Diana Muqalad to Yemen Times: “The topics we covered in our program were Tribes and the government, Qat, and Jews in Yemen.” [Archives:2001/20/Last Page]

May 14 2001

Diana Muqalad is a Lebanese journalist of the Future TV. She comes from a family originally from south Lebanon, Jabal Amer. It is said that Muqalad is the descendant of a Yemeni family, which migrated long ago from Yemen. Diana is the producer of “Al ayn Al mujarada” program, which has been a successful documentary series. Nadia Alsaqqaf met with her in Amman and had the following interview.

YT: Tell us about your career and project?
Diana: I have been working with the Future TV for the past 9 years. I graduated from the Information and Documentation College in Lebanon, and I have been with the Future TV since then. I started with the news section and thorough the 9 years I carried a variety of work types such as news, reporting, coverages, and analysis. I specialized in certain social issues. While I was working with foreign media instruments, the idea of fieldwork, as in documentary, was put forward. I studied how they worked and became a producer with them. I also followed foreign media and I had a course at the BBC. All that accumulated and the resulted in the “Al ayn Almugarada” program. I put the suggestion forward to my boss and he accepted. We started in the end of 98, and since then we have covered many issues and countries.
The first topic I took up was Iraq and the “hisar”; we talked about the Kurds in north of Iraq also.
We had stories about Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Armenia; going on TV now is Russia and next to be on the air is Yemen. Starting this Friday for three consecutive Fridays at 9:30 pm.

YT: How did the topic about Yemen come up? And what are the issues you discussed?
Diana:Yemen is a part of the world, it is natural that it is on our agenda, and especially that it has been in the news quite often lately. Also we have to acknowledge the rich history and culture of the country. The topics we covered in our program were three main issues of Yemen, Tribes and the government, Qat, and Jews in Yemen.

YT: Why did you choose those topics? And how did you present them?
Diana: I am a journalist before being a TV producer. It is natural that our interest in Yemen lies in the general interest of the people in the world. We tried to study what is the issue that the people want to know about and we tried to give more information about them. We tried to define what the tribe is, and what the influence of it on the government is; we talked to tribal people and governmental people as well. Regarding Qat, well the story is beyond definition, as it is an obvious phenomenon here. And the Jews of Yemen have always been a topic of interest, especially since Yemen is one of the very few countries in which that issue is present. In the presentation we took the case of arms and weapons in Yemen. And the issues of kidnapping also. Professionally I can say that we were neutral in our presentation and we took the words from the original people themselves.
Something I would like to say is that we do not criticize or praise, we put the facts as they are, and we try to be as objective as possible. Also I do not claim that I have given the complete picture. There might be things, which we did not cover, and if we had more time maybe we would have given a more detailed coverage.

YT:What are your coming activities?
Diana: We are going next to Morocco, where I intend to take up the topic of migration. To go to Europe, Moroccans risk their lives. There is a huge number of immigrants; also the route they take to reach Europe through the Mediterranean Sea, the percentage of the risk reaches 70%. Some drown on the way or lose their lives just for a new hope of life in Italy or Spain.

YT: Being a global journalist, what do you think of globalization ?
Diana: Unfortunately we Arabs are good at talking but doing nothing. We create many stories criticizing that this program destroys our ethics and the program subjects our children to Jewish influence, etc. without giving the alternatives to our viewers.
It is easy to criticize and make up stories. We should not waste our time talking and debating. We should learn from these instruments. They have a lot of good things to offer, why do we constrain ourselves to the negative effects. If only we figure out a way to make use of them instead of fighting. Globalization is no longer an option, it’s happening with or without our permission. What we can do is channel the input and provide the local alternatives which are interesting enough to attract the Arab viewers to our own channels.

YT: So you think our TV channels should be improved?
Diana : Producers should study the programs they plan to present before starting to do anything. They should ask themselves what exactly do they plan to present thorough the program. What are the basic ideas behind the program, and what budget is there for it? Also there should be thorough planning. Our channels are full of fillers, lots of empty talk with nothing serious to give. I agree that there should be an amount of entertainment but it should be studied and there should be respect to the viewers’ mind. They should be given information also. There should be a message to be presented through TV. And they should always make use of foreign experience professionally.

YT: Last comment?
Diana: I loved Yemen! I hope I can visit it again. I think that the country has a lot of responsibilities to tackle before it can layback and relax. I heard it among the people. The good thing is that the people are talking about it and that is a step forward. Other countries, even wealthier, do not even dare to talk about their problems and issues. The Yemeni people are asking themselves what exactly they want. With planning and getting rid of Qat and other obstacles they will improve. It’s only a matter of time.