Dubai: The history of the UAE’s media remains alive in the heart of Mayed Mohammed Al Mer, an Emirati teenager, who carries on his grandfather’s legacy in the world of radio and television.
“I am filled with pride and joy everytime I think about how my late grandfather Khalfan Al Mer left his mark on our beloved nation even before its union,” said Al Mer, 16.
The first radio station in the UAE was launched in the early 1960s, when the British Forces Broadcasting Services (BFBC) aired English news straight from the Royal Air Force base in Sharjah.
In 1965, the British Forces then set up an Arabic broadcast radio station called Sawt Al Sahel (Voice of the coast) that ran until 1970. Radio sales went up as residents tuned in to listen to world news, music and entertainment programmes.
One of the founders of Sawt Al Sahel was Khalfan Al Mer, who helped shape the nation’s future with his voice that aired throughout the Trucial States, and which reached as far as Kuwait and Oman. His contribution to UAE radio also continued well after the formation of the Union in 1971.
Who was Khalfan Al Mer
“I did not know my grandfather, may God have mercy on his soul, since he passed away before I was born. But the stories I heard from my family, our neighbours and people who loved him were about his hard work, his perseverance and his dedication to do good,” said Al Mer.
“My grandmother always tells me how I am just like my grandfather, she tells me we share the same passion and love for journalism. She encourages me everyday to be a good example for all my peers and the country’s youth. You should always have a meaningful message to share, she says.”
Carrying on the family legacy
Today, Al Mer has made his mark in the UAE’s history as the ‘youngest Emirati journalist’, a nickname affectionately given by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
“I am immensely proud to be following in my grandfather’s footsteps in the field of media,” said Al Mer wholeheartedly.
Having started his career as a seven-year-old boy dabbling in the field of radio and television, Al Mer now hosts a children’s program on Sharjah TV and is looking forward to completing his last year of high school this September.
“My goal is to one day become the minister of media in the UAE. I have faced a lot of challenges but successfully managed to balance work and my academic studies, and I aim to continue my focus on the media industry.”