over the past few decades, she said that now production companies are focused on making content that caters to a wider audience across the world, not just for a specific region.

She observed that the impact of social media has changed the business of non-media industries as well. “Even in tourism, businesses now focus on marketing through social media,” she added.

The first edition of YMF offered a series of sessions that included panel discussions and workshops led by experts from international media organisations. The forum focussed on key factors that drive excellence in today’s evolving media landscape.