Asharq Al Awsat, Dubai – The growing number of new media products and services offered to foreign communities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a remarkable and positive indication in the media sector as the market has become inundated with foreign-language newspapers and magazines published in the UAE, in addition to the imported globally-renowned publications.
Considered an innovation in this field, an English-language local news bulletin program has recently been launched on Dubai One TV. The bulletin will be aired daily at 7:30pm local time. This step may be viewed as a pioneering one to start a trend that compensates for the lack in local televised news briefs and services in languages other than Arabic to cater to the expatriate communities living in the UAE.
The news bulletin, ‘Emirates News’, aspires to cover local news and events in the country and is generally overseen by the News Center at Dubai TV. It is prepared by a media crew that consists of 10 editors and newsreaders of Arab and foreign nationalities. Editor-in-Chief and Newsreader of ‘Emirates News’, Ramia Farrage, said that the program’s diverse crew yields a multi-angle media coverage of events. “If the crew had been made up exclusively of Arabs, the news would have been presented from only one angle. We have been careful to diversify nationalities, also among the Arabs who edit the bulletin, along with the foreign staff members, which includes Australian, Indian and Pakistani journalists,” she added.
The entire crew has been selected from residents in the UAE on account of their familiarity with the nature, customs, traditions and various cultures that exist in the UAE and its society.
Many may object to the short duration of the bulletin, only 30 minutes a day; however, Farrage affirms that the duration is sufficient to present local media coverage of the events in Dubai and all the other emirates. At the present stage, the bulletin does not rely on permanent correspondents but rather on journalists who are dispatched around the country when an important incident or events that require direct media coverage take place.
The important thing about ‘Emirates News’ is that it is not a translated version of the local Arabic-language news bulletin, ‘Akhbar al Emirat,’ which is broadcast on Dubai TV, although both share some news in common, especially those relating to official state events. “The reason for the difference in news content on both bulletins is simple: different viewers. The interests of Arab audiences are entirely different from the expatriates living in the UAE. In brief, both bulletins complement one another. Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) aspires to address the largest social segments of viewers, nationals and both Arab and foreign residents,” Farrage commented.
For his part, Assistant Editor of the Dubai-based ‘Damas’ magazine, Ahmad Quja, commented by saying that there are more reasons other than the increased number in the UAE’s expatriate community that account for the growing number of media services and products offered to foreigners in the country. These include the margin of freedom granted to media outlets and the legal flexibility that has encouraged various foreign new agencies to set up offices in Dubai. He added, “For example, Dubai Media City was designed with the intention of giving media companies the freedom to create and promote media work. As a result, several leading global media agencies, such as The Associated Press, CNN, International Advertising Association (IAA), McGraw-Hill Platts, Sony and Reuters rub shoulders with regionally reputed companies such as the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), Saudi Research and Publishing Co. (SRPC), and Taj TV, in addition to a large number of investment companies, particularly in the fields of advertising, printing and publishing.”
Quja pointed out that such diverse media outlets have placed the UAE, and Dubai in particular, among the vital hubs of human communities that contain various cultures that function in a healthy civilized atmosphere that is based on dialogue, whether between individuals or through the media, which creates favorable opportunities for Arab and foreign media figures to work jointly with the aim of crystallizing realistic, transparent, credible Arab and foreign media.
The tradition of English-language news bulletins (and even their French counterparts) is an old one that is practiced in a multitude of Arab states – especially on state-owned TV channels – before the emergence of satellite television. For example, in Saudi Arabia, local TV Channel 2 is aimed at expatriate communities, while English-language news bulletins are broadcast in both Egypt and Jordan. Lebanon’s privately owned ‘Future Television’ channel broadcasts news bulletins in French, Armenian and English.