Shaikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, and Shaikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre looking a model of the amphitheatre which is under way on Al Majaz Island.at the International Government Communication Forum 2014 at Sharjah Expo, Sharjah. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Sharjah: The Arab world is going through a difficult time and the media profession in such a critical phase can be just as dangerous as a doctor quivering holding a blade in surgery, said His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, in his keynote address at the International Government Communication Forum 2014 (IGCF 2014) yesterday.

Stressing the serious role of the media and how it can be a dangerous tool, Dr Shaikh Sultan compared it to a doctor’s profession.

“The profession of media and journalism is just as vital as that of a doctor. The danger of false and misleading news written by a pen or broadcast can be just as threatening as a doctor quivering while holding a blade in surgery,” he said.

Dr Shaikh Sultan called on those in the media to respect their audience and make sure that what they write benefits the public and ensures their right to know the truth, adding that they must have ethics based on integrity.

“Media persons also have the right by law to freedom of speech, criticism and investigation. They also have the right to not disclose who their sources are and to reject any pressures to reveal them unless there is an ongoing investigation by law,” he said.

Dr Shaikh Sultan directed his words to owners and managers of TV stations. “I call on TV stations that broadcast footage from outside to not accept any images that encourage hate and crime. It is important to re-instil humanity in people and spread positive cultural and moral values,” he said.

Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Centre, also stressed the importance of government communications.

“You would think that providing job opportunities and environment protection are among the citizen’s first priorities to trust their governments. However, a study that included more than 30 countries found that these two criteria came in sixth and seventh place, while transparent government communication came first,” he said.

The citizens’ priorities are changing, said Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad. He added that the reputation of a country not only affects its image in the international community but it also affects foreign investment. “Reputations of countries are not only determined by ambassadors and foreign ministers. In my opinion the responsibility lies on each government communication department in every government department.”

He said that the interaction between government employees not only affects its image internally but also externally.

“I look around today and I see influential faces that are not present with us. Among them is Dr Abdullah Omran Taryam, Chairman of Dar Al Khaleej Press, Printing and Publishing House, who provided a platform for culture, science and news. He is an example of meaningful media.”

Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad said the last time he spoke to Taryam before he passed away earlier this year, he had told him that the Forum is taking Sharjah to the right path towards knowledge and cultural sustainability.