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Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of Education, speaking at the opening session of the Youth Media Forum in Dubai on Monday Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The inaugural Youth Media Forum held today in Dubai emphasised the urgent need to create a dedicated platform for knowledge and experience transfer that can nurture and engage youth in the media sector.

Held on Day Zero of the Arab Media Forum, the first edition of the YMF also mooted an Arab Youth Award, more internship opportunities and school engagement programmes for supporting Arab media students.

In his opening address at the Youth Media Forum - held in the presence of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and member of the Dubai Council - Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of Education, said that establishing such a platform will equip the younger generation with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate and contribute meaningfully to the media landscape and maintain the highest professional values and ethical standards in the field.

Organised by the Dubai Press Club, the first Youth Media Forum was held under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Second Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Media Council.

In his address, the minister said the recent announcement by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on X (formerly Twitter) to seek out an outstanding young individual to represent youth concerns within the UAE government, underscores the priority the UAE’s leadership places on empowering youth and actively listening to their opinions and concerns.

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A nation’s future is moulded by its enlightened youth, who possess the capacity to confront contemporary challenges with initiative and unwavering enthusiasm, he added.

Al Falasi further highlighted that Sheikh Mohammed’s choice of one of the most widely-used social media platforms for this announcement also underscores the need to embrace modern technologies and tools and harness them effectively to engage more closely with vital audiences and stakeholders.

“In the UAE, our leadership has instilled in us the significance of anticipating future needs and preparing to confront challenges, as part of striving for global leadership. Raising our stature on the global stage requires a committed investment in our young people, as they are the architects of our future,” he said.

The minister also emphasised the need for the media industry to evolve in line with the rapid transformations in the sector in order to continue generating competitive and impactful content. Additionally, he underscored the need for media students to enhance their ability to navigate the swiftly changing media landscape and confront challenges with creative solutions.

He added that emerging technologies like artificial intelligence play a pivotal role in shaping the future of media, ushering in changes that will reshape the very essence of the media landscape as we know it.

The Youth Media Forum featured a series of sessions including panel discussions and workshops led by experts from international media organisations focused on exploring ways to raise the competencies of the next generation of media professionals in a rapidly evolving environment.

Award, internship as incentives

Hamda Al Najjar

The brainstorming sessions held as part of the workshops came up with ideas to support the Arab youth in battling the practical difficulties they encounter in securing their places in the regional media landscape, said Hamda Al Najjar from the Project Management Team of Dubai Media Council (DMC).

The brainstorming sessions held as part of the workshops came up with ideas to support the Arab youth in battling the practical difficulties they encounter in securing their places in the regional media landscape, said Hamda Al Najjar from the Project Management Team of Dubai Media Council (DMC).

She said the workshops were held in collaboration with Dubai Design Lab. Around 30 university students and content creators took part in discussions addressing gaps when it comes to the media sector.

Al Najjar said an annual Arab Youth Award to motivate the Arab students was proposed. “A lot of students noticed that there is a lack of internships when it comes to media as opposed to different other sectors. And lastly, we want to do some school engagement for programmes, to engage students with the media sector from a young age,” she added.

Al Najjar said the DMC would be working with public and private sector to achieve all the objectives.

Challenges in content creation

Ali Al Jaber, dean of Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication at the American University in Dubai, who held a session on the current state of content in the Arab region, said challenges like insufficient training, discipline, professionalism, and industry standards need addressing. “We are trying to regularise and organise the whole market and the industry in a better way,” he added. 

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Ali Al Jaber during his address to the forum Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Talking about the use artificial intelligence (AI) in the creative field, he said AI will not replace human creativity. “Instead, it will enhance it and it will eradicate the barriers that limit the distribution of our creativity.”

Referring to the feedback from the youngsters participating in the forum, he said: “What I have sensed from the questions is that there is an eagerness to see that the spread of the Arab culture should really go beyond the borders. And there is a possibility that this will happen with technology, with political will and with increased investment in that regard.”