Shamma Al Mazroui
Shamma Al Mazroui, UAE Minister of State for Youth speaking at at the Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday Image Credit: Wam

Abu Dhabi: Debunking stereotypes about today’s youth, a top UAE official has said that young people seek meaningful, trustworthy media that provides insights and solutions to the world’s challenges.

Speaking at the first Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Shamma Al Mazroui, UAE Minister of State for Youth called on media outlets, content creators and media producers to develop and share information and material that is relevant, trustworthy and beneficial to public interest.

“There is a stereotype that young audiences want [only] entertainment {from the media they consume]. And we have to ask the question: is it truly what young people in audiences want, or is it that we have conditioned them to want this kind of content, by offering them content that doesn’t have public interest at heart?” Al Mazroui said during her keynote address.

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Mona Al Marri, Director General of the Government of Dubai Media Office, speaking at the Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi Image Credit:

The three-day conference, which is being organised by the Emirates News Agency (WAM) in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) Group, is discussing the development of human capital, innovation and investment in the media sector.

Youth concerns

A recent survey of Arab youth has shown that youth want content that is relevant, and helps them solve global and generational challenges, Al Mazroui revealed during her address.

“Even though we interviewed people who were extremely aware of technological content, AI, NFTs, TikTokification, their answers did not include much of these or any kind of immersification. Young people’s answers were loud and clear: content is king. They want to be entertained, but also intellectually challenged and thoughtfully provoked. They want to gain new skills and insights from media, and they want to answer life’s pressing questions. They want to be able to find meaning, and solutions to society’s pressing questions and their generations’ problems,” Al Mazroui said.

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Some participants at the Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday

Climate action

The minister said many young individuals point out that media institutions do not pay enough attention to the climate crisis, even though it is threatening the future of the entire world.

“I know that gossip on fashion fails, or a celebrity divorce, or even ambiguous content for click baits can get more like, clicks and shares, and more profit. But what kind of future can we have if young people end up aimless, depressed, disconnected, with mental health issues, and jobless? What kind of economy can thrive? What kind of social cohesion can we rely on. What kind of legacy are we leaving behind?” she questioned.

She also urged media outlets to develop climate content that is interesting enough to generate likes and share, saying this should be a major discussion at the international meeting.

The Global Media Congress is running in the capital until Thursday, and the contributions and demands of youth were at the forefront of discussions on the first day.

Focus on new media

Mona Al Marri, Director General of the Government of Dubai Media Office, said there is a need to develop content for young people, but also to train youth to keep up with the demands of new media.

“Studies have shown that 83 per cent of mobile phone users around the world spend two to three hours on social media every day, and that this time increases by two additional minutes each year. This is they way the world is consuming content, so young people, who already have the basic skills to access and produce content, need to be taught how to analyse digital trends and work with algorithms. This will help them post meaningful content that has enough reach,” she added.

Al Marri also highlighted the worldwide shift to new media, and called it an opportunity for media producers. “The Arab media must acknowledge that social media is today the dominant media platform, and we must quickly keep pace with this digital revolution by tapping into young talent and redeveloping our infrastructure,” she added.

The Congress

About 1,200 people are expected to visit the Congress over its three-day run in order to attend conferences, workshops and the exhibition. On the second day of the Congress, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, will highlight the role of media in promoting tolerance.