English media need to explain historical role of UAE in maintaining peace and security in the region, say speakers at first session of Emirati Media Forum

Dubai, 4th November, 2015 (WAM) – Speakers at the first session of the third Emirati Media Forum, being organised by the Dubai Press Club today, stressed on the need for English media to explain the larger background to the war in Yemen and the historical role played by the UAE to reinforce peace and security in the region so that their readers understand the context behind the UAE’s involvement in the Yemen war.

The first session of the Emirati Media Forum, held in Dubai today under the patronage of Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, focused on the English media’s coverage of the Yemen war, given their specific audiences.

The session, moderated by Mishaal Gergawi, founder and managing director of the research house Delma Institute, featured the top editorial leadership of prominent English media in the UAE including Editor-in-Chief of The National Mohammed Al Otaiba, Editor-in-Chief of The Gulf Today Aysha Taryam; and Editor at Large of Gulf News Francis Mathew.

Aysha Taryam said that readers of English newspapers should be made aware of the historic background of the UAE military’s humanitarian activities in the region and their role in promoting peace and security.

Francis Mathew said: “It is important that we explain why the UAE is “making this sacrifice” for the sake of security and peace in the region. There are good reasons that the UAE is involved in this war and the media need to explain it not only to expatriates in the country but also the larger global audience.

Recalling a recent news story in The Economist, Mathew said that international media have forgotten the war in Yemen. To remedy this, he said UAE’s English media should exert efforts to explain the context and reasons behind the war.

Mohammed Otaiba said that the reaction from the readers of English media to the martyrdom of UAE soldiers in the Yemen war has been extremely positive. “They share the pain of the families that have lost their children and their brothers,” he said On a question from the moderator on whether the readers of English newspapers understand the security concerns of the UAE, Otaiba said that he has seen eagerness from readers in engaging with and understanding what is happening in the war in Yemen and why it is happening. “They see what the UAE stands for,” he said.

Taryam echoed Otaiba’s views, saying that the reactions from readers were positive and there was major concern for the safety of the country. She said that she does not view non-national readers as separate from the country, emphasising that English newspapers want UAE national writers to be understood by non-UAE nationals. This, she said, is part of the evolution of English newspapers in the UAE.

All speakers on the panel said that one of the major challenges faced by the media in covering the Yemen war is the differing information coming from various sources. Taryam said that if there is a credible source from the battlefield in the form of a spokesperson from the military who can regularly speak to the media, it will support the media in providing clear coverage.

Mathew reinforced the need for a spokesperson who can provide and explain information on the war. He said that the media need access to regular briefings from the military for the sake of establishing clarity.