Themed ‘Shifting Mediascape: Inspiring Content…Expanding Reach’, the two-day Arab Media Forum 2010 at The Atlantis-Palm has gathered high-ranking government officials as well as more than 2,000 media personalities and specialists from Arab countries and across the world.
Dr. Ahmed Zewail, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1999), offered the keynote address at the inauguration.
Calling for a comprehensive renaissance in the Arab world through building a ‘scientific society’ as the base for progress, he said a clear ‘road map’ has to be in place to accomplish the objective and initiate a fundamental transformation of the society at the grass-root level.
Dr. Zewail said, “The three pillars on which change of any scale depends include the nature of change, its recipients and the challenges faced by the changing entity. While gradual change is common everywhere, critical change or a paradigm shift is what we all seek to achieve as a society. And this change will come only when a society is completely coherent, with individual components working together.”
He said, “Change requires political vision right from the top. Unlike the past, in a modern world of the information age, political systems cannot aspire to keep their societies in silos. This has made changes in the political system a necessity.”
Commending the Middle East for its ability to adapt to technological innovation in the media and the wide reach of satellite television, he underlined the need to add original educational content for the information infrastructure to effectively contribute to spreading knowledge and greater awareness.
Dr. Ahmed Zewail also emphasized on the importance of quality rather than quantity, in light of the huge growth in the number of television channels and newspapers in the region.
He added, “From my point of view, the solutions to our issues in the region can be summarized within few points. First, we need a renaissance in the educational systems. The academic syllabi taught in schools and academic institutions are not any more in pace with the technology the world is facing. We need an educational system that builds upon the cognitive development of students.”
He said, “Second, we need to follow scientific methods in media; that is to base news on facts and data from credible sources that are thoroughly investigated to ensure the unbiased truth is being said. The following step for this is analysis and opinion – to personalize news and add the ‘views’ element to it. This is where the concept of ‘personal media’ would arise; where people follow a particular writer or a presenter rather than a newspaper or channel.”
He concluded, “Finally we need to add elements to our culture such as encouraging fruitful debate and conversation rather than blind disagreement. We also need to encourage excellence and achievement rather than scrutiny.”
Dr. Zewail was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize for his pioneering developments in femtoscience, which is the study of chemical reactions across femtoseconds – a millionth of a billionth of a second. More recently, he and his team have developed 4D electron microscopy for the direct visualization of matter’s behaviour, from atoms to biological cells, in the four dimensions of space and time.
Currently, Dr. Zewail is the Linus Pauling Chair Professor Chemistry and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He has also been nominated to participate in President Barack Obama’s Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
In her opening remarks, Maryam Bin Fahad, Executive Director, Dubai Press Club, said, “The Arab Media Forum has come to be regarded a key platform for meetings and discussions on the media sector as well as a networking event that offers a window to successful international experiences.”
She said, “Science and the media are indeed interconnected, both influencing the progress of any country or region significantly. At this year’s Arab Media Forum, we will explore the parallel fates of these aspects which are interwoven into the fabric of any society. The discussions outlined in the forum’s sessions will greatly impact the message that goes out of here and the future of a generation that is waiting to take the baton forward.”
The first day’s agenda included workshops focusing on ‘Citizen Journalism: Challenging the Unnamed Source’, ‘Kuwait Media – Progress and Expansion: Reminiscent of the Pioneering Days’, and ‘Natural Disasters: Mass Communication in the Arab World….No Comment’.
Individual sessions on the first day highlighted ‘Asia Rising: The Story of China and India’, ‘Building the Future: the Role of Science and Media’, Arabic Channels’ Diffidence to Speak the Other Language – A Case Study on Al Jazeera International’, ‘Bridging the Satellite Space between Maghreb and Mashreq Countries of the Arab World’, and ‘Will the Hands of the Censors Reach the Satellites?’.
Topics that will be taken up for discussion on the second day will include a seminar on ‘Opportunities in Journalism’ by Michael Golden, publisher and Vice Chairman of the New York Times, ‘Media’s New Forms and Patterns’, ‘Local Content in Arab MediaIts Hopes and Prospects’, ‘Sports Journalism…Pressure of Globalisation and the Sports Economy’, and ‘Don’t Interrupt Me! – The Etiquette of Dialogue and the Virtue of Listening’.
The winners of the third edition of the Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Youth Media Awards will receive their prizes at a gala ceremony on the opening day under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.
The winners of the 9th Arab Journalism Awards will be honoured tomorrow (second day) by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid.
Leading organistions including Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), Arab Media Group (AMG), Nakheel, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Emirates airline are the key sponsors of the event.
Wednesday, May 12- 2010 @ 16:36 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.