Dubai: She may be an Emirati, but 25-year-old radio presenter Aisha Al Mazmi is more passionate about reaching out to youth in English than Arabic, in order to connect people and let voices be heard.
With Sharjah Broadcasting Authority’s (SBA) Pulse 95 radio station since May 2018, the American University Sharjah (AUS) graduate is now completing her masters in mass communication while working for the station.
Co-hosting a show called ‘Afternoon Karak’ with Mikail Atiyeh, Al Mazmi has tailored the programme to target youth of all cultures and backgrounds and regularly dicusses the issue of expats having limited interaction with Emiratis on a day-to-day basis, with it taking some expats months to meet an Emirati after moving to the UAE.
While volunteering at an event in Dubai she was approached by expats who had several questions for the first Emirati they said they had seen in four months since moving to the country.
“This is when it hit me,” she tells Gulf News in shock. “This huge expat community don’t get to see us, let alone hear our voices and what we have to say.”
Now she hopes to encourage more Emiratis to be heard in every language.
“When one Emirati speaks up, it gives an opportunity for other Emiratis to speak up as well. Even though I am representing, I do not have the same opinions or ideas as everyone else.”
Al Mazmi stakes a claim to being the youngest Emirati presenting in English, and hopes the trend of Arab voices being heard in English continues. Her inspiration, she says, comes from Emirati author Dubai Abulhoul, who has written several novels in English on Emirati culture and heritage for a young adult audience.
“She was much younger than me and I really wanted to be like her,” said Al Mazmi. “It was that healthy competition that can motivate you. When I realised I was the youngest Emirati English presenter it made me feel like I have stood out in some way: ‘Here I am, Aisha Al Mazmi’.”
There’s a big focus on celebrating the Arabic language among youth, especially in Sharjah, and with the success of the Arab Reading Challenge in Dubai. However, a recent Influencers Talk at the Sajaya Young Ladies Club of Sharjah has put as much emphasis on bilingualism as well.
The talk was attended by Shaikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of Sharjah’s Department of Government Relations who discussed the importance of perfecting bilingual skills.
“He grew up in a diverse background and speaks many languages,” said Al Mazmi. “He told the audience that you need to learn and perfect English and Arabic to be good at what you do.
“He also promoted that Emiratis should not alienate each other based on what language the person prefers and allow languages to bring us together instead.”
Al Mazmi adds however that there is a stigma among Emiratis going into media, “Because it is not a S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), it is perceived to be a lesser degree,” she says.
She hopes she can change that misconception by showcasing the importance of giving youth a voice, and also believes that more people with degrees and expertise in the industry should be holding higher positions to ensure the standard of content remains high.
“Targeting the youth has encompassed a massive demographic including all cultures and backgrounds,” says Al Mazmi of her show.
Her next aspiration for their show is to contact and showcase talented youth, giving a platform that Al Mazmi believes is critical in allowing more voices to be heard.
Afternoon Karak airs 4pm and can be caught on the SBA app.