Raed Barqawi (right) and Jamal Al Dwairi (left) receives the honour from IGCF on behalf of the Al Khaleej newspaper.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
A thought-provoking session that explored the growing impact of the digital content industry and delved into how content has changed over the years, wrapped up two days of exciting discussions that were held on September 26 and 27 to mark the 10th edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB).
Titled ‘Who defines the rules of the game: Content platforms or creators?’, the session featured a stellar line-up of speakers including Elizabeth Linder, Founder, CEO and Chief Diplomatic Officer at Brooch Associates, and Founder of Facebook’s Politics and Government Division; Caroline Faraj, Vice President for Arabic Services at CNN; Rashid Al Awadhi, CEO of New Media Academy; and Raed Barqawi.
Meanwhile, Jamal Al Dwairi, Assistant Chief Editor and Head of Home Section, Al Khaleej, received the honour from IGCF on behalf of Al Khaleej.
Moderated by Sherif Amer, an eminent Egyptian broadcaster and presenter of the talk show, Happening in Egypt, on MBC Masr, the session discussed modern communication players and offered insights into what companies and entities must do to sustain people’s interest. Opening the discussion, Elizabeth Linder, the founder of Facebook’s Politics and Government Division, recollected how at her first job at YouTube 14 years ago, all the conference rooms were named after YouTubers from around the world. “This was an intoxicating idea; for these were just random people with some talent who had an audience. But the point that was missed along the way – and is being talked about now – is how platforms grew organically without curation, highlighting why proper curation and planning is essential to take a company’s growth to the next level, and to better impact society.”
Commending the leadership of Sharjah for the conception of the House of Wisdom as “an extraordinary cultural space”, she pointed out that there should be more considered curation of similar spaces worldwide. She added that there was a need to “create better leadership across social media platforms to curate, manage and signpost people to where the quality is.”
“Change is happening, and we are in the heart of it,” said Raed Barqawi, Executive Editor-in-Chief of Al Khaleej, citing the surging popularity of the fastest growing social media app, TikTok.
He added: “A youngster today has nearly 30 platforms to choose from for information, and content creators must understand that the receiver is a highly intelligent individual.”
Reiterating how social media is changing the way news is consumed, Raed Barqawi also revealed how his newspaper grew from 100,000 readers to one million, thanks to an engaged readership on social media.
Stating that content and the art of storytelling has remained the same, Rashid Al Awadhi, CEO of New Media Academy, stressed that “it is the medium and the method of delivering these that have changed. We need to understand this to get the message across.”
He added: “Content creators – whether they are influencers, governments or media – are not making enough money to continue sustaining great quality creations, and this is a real challenge.”
Al Awadhi emphasised the need for the creation of high quality, pan Arab content, especially as people in the Middle Eastern region spend three-and-a-half hours online on an average each day, of which Arabic forms only one per cent of the content.
CNN’s Caroline Faraj noted that the proliferation of social media has introduced new content creators and stated that people go to platforms they trust. Calling it “the survival of the fittest”, she said CNN has recognised the need to adapt to reach the 70 per cent of the Arab population who are under 30.
“In the Arab region, one has to learn what journalism is from the under-20s,” she observed.
At the opening ceremony of IGCF 2021, Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi said, “The development of the human factor which is so essential to nation-building can be achieved by striking the perfect balance between socio-economic progress and intellectual and emotional development. In the eighties of the last century, when the region was undergoing rapid urban development during its post-oil discovery phase, the Ruler of Sharjah focused on building the essential human factor.”
The second day of the 10th edition of International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), witnessed an insightful panel discussion on the impact of entertainment content on audience opinions.
The two-day event themed ‘Challenges and Solutions’ is organised by the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC), an initiative of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB).
Under the patronage of Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the 11th annual edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) will take place on Sept.28 and 29, 2022, at Expo Centre Sharjah. Vibrant discussions centred around this year’s theme “Challenges and Solutions,” will be led by senior public officials, thought leaders and government communication experts.
Sharjah is in the spotlight once again and this time around it’s the brainstorming sessions at the International Government Communication Forum. From what I read in the local dailies the opinions expressed by the experts are noteworthy, which if incorporated in state policies, will go a long way in bringing about a better rapport between governments and its people (“IGCF participants’ discussion on role of technology successful”, Mar.7, Gulf Today).
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