Courage, change key initiatives to shape communities’ identities - GulfToday

Courage, change key initiatives to shape communities’ identities


A panel discussion is in progress at the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival on Sunday.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Experts in media emphasised the significant influence of media and digital platforms in shaping public consciousness and reaching larger audiences, allowing individuals in a community to form their own views on various subjects such as politics, economy, and social issues. This is not only due to their role as sources of information and news, but also because they have the ability to control public opinion, they said.

 Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Founder, Barjeel Art Foundation; Dr. Khalid Al Midfa, CEO, Sharjah Media City (Shams); and Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO, Haykal Media, made the comments during a session titled ‘The power of media in shaping cultural identity’ on the concluding day of the 6th edition of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF). The panelists were moderated by Caroline Faraj, Dubai Chief Operations Director, CNN.

 Al Qassemi stressed that the media plays an important role in shaping individuals’ cultural identities. “We are always consuming content from social media, which is evident in the amount of time we are holding our smartphones, which can range between four and seven hours,” he said.

He also pointed out the availability of numerous alternatives to counter the deficiencies in Arab media performance, which western media provide and stressed the Arab media should focus on providing qualitative content.  He highlighted the need for Arab media to prioritise the production of high-quality content, similar to many Western media platforms, and stressed on the abundant availability of alternatives to address Arab media performances.

“As a community, we all have a responsibility to improve the quality and quantity of Arabic content on the internet. While governments certainly have a role to play, it is also important for individuals to take action and correct any misinformation they come across. I am encouraged by the efforts of young people to increase Arabic content, such as initiatives for Wikipedia, and believe that collective efforts will make a positive impact,” said  Al Qassemi adding that new generations have the responsibility to carry out these missions as it strongly relates to their identities and future.

 Dr. Khalid Al Midfa solidified Al Qassemi’s views saying there is a need to protect sources of information because it is easy to disseminate false or fake news. “(Shams) is working on several projects aimed at establishing platforms suitable for our culture and ambitions. Our main mission is focused on attracting young content creators and startups through qualitative initiatives that enable their work to be sustainable.”

He stressed that media initiatives should have a strong financial goal to attract investors, as a lack of economic objectives can undermine government efforts.

Abdulsalam Haykal called on more efforts in this domain, and to refrain from relying on foreign languages for sources of information. “We suffer from a huge shortage of Arabic content online notwithstanding there are more than 400 million Arabic speakers. There are many languages that have more content than Arabic, like Greek and Polish, which have only 28 million speakers in comparison,” he said.

Branching out and expanding your horizons

Meanwhile, Wissam Breidy, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Disruptive Knowledge, led a session titled ‘Branching out and expanding your horizons’ at the Impact Stage. He shared his professional career, and stressed that entrepreneurs should adopt life-long learning and stay updated on everything new in their fields, in order to keep progressing and developing in a competitive market.

He said: “For many of us, public speaking is our biggest fear, which is attributed to many factors, the most important of which is school education; Many wrong methods at schools result in inexpressive children, which results in weaker personalities that can’t communicate their thoughts and achieve their ambitions.” He stressed that the ability to communicate with various segments of people is one of the most important elements needed to ensure entrepreneurs’ success.

Speaking at a yet  another session, titled  ‘Belonging in a World of Flux’, April Rinne, Author of Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change, said the key to thriving in a world of constant change is to cultivate a flux mindset. “Change is an inevitable part of life, and we can’t unsee it no matter how hard we try. It can be destabilising and disrupt our sense of belonging, but it also presents opportunities for learning, growth, and improvement,” said Rinne.

 “To truly embrace change, we must develop four skills: the ability to orient ourselves towards change, the capacity to move at the right speed relative to change, the ability to identify and use the levers of change, and an openness to make change happen,” she added.

SEF 2022 concludes on Sunday after holding more than 50 discussion sessions and 30 engaging workshops with over 150+ industry expert speakers sharing their experiences and motivations to young entrepreneurs and aspiring attendees at the two-day festival.

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