IPJ Takes Part in Doha UNESCO Experts’ Meeting on Arab Media Development

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Senior UNESCO officials preside over IPDC media experts meeting in Doha.

IPJ director with UNESCO consultant and BUC alumna Hana Nahas at media seminar in Qatar.

Panel of Arab media experts at UNESCO-organized meeting.

Inauguration of media lab at Qatar University, partially funded by UNESCO.

Al Jazeera channel’s General Manager Waddah Khanfar receiving Arab media experts.

IPJ director Magda Abu-Fadil at Al Jazeera’s newsroom.

Abu-Fadil with Moroccan media expert Said Essoulami on the set of Al Jazeera’s show “The Opposite Direction.”

Al Jazeera’s training and development center director Mahmoud Abdulhadi escorting UNESCO officials and Arab media experts on a tour of the facility.

The Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s “International Programme for the Development of Communication” organized a media experts meeting for the Arab region in Doha, Qatar, in December 2004 and invited IPJ director Magda Abu-Fadil to discuss development priorities in the region.

Abu-Fadil was part of roundtable discussions to review and assess proposals for various projects submitted to the IPDC by NGOs, universities and media organizations from various Arab countries. The meetings helped identify priorities for fostering pluralistic print, broadcast and electronic media.

UNESCO was to select a few of the 26 projects presented following the discussions and to provide the funding for their implementation. In addition to pluralism and free media, the IPDCs priorities include development of human resources and promotion of international partnerships.

The IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development in developing countries. The program also seeks to secure a healthy environment for the growth of media in developing countries.

UNESCO is expected to partner with IPJ on future projects.

The key issues discussed at the meetings included what media were offering to develop communities; culture and diversity of content; prospects for community media; who sets the agenda for free expression; common obstacles facing regional Arab media; the impact of regional media on their local counterparts; concentration of media ownershop and editorial independence; and the need for training.

The meetings were attended by experts from Jordan, Palestine, the UAE, Oman, Morocco, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon.

In addition to participating in the meetings, Abu-Fadil spoke at a UNESCO-organized seminar in Doha by addressing the issue of “Regional Media/Dialogue and Competencies in the Arab World.”

She noted that there was a great shortage of substance, proper handling of the facts and an aversion to investigative and hard-hitting reporting. Worst of all, she said, media ethics take a back seat to other priorities.

Abu-Fadil also attended the inauguration of Qatar Universitys media department which was partially funded by UNESCO. The facility boasts ultra-modern and spacious radio and broadcast studios, and a newsroom.

During the visit to Qatar, Abu-Fadil spent time at Al Jazeera TV channel, touring the newsroom, current and new studios being built to expand the station's operations, as well as Al Jazeeras state-of-the-art training center.

The center offers training courses, workshops and seminars to journalists and non-media professionals. Its director, Mahmoud Abdulhadi, escorted UNESCO officials and the visiting Arab media experts around the building, which is not located on the stations grounds.

The facility is equipped with classrooms, seminar halls, computer labs, TV studios, conference rooms and very sophisticated hardware and software for broadcast production.

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