DUBAI // Training Arab youth in media will be key to improving the region’s future, according to the Minister of State for Youth.
Shamma Al Mazrui spoke of the importance of the Arab Youth Initiative, which was launched by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, at the Government Summit in Dubai in February.
“Media is a very important tool,” she said at the Arab Media Forum on Monday. “Some say it is negative and the same applies to young people – they are the source of hope, yet some see them as a dangerous burden.
“But we learnt from our leadership that they are a source of opportunity.”
Arab youth constitute more than 50 per cent of the population, compared with 25 per cent in other advanced countries.
“They have a great responsibility,” Ms Al Mazrui said. “The real success of each journalist is their impact and their spread of good deeds. That’s why we are here today to prepare a generation of young journalists and we are in a good and developing stage.”
The initiative will train young journalists from 22 Arab countries and establish a media academy. The formation of an Arab Media Council will also serve as a platform for dialogue. “It is a great step on how to prepare a new generation of young people who serve the media with high ethics and creativity,” Ms Al Mazrui said. “We work on shedding light on media opportunities for Arab people and to develop a strategic programme to prepare them.”
More than 39 per cent of the Arab population use social media, with more than 110 million users on Facebook and Twitter across the Arab world.
“Youth have advantages that were not available in previous generations, which is the capacity to interact effectively with social media and conventional media,” said Ahmad Al Jbreen, co-founder and managing director at Smaat Co.
He said Arab youth was now providing the content of media and acting as a source of news, rather than recipients of it. That gives them an added power.
He said this penetration brought major youth issues to the table, including unemployment.
“We have many young people but we need training in media,” he said. “There are 135 academic programmes in Arab universities and 90 per cent of them are only theory. As a young Arab generation, we carry the greatest message in history, which is Islam, peace and to spread good values in the world.”
Ibrahim Al Abed, adviser at the National Media Council, said: “People tend to forget about the young generation and if they don’t have the right education, they won’t be the right people to lead the country,” he said on the sidelines.
“The concentration now is on the young generation in terms of education, media, religious orientation and social work. They can contribute and help build society.”