Regional conference on “Role of the Free Media in Economic Development” successfully concluded:Conference concludes with emphasis on partnership [Archives:2003/669/Front Page]

September 18 2003

Sana'a, September 17 – The regional conference on the “Role of the Free Arab Media in Economic Development” organized by Yemen Times and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Sana'a during 13-15 September has been concluded successfully at the Taj Sheba Hotel in Sana'a last Monday with a number of recommendations that are expected, if implemented, to facilitate building a partnership between Arab Media and Governments.
The conference's final session Monday morning started with a presentation given by Mr. Robert Hindle, the resident representative of the World Bank office in Sana'a. Mr. Hindle pointed out the reasons behind issuing of the recent book entitled “The Right to Tell: Role of Mass Media in Economic Development”. In his statement he clearly indicated that the World Bank has realized that without development in the idea and human aspect, it is virtually impossible to improve economically. “There is no doubt that this book would not have been published five or so years ago. But things have changed for the World Bank and more focus has been put on issues such as freedom, democracy and other values, which do have an effect on economic performance.” Mr. Hindle said.
Mr. Hindle was bombarded with many questions on the policies of the World Bank and why the Arab media have reflected a negative picture of it. Mr. Robert confirmed that the World Bank does help media establishments by training and offering various services that could be helpful in assisting governments do the necessary reform. However he insisted that at the end of the day, and said “We only deal with governments as we represent them through their shares in the bank.”
Furthermore, Mr. Hindle expressed his willingness to meet with Yemeni journalists and researchers to further discuss issues concerning the World Bank and how to enhance cooperation with non-governmental sectors as well.
The final session also included a paper presented by Dr. Hassan Zninad, a prominent Arab reporter from Morocco currently working in the Arabic-language department of the Bonn-based German news network Deutsche Welle (DW). In his paper entitled “Argument on political and economic dimensions in the Arab media”, Dr. Hassan linked between the political and economic dimensions of the Arab media and presented an overall view of the important elements that contributed to the political influence of the media, which in turn had an economic influence as well. Dr. Hassan presented Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel as an example in his paper. “We can see that Al-Jazeera Channel has emerged as a unique example of a professional Arab media enterprise. This gave Qatar a brighter image in the global scene and has influenced the economic development in the country.”
The last paper of the final session of the conference was of Mr. Walid Chuqair, the Manager of the Beirut office of Al-Hayat newspaper. In his paper entitled “Economic media in a globalizing world”, Mr. Walid focused on the role free Arab media should play in clarifying the real and truthful picture of global economy and market. “Arab journalists have the role and duty to inform the public that industrial countries do not want to reduce poverty just for the sake of helping the Arab people. They do this to enhance their purchasing power to buy their products and goods. This means that there should be awareness of the need to enhance our industrial capacity as Arab nations to provide alternatives to foreign goods for our economies to be self-sustained.” he said.
Then, and following a tense discussion session, Mr. Walid Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, Editor-in-Chief of Yemen Times read a letter of gratitude and appreciation to President Ali Abdullah Saleh for his persistent efforts to enhance the country's democracy and freedom of the press level and for his support of the conference.
Finally, the recommendations of the conference were read to the participants and distributed to the media. The recommendations focused on the need to free the Arab media further and focus on means of cooperation between governments and journalists.
It is worth noting that this conference is the largest of its kind held by a Yemeni newspaper since 1990. “We can only say that the organization of the conference was excellent in all aspects. We do congratulate Yemen Times, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Yemeni media in general for this achievement, and looking forward for similar events in the future.” said Ahlam Al-Mutawakkil, the Editor-in-Chief of the 'Mara'' newspaper and one of the female participants in the conference.