DUBAI: Dubai Press Club (DPC) on Sunday announced the agenda for the 18th edition of the Arab Media Forum (AMF), which will be held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on March 27-28 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Held under the theme ‘Arab Media: From Now to the Future’, the region’s leading annual event for the media industry is set to bring together more than 3,000 prominent regional and international media leaders, scholars, writers and experts who will share their views on the current state of the Arab media and the shifts that are shaping the future of the industry.

The two-day event will feature over 75 speakers and 200 prominent media figures representing more than 20 countries from across the Arab region and the world.

The 2019 edition of AMF aims to shed light on the current state of the media and the impact of regional and global events on the media discourse, especially with regard to professional media values like objectivity and impartiality. It will also explore a range of new trends that have contributed to the advancement of the industry, in addition to showcasing new technologies that will play a key role in the global development of the industry.

The high-profile event will discuss future opportunities and share success stories in the industry with the objective of forging a new vision for media that supports the aspirations of the region’s people.

Two Tracks

President of Dubai Press Club (DPC) and Chairperson of the AMF Organising Committee Mona Al Merri, said that the 18th edition of the Forum has two parallel tracks — the first, the current state of the Arab world’s media and the second, its future prospects.

“The forum will take a close look at the current Arab media landscape to understand the social, cultural or economic changes it is going through. It will also address how the media can positively deal with issues concerning the people and support efforts to meet their aspirations,” she said.

Al Merri explained that the forum will also discuss the Arab media’s ability to keep abreast of advancements in the global media industry and take advantage of fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies.

“The forum will look at key requirements for the development of media in the region, including the enhancement of professional skills to ensure professionals can keep pace with new developments and cover events in a transparent and ethical way,” Al Merri said, adding that the media profession is going through a critical phase of professional and ethical development due to the rapid and complex transformations taking place in the region.

Main Sessions

Fabrice Fries, Chairman and CEO of Agence France-Presse (AFP) will deliver the keynote address during the opening session of the forum, which will be moderated by TV Presenter Zeina Yazigi. In a session titled ‘The Future of News Agencies’, Fries will discuss the future role of news agencies, and their efforts to respond to the new media environment and maintain their position as the primary source of news. Fries will also discuss the role of news agencies in fighting the phenomenon of fake news, rumours and false information on the web, especially on social media platforms.

This year’s main session featuring Ali Bin Mohammad Al Rumaihi, Minister of Information Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Hussain Zein, President of the National Media Authority, Arab Republic of Egypt, will explore ways to boost the development of the media sector in light of recent political, economic and social changes. The session, to be moderated by Naoufer Ramoul, Anchor, Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), will examine ways to enhance the Arab media discourse and identify a new media strategy that takes into account recent developments.

International Speakers

Various international media figures will also be sharing their thoughts and experiences at the Forum. Futurist Jamais Cascio, who was selected as one of the Top 100 Global thinkers, will address a session titled ‘20-minutes into the Future’, where he will share his thoughts on the most important media transformations in our world today. He will also discuss the key technological trends that will shape the future of our world.

Tini Sevak, Vice President, Audiences and Data at CNN International Commercial, will speak at a session focused on audience trust. The session will examine whether the public has lost confidence in the media. Philip Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director, will speak about ways to combat the rising phenomenon of fake news.

Other international participants include Daniel Funke, Fact-Checking Reporter from The Poynter Institute, who will discuss the rise of fabricated news and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies that can create fabricated content such as fake images, audio and videos. Funke will share the implications of such technologies and effective mechanisms to detect fake news content.

AI Anchor

For the first time in the Arab region, an AI anchor will address the forum’s audience at a session titled ‘The Future of News Anchoring’. The session will highlight the use of AI in news anchoring and examine its future development. The robot journalist will act as the digital version of MBC’s sports anchor Mustafa Agha.

The world’s youngest journalist, Janna Jihad from Palestine, will alo join the forum to share her inspirational story as a young activist and how she began her journey reporting about the Israeli — Palestinian conflict from the age of seven using her mother’s iPhone.

This year, AMF will also feature a series of panel discussions, such as ‘Media Vs Politics’; ‘Combating Hate Speech’; ‘The Future of TV’; ‘The Future of Newspapers’; ‘The Podcast Revolution’; and ‘The State of Arab Media’.

The forum will also feature interactive 20-minute sessions that will tackle more specialised topics. Speakers featured include Turki Bin Abdullah Al Dakhil, Saudi ambassador to the UAE, who will speak about his journey ‘From Media to Diplomacy’; Adhwan Al Ahmari, Editor-in-chief of Independent Arabia, who will speak in a session titled ‘Foreign Media in Arabic’; Dr Fawaz Gerges, Professor of International Relations at The London School of Economics and Political Science, who will participate in a session titled ‘Media and Economic Transformations’; Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn EMEA Emerging Markets (MENA), who will speak about ‘The Power of Your Voice’; and Tariq Al Asiri, General Manager and Co-founder of Argaam, who will discuss ‘Paid Content & Alternative Data in Media’.

Other prominent media personalities participating this year include: Iraqi researcher and writer Dr Rasheed Al Khayoun, who will lead the session ‘Media’s Role in the Revival of Civilisations’; Amjad Taha, Regional Director of The British Middle East Centre for Studies and Research, who will speak in a session ‘Beyond the Truth’; and Lebanese TV Presenter, George Kurdahi, who will discuss ‘The Role of Media in Promoting Tolerance’.

Academic and Political Analyst, Dr Ayed Al Manaa, will lead the session ‘Countering Incitement; Columnist and Presenter Yasser Abdul Aziz will talk about ‘Eight Trends Shaping the Media in 2019’; and Saudi Columnist Hussain Shobokshi will participate in a session called ‘Arab Media at the Crossroads’. Group TV Director of MBC Ali Jaber will share his thoughts on the topic ‘What Type of Media Do We Want?’ and Khalifa Al Shamsi, Chief Corporate Strategy & Governance Officer of Etisalat Group, will speak in a session titled ‘5G: The Next Great Media Disruptor’.