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Delegates take part in the virtual session of ‘Arab Media During and After the Coronavirus Pandemic’, organised remotely today by Bahrain’s Dar Al-Bilad Foundation for Journalism, Publishing and Distribution. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Mona Ghanem Al Marri, Director General of the Government of Dubai Media Office, today said that the UAE’s early recognition of the importance of transitioning to a digital environment enabled it to rapidly adapt to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on its clear understanding of the long-term value and benefits of digital transformation, the country adopted an integrated strategy to rapidly achieve comprehensive digitisation across sectors.

Government organisations have been proactive in implementing initiatives to raise the UAE’s competitive edge in digitisation. The country’s digitisation plans were significantly accelerated as part of adapting to the impact of the pandemic, Al Marri said.

Wide-ranging participation at media forum

Al Marri’s remarks came at a forum titled ‘Arab Media During and After the Coronavirus Pandemic’, organised remotely today by Bahrain’s Dar Al-Bilad Foundation for Journalism, Publishing and Distribution.

Dignitaries participating in the event included Ali bin Mohammed Al Rumaihi, the Minister of Information Affairs, Bahrain; Osama Heikal, Minister of Information Affairs, Egypt; Nabil Al-Hamar, Adviser to the King of Bahrain for Media Affairs; and Egyptian media expert Imad El Din Adeeb. Also attending were writers, media professionals and officials of media institutions and government organisations as well as academics from the Arab world.

Paradigm shifts in society

Al Marri noted that the UAE’s digital preparedness played an instrumental role in its success in effectively mitigating the wide-ranging repercussions of the pandemic, which brought about paradigm shifts in all spheres of human life.

She spoke about how the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people communicate across the world in addition to the shifts it has brought about in the world of media. Technology has collapsed time and space, fast-tracking developments that were expected to happen only in the next ten years, she noted.

This year’s Arab Media Forum organised remotely by the Dubai Press Club is another example of this transformation, she said. While previous average attendance at the annual forum ranged between 2,000 and 3,000, the first remote edition of the event in 2020 had more than 10,000 followers from different parts of the world.

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Rapidly evolving environment

Al Marri stressed that media organisations that do not accelerate their digital transformation will face threats to their competitiveness, especially in today’s rapidly evolving environment. However, she cautioned that despite the significant advantages of a digital environment, it provides a fertile environment for rumours, fake news and disinformation, which media need to guard against. She stressed the importance of raising the Arab media sector’s preparedness to adapt and thrive in a post-COVID world.