Mona Al Marri said industry experts and thought leaders will share their views on the current state and future prospects of Arab media. Image Credit: Photo by Angel Tesorero/Gulf News

Dubai: Around 3,000 participants have already registered to take part in the 19th edition of Arab Media Forum (AMF), to be conducted virtually tomorrow, Mona Al Marri, president of Dubai Press Club and chairperson of AMF’s Organising Committee, told Gulf News on Tuesday.

Carrying the theme, ‘Arab Media: The Future is Digital’, the AMF, held annually under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will bring together prominent regional and international media personalities and industry leaders to discuss the outlook for the region’s media sector.

Al Marri said industry experts and thought leaders will share their views on the current state and future prospects of Arab media. This will be the first time, however, that the event will be held virtually only. Noting the limitations of having no face-to-face interaction, Al Marri explained: “I know it’s very difficult. I know it’s very hard to communicate and connect our minds together, but for me, it’s better than missing the forum or postponing it till next year.” “The good thing about going virtual is that everyone is available. You can have Thomas Friedman (American political commentator, author and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner) straight from New York. You can have journalists from Reuters, or those from Saudi Araba to participate without them being physically present. The level of discussion is global,” she added.

Al Marri, however, said that one thing that would be missed is the holding of face-to-face workshops, but there are several online sessions this year that would foster constructive discussions on vital issues. She said more than 3,000 participants have registered so far and all sessions will be broadcast live on a special digital platform as well as Dubai Press Club’s various social media accounts.

Prominent speakers

Dr Mostafa Madbouly, the Prime Minister of Egypt, will deliver the keynote address. He will discuss the role of media in combating challenges facing the region, including the spread of misinformation. He will also share Egypt’s experience in the media sector and how digital technologies can be used to enhance excellence in the media.

Other key speakers include Dr Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Dr Osama Haikal, Egypt’s Minister of State for Information, and Michael Friedenberg, president of Reuters News.

Friedenberg will discuss the disruptions impacting the media industry and the ways in which news organisations can respond to global challenges, including the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He will also share his insights on emerging technologies and how they are impacting the industry.

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Al-Hajraf, meanwhile, will discuss the future of the Arab world in the light of current regional and global circumstances and the role of GCC states in ensuring the stability of the region.

Prospects for peace

Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times, will discuss the prospects for peace in the Middle East and the impact of the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan’s agreements with Israel to promote stability in the region.

In another session titled ‘Arab Media: Geopolitical Transformations’, Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Defence, Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee in the Federal National Council; Dr. Fahed Al-Shelaimi, president of the Gulf Forum for Security and Peace; and journalist/columnist Sawsan Al Shaer will discuss new trends shaping Arab media.

To conclude the AMF, the annual Arab Journalism Awards Ceremony will also be held virtually to honour outstanding journalists in the Arab world.