Tag Archives journalism

PM supports a free press too!

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واعتبر رئيس الوزراء أثناء استقباله أمس (الثلثاء) أعضاء مجلس إدارة جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية برئاسة عيسى الشايجي، أنه ‘’لا يوجد داعم أكبر للانفتاح من الصحافة والوعي والتحلي بروح المسؤولية، وأنه بالقلم الحر والكلمة الصادقة والأمانة الوطنية والتحليل والرؤى الثاقبة للأمور، مطمئنون أن منجزاتنا ستتعاظم ومقدراتنا محمية وثوابتنا الوطنية محفوظة’’.

وتابع ‘’نحرص على توجيه الوزراء للتواصل مع الصحافة وتوضيح كل ما يهم المواطنين، والاختلاف في الرأي ظاهرة صحية طالما لم يكن على مصلحة الوطن العليا، فهذه مسألة لا خلاف عليها بيننا جميعاً مهما كبرت أو صغرت مواقعنا’’.

Al-Waqt :: 7 Feb, ’07

Good news. The PM supports free speech and a free press too. Echoing and confirming the king’s stance on the subject.

Now that we have the the most powerful two in the country unequivocally for these freedoms, one would think that Bashmi’s proposal will supplant that the government has pushed through in haste during last parliamentary term to amend the Press & Publications Law number 47/2002?

And that they will move the new media ownership law and instruct parliament to get on with it and discuss it?

Well, the talk is good. Let’s hope that the action follows just as beautifully.

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Goooood Morning Kuwait!

Kuwait City Panorama

It was a good show and I met with great people who I have admired for a long time. It was wonderful to put faces to name and online personalities.

The discussion was excellent, though probably too short of course to cover all the topics we wanted to cover; however, it is enough to entice the viewer to investigate blogging and maybe think of starting a blog themselves, which would be an excellent result of this program. Because of the topics discussed, I hope that the community too will be more aware of our activities and read our blogs to know us better and share in our passions and things that we choose to cover.

The program is anticipated to be aired in April. I shall let you know the actual date when the schedule is actually confirmed.

Diwaniyyat Al-Osbou - Kuwait

The topics discussed included the definition of blogging, what is normally covered in blogs, differences between blogs and forums, the credibility issue, the non-existing specific laws on internet media, how should bloggers be regarded (ie, journalists or normal citizens), how blogs affect political issues and of course how we – as bloggers – evaluate the future of blogging.

It should be a good episode and I am really glad to have taken part. Thanks to Tariq Al-Rubei and Bader Al-Fraih for organising it and inviting me to join this illustrious group.

Getting to Kuwait was a story in itself too! We were schedule to shoot the episode at 9pm so I thought there would be plenty of time to take the 4pm Gulf Air flight from Bahrain to arrive in Kuwait about 5pm. That is, if the plane did not get delayed, twice!

Gulf Air were good enough to actually contact me to tell me that the plane was initially delayed to 6.30pm, which means that I still arrive in Kuwait in plenty of time for the show, but by the time I arrived at the airport, the plane was delayed again and scheduled now to depart at 7.30pm which means there would have been very little time to get from the airport to the studio.

Fortunately it departed just after 7pm, landed at Kuwait airport at 8.10 and as I didn’t have any luggage with me I flew through immigration to be picked up by Bader and flew again directly to the station!

Diwaniyyat Al-Osbou - Kuwait

We arrived with just 5 minutes to spare. Even though it was a recorded show, the studio schedule was fully booked for last night which meant that we only had a specific period to record the show. TV cannot be delayed! Both Bader and I quickly changed at the station and were led to our seats for the recording to start.

It was worth it I think.

Thanks to KTV and everyone who worked at making this program a reality. We should have something like this done by Bahrain TV. I’ll talk to some people I know and see if they accept such an idea.

I hope the flight back to Bahrain this afternoon won’t be delayed this time.

This brings back memories of what GULF AIR actually means: Get Used to Late Flights And Incorrect Reservations!

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Sawsan Al-Sha’er is a bulldog!

Journalist Sawsan Al-Shaer

Once she gets her teeth into something, it is virtually impossible to get her to let go.

And this is what we need in Bahrain. Someone with the balls to ask questions and ensures that the receiver does answer the question without trying to wriggle away from it, but if he or she does then trust Sawsan to put them in their right and proper place.

I just watched her episode tonight grilling the minister of (dis)information; but when he tried the “dis” bit, she was quick to bring him back to the point. Which unfortunately he continued to not answer. He might think that he’s being a “good politician” by doing that, my own estimate is that his standing in the public’s view is somewhat diminished now. He did not manage to answer a single question in a straightforward manner (come to think of it, I don’t remember him answering any question whatsoever since I started watching at 9.30pm!)

I love the closing question: “Do you feel that you have virtual immunity from being questioned in parliament due to the unstinting support you get from both the Minbar and Asala (Muslim brotherhood and the Salafis respectively)?

Alluding of course that almost all of his actions since he was put in charge of the ministry was religiously motivated, as in closing down facilities in hotels and destroying tourism and the like.

Needless to say, he did not grace us with an answer.

I do not normally watch TV, Bahrain TV specifically, but after watching this episode with Ms. Al-Sha’er, I’ll make sure that I do watch her program from now on.

Are there any others that are worth watching on the “Television for the Family” channel? I saw an ad for “Al-Meezan” in which parliamentary issues are discussed, is that worth watching?

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OIC does NOT see!

This must have become a tradition while I was asleep or inattentive, espoused by illustrious people, princes and organisations in the Muslim world; in short, they hold that the problems that Islam faces is nothing but a Western media smear campaign, rather than recognising that there are fundamental problems with the doctrine, or at least how it is currently interpreted and applied and working toward addressing these problems, real or perceived, in a methodical and scientific manner.

This does not bode well for the future of Islam and Muslims. I can understand and just ignore it when this sort of thinking emanates from a deranged mufti here and there, but to have fifty seven Muslim countries actually believing that this is the correct way to go about correcting “our image” is disastrous:

Call to media tycoons
Riyadh: Muslim tycoons should buy stakes in global media outlets to help change anti-Muslim attitudes around the world, ministers from Islamic countries heart at a conference in Jeddah yesterday. Information ministers and officials meeting under the auspices of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the world’s largest Islamic body, said Islam faced vilification after the 9/11 attacks.
“Muslim investors must invest in the large media institutions of the world, which generally make considerable profits, so that they have the ability to effect their policies via their administrative boards,” OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said.
GDN :: 14 Sept, ’06 (pdf)

Money can buy a lot of things, of course, and influence is its bed partner. But this is a case best characterised as dogs barking up the wrong tree.

My humble advice to the OIC is simply this: save your money, it won’t make any difference if you propose to use it to control what is being said here and there, it just will not stop the criticisms which pain you. Spend your money instead on funding good educational programs for the young and work with long term perspectives to correct the vilification that our religion attracts from the whole world.

A good way would possibly be the scrapping of all those “Quran memorisation” competitions through which you expend an enormous amount of money, and change that competition to “Progressive Quran Interpretation” competitions instead and this is the time to do it as Ramadhan is now only a few days away. That will ensure that the self examination will start and we hope that people will start debating things without resorting to violence and calling each other heretics.

Using money to control editorials just won’t do what you want. What I can guarantee you that it will do if used in this sense; however, is turn whoever is not against Islam in the world against us!

Use the nut that God gave you for goodness’ sake. 57 countries and conferences and this is the recommendation?

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George Galloway Savages SKY NEWS!

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George Galloway rips Sky News another hole, after he’s done with the US Senate previously! I’m beginning to like this guy!

And before you start attacking me for highlighting this interview, ask yourself if Galloway is not saying the truth here first. This actually is the view that the vast majority of Arabs see this conflict, all you have to do to ascertain this fact is watch, listen or read any Arab/Muslim media.

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Sorry your Majesty, I wish it worked like that…ٍ

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Bahraini journalist Sawsan Al-Sha'er in an audience with the king of BahrainTime and again we are privileged to hear that our king, his majesty Shaikh Hamad bin Esa Al-Khalifa, is fully committed to see his vision realised in the reforms he initiated since he gained the throne. Time and again he unequivocally came out and said that he is for the freedoms of expression and he is for the improvement of the Bahraini people’s lives. At those times we get some articles praising his stance and positions in the national press; but only for those to be forgotten rather quickly and the same brain-dead heavy handed censorship re-applied, as if nothing has happened.

We are in one of those “reminder” periods once again…

A few weeks ago renowned Bahraini writer and “The Last Word” television program host, Sawsan Al-Sha’er, hosted Afaf Al-Jamri in that show in which they talked about a wide range of topics, including the dearth of parliamentary achievements in their inaugural term and other topics; however, the television censor took it upon him or herself to decide that it was against the national interest to broadcast those “derogatory” segments and editing scissors had chopped a few segments before it went to air.

That incensed Al-Sha’er, rightly, so she boycotted the program and stopped presenting it, the press took it up (arabic) and the king took notice (arabic), and once again had to step in to tell people that he respects differing opinions and that freedoms of expression are sacrosanct in Bahrain during an audience with his majesty yesterday with Ms. Al-Sha’er.

That’s all very laudable. But, I’m afraid, your majesty, that once again your Ministry of Information and the rest of the government apparatus will take note of your valuable advice for just a few days, “until things calm down”, and then they will unashamedly go back to exactly what they’ve been used to, and over-stepping the line and ignoring citizen’s rights is a certain reality.

Therefore, I respectfully suggest, your majesty, that as you are serious about these issues, and as you are the head of all powers in the Kingdom, that you issue a law – yes ignoring parliament – and put it in the constitution if you must, that will guarantee these rights in such a language that does not invite haphazard interpretation which could once again restrict our rights.

If I may further suggest, your majesty, as all advanced and most advancing countries do not have a Ministry of Information, it would do the country good to once and for all dismantle it and free the television, broadcasting, and press markets once and for all; in one stroke you would have saved your government an inordinate amount of money and much more heartache as well as increase our good shares in the world’s psyche that we are indeed a developing nation who no longer believe in packaged state propaganda.

As constructive criticism is also very high on your majesty’s mind, you might want to remove those things that people have been constructively and passionately complaining about: I draw your majesty’s attention to the inappropriate Assembly Law which took only 12 minutes to be approved by your Shura Council and which specifically flies in the face of your citizen’s freedoms and rights as human beings apart from being at variance with the various human rights protocols which the kingdom is party to, repeal Law 56 of 2002 which equated torturers with their victims, repeal Law 47 of 2002 which shackled the press and freedoms of expression, re-distributed electoral districts with fairness and amend the constitution in such a way that the parliament truly represents your people, the ability to question any minister – including the prime minister – in open parliamentary session would also be a good idea and will demonstrate that we are truly a transparent and civil society.

I am sure that there are a lot more things I can propose, your majesty, however, I shall refrain from doing so at this moment as I believe the above are sufficient to allow your citizens to live with dignity and if promulgated, would return you back to your rightful place, carried with pride on the shoulders of your happy citizens.

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Citizen Journalists win against Apple, Bahrain MoI are you listening?

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Briefly, Apple was pissed off with a site scooping it and releasing information it deemed still confidential, so they went after the guy who published the news and he didn’t budge, and in their infinite wisdom Apple thought they’d bring out their 4-pound hammers to force it out of the webmaster telling the court that (to the effect) as he’s not registered with the Ministry of Information he should not enjoy “real” journalist privileges, so he should tell them who the leaker was.

The court brought out its verdict last week telling Apple to, well, stuff it!

This is a huge win (in the States) for online forums, bloggers and citizen journalists. I’m not holding my breath for courts in Bahrain to be this partial to us, nor do I have any trust for the Ministry of Information that it will retool itself to be the protector of freedoms of speech and be a catalyst that would propel writers and journalists to excel in their jobs. But this event is certainly something that the powers that be should keep very much in mind.

A state appeals court on Friday rejected Apple Computer Inc.’s bid to identify the sources of leaked product information that appeared on Web sites, ruling that online reporters and bloggers are entitled to the same protections as traditional journalists.

“In no relevant respect do they appear to differ from a reporter or editor for a traditional business-oriented periodical who solicits or otherwise comes into possession of confidential internal information about a company,” Justice Conrad Rushing of the 6th District Court of Appeal wrote in a unanimous 69-page ruling.

“We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes ‘legitimate journalism,” he wrote. “The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here.”

The online journalists are thus entitled to the protections provided under California’s shield law as well as the privacy protections for e-mails allowed under federal law, the court ruled.
AP
Hat tip: BuzzMachine

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Going South

If you’re already wet, would being sprayed make you even wetter? What if you jumped in the pool when you’re already wet, would that make you wetter? Of course not. So what if Bahrain once again went south in its ranking in the Press Freedom Index for 2006? Okay, it’s just a few ranking postions: from 155 in 2004 to 156 in 2005 and 158 in 2006… the only bright side of this that I can think of is that we have reached bottom, and the only way is up, or get covered in silt and wait a few million years to make something worthwhile of our existence!

Let’s see what the full 2005 report says about us (pdf) and revel in its praise:

BAHRAIN
STATUS: NOT FREE

LEGAL ENVIRONMENT: 24
POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT: 26
ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT: 22
TOTAL SCORE: 72

The constitution allows for the right to press freedom, excluding opinions that undermine the fundamental beliefs of Islam or those that promote discord or sectarianism. This right is restricted further in practice. The 2002 Press Law catalogs a variety of press crimes, severely curtailing the range of topics the press is permitted to cover. Though suspended
soon after promulgation, the law continues to be enforced at the government’s discretion. Nonetheless, the press has grown bolder in its criticism of government policies and other controversial issues in recent years. In May, the Chamber of Deputies proposed a draft law to create an Information Council that would increase transparency and access to information. As of December, the draft had not been approved.

Internet freedom came under increased pressure in Bahrain in 2005. Despite boasting a liberal telecom environment, the Bahraini government does filter some content, monitoring emails and blocking access to several political opposition websites, In February the government arrested the moderator of the web log www.bahrainonline.com, Ali Abdul Imam, along with two web technicians for disseminating defamatory material through the site’s discussion forum. Released after several weeks amid protest, Abdul Imam’s arrest was quickly followed by a decree by the Ministry of Information requiring all Bahraini website moderators to register with the ministry within three months, a move decried by human rights advocates as a means to monitor and stifle freedom of expression on the web. The government is not the only threat to press freedom. For example, a Muslim cleric threatened the editor-in-chief of the daily Al Ayam and led a massive protest after the paper published political cartoons depicting the Ayatollah Khamenei and offending many Shi’ites in Bahrain.

Print media are privately owned, but they usually exercise self-censorship in articles covering sensitive topics and are often issued government ‘directives’ on how to report certain stories. The government continues to own and operate almost all radio and television stations in the country, and these outlets largely conform to the government position. In October, the first private radio station began broadcasting music and entertainment, but does not cover news or current affairs. Broadcast media from neighboring countries are available, however, and the number of households with access to satellite channels continues to grow. Saudi-owned entertainment satellite channel MBC2 has broadcast from Bahrain since 2003. In 2004, the government lifted a two-year ban on correspondents from the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera.
Freedom House :: MENA 2006 Freedom of the Press report :: pdf

In a recent press release, the same organisation said this about this whole region, and I cannot agree with its conclusion more:

Despite overall improvements in press freedom in the Middle East and North Africa over the last several years, the region continues to rank the lowest for press freedoms in the world, according to a major study released today by Freedom House. However, there are a number of countries that are close to an upgrade from Not Free to Partly Free status, if a few key reforms are implemented.

Generally, media in the region remain constrained by extremely restrictive legal environments in most countries. Most problematic to media freedom are the laws criminalizing libel and defamation and prohibiting any insult to monarchs and other rulers, as well as emergency legislation that remains in place which hampers the ability of journalists to write freely.
Freedom House :: 27 Apr ’06

I hope our exalted MPs, especially the bearded ones are listening.

This is what you (the MPs) take with you to your graves.. you had a real chance in your lives at least to attempt to make a difference, and you continue to squander it.

Well done Bahrain. I would like, on this very auspicious occasion, to congratulate both the Ministry of Information and the Bahraini Parliament for these reports and new rankings.

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Press Freedom Day

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On the eve of the Press Freedom Day, the press in this, as well as virtually the whole Middle East, are in shackles, with parliaments aiding and abetting the press and its workers’ incarceration, utilising that ever-present fillip: religion, to justify imprisoning journalists and anyone else who dares to speak their mind and challenge a preconceived notion.

The parliament here for instance is doing nothing but donning its collective religious blinkers in insisting on jail terms for anyone who denigrates God or religions, this grievous harm is to be interpreted in such a malleable manner as to make it permissible for probably any lay person or journalist to see the inside of cells for long periods of their lives for simply looking at the sky and describing that experience in terms which might not be agreeable to the law enforcer’s ears. While the parliament is on a roll with imprisoning people for their thoughts, they thought that they might as well jail anyone who denigrates the king too.

It doesn’t stop there: from memory let me recount what could be regarded as jailable offence if this new law being debated now actually passes:

Denigrating God in all of His manifestations; in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.
Denigrating the prophet.
Denigrating the prophet’s wives.
Denigrating the prophet’s companions.
Denigrating the prophet’s descendants.
Denigrating the King.
Denigrating countries which Bahrain has relations with.

There must be some others that they will cook up, but those are what my memory serves.

How can one even decide that an offence has been made to any of the above? Isn’t an offence a very subjective manner? What is offensive to you might not be to me, and hence the absence of clear definitions of laws leads to nothing but strife and societal discord.

Why do we need this anyway? Do we need to defend our creator at every turn in life and age? Couldn’t He take ample care of Himself? Would He really be offended if someone swore at him? Or is this used as a simple and accessible tool of and for suppression? More importantly, doesn’t that very law precludes scientific and artistic exploration? Everything will stop for the fear of making an offence.

What about a law that criminalises criticism of a monarch, doesn’t that law by definition breeches a law that criminalises denigrating God because that would put both on the same level? Yet we find the very proponents of such law are those who have installed themselves as the defenders of the faith!

All of these laws would serve nothing but be a hindrance to true and courageous journalism and self expression which would ensure transparency in this country, and threatening its practitioners with prison terms and heavy fines would serve nothing but increase corruption.

On the eve of the Press Freedom Day, let us pause a little and think of these unfortunate heroes who have lost their lives or are imprisoned for doing nothing but express their thoughts for the betterment of their societies:

Happy press freedom day.

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The blogging session at the Arab Media Forum

blogging the 4th Arab Media Forum in Dubai

and Impressions on the 4th Arab Media Forum

It’s over. Apart from the official dinner and prizes tonight, the conference and sessions have just finished. We’ve had our bloggers’ session this afternoon and it was brilliant! Good organisation, good attendance and very good questions from the audience.

Chairing the panel was Ms. Dalia El Farra, Ms. Anisa Al-Sharif, a UAE national and personal blogger, tackled the experience of blogging and how some blogs were quite literally stepping into traditional media spheres. She specifically brought to our attention the “Jar Al-Qamar” blog which was the first to break the story of the sectarian strife in Alexandria, and stressed that this will not be the last that we will find bloggers publishing news as it happens.

Dr. Emad Basheer, the director of the Lebanese University’s College of Media came all prepared with a good 7 pages for his talk which was very worthwhile. He described the start of blogging with the Sumerians in about 4000BC! And explained the various eras it went through. He of course was treating the “phenomenon” of blogging as diarists; looking at it this way, I can see where he was going. Anyway, he explained the distinct 4 eras of blogging as starting in ancient times with the Sumerians as it was them who first developed the act of writing, then it went on to the creation of the Gutenberg Press in the 1400s – if you discount the Chinese and Japanese printing presses which are supposed to have predated the Gutenberg Press in the 1100s and 1200s. Onwards to 1946 when the first computer was invented, and then of course with the prevalence of the dial-up communications and then ultimately the internet.

Following on from his presentation – which I will try to get and post here as it is interesting – I started where he finished and said that I started blogging in 1986!

Well it’s true! I had created one of the first BBSs (bulletin board services) in the area and called it Stray Cats BBS. We had quite a few members at that time and what we did is very similar to blogging today, it was a collection of chronologically organised entries to which people commented. After that we went into forums and then as we have today the current structure of the blog. Sure, the terms “weblog” and “blog” only came a lot later than ’86, but if we take Dr. Basheer’s paradigm, then a lot of us (dinosaurs!) have been blogging since the BBS days.

My talk (which lasted a lot shorter than Dr. Basheer’s I might add, and I told the audience to clap when I felt that I had bored them enough :)) concentrated on the issues of credibility and anonymity in blogging. Core issues which have been discussed time and again in virtually all the sessions at the conference. I explained that credibility in blogs is gained by peer-review, in which if any reader disagrees with anything that a blogger has written, it is very simple to call him up on the facts by commenting on the piece. If commenting is not allowed on that particular blog, then a link is created into the objector’s blog referring back to the original article and he would expose his thoughts and why he thinks that the other writer is wrong. Through this process, the community itself takes care of reviewing and ensuring credibility is only granted to those who deserve it, that of course is evidenced by the number of links there are to a particular blog or article, and it is this that created good feedback sites like Technorati and The Truth Laid Bear’s EcoSystem which track these links.

As to the anonymity question, I maintain that the best way to gain credibility is to fully disclose who you are, and that you must stand behind your beliefs and writings. Once people actually get to know who you are, they can completely discount you and concentrate on your message. If they don’t know who you are, then that’s just another question-mark that lingers in their minds, detracting them from the idea you are discussing.

However, I also recognised that in our particular world it is not always practical to be known and I gave the example of Rabah Al-Quwayi who has simply called for taking nothing for granted in one of the many online forums in Saudi and he got a message-wrapped brick thrown at his car’s windshield! The message was a death threat. His troubles didn’t stop there, for when he went to the police station to lodge a complaint, the religious police at the station apprehended him and threw him in prison because “his beliefs were in doubt!” So the danger is always present not only from the governments, but even more from the community itself.

So in my personal view, the ideas are the most important things, rather than the person writing them; however, it does generally add to the story’s credibility if its author is known.

Questions from the floor were very interesting again, and once again continued to try to find ways to delineate blogging from traditional journalism, using the credibility issues, the immediacy of electronic publishing without an overseer, the absence of a code of ethics for bloggers, etc. These questions of course were raised by journalists rather than bloggers, who were almost absent form the forum! I’ve only met a couple of them who bothered to identify themselves as bloggers (some where even very guarded and wouldn’t give me their URLs – hint hint!) Nevertheless, I think discussing these issues are very important indeed, as it is the first step in getting traditional journalists to hear our views on the subject first-hand, and hopefully will transmit these thoughts to their readers that we are real people whose intentions are not far removed from “real” journalists.

That is not to say of course that there are no trivial blogs floating around, or trivial posts for that matter. Of course there are, and that is fine because blogging – may I remind you once again – is nothing more than a chronologically sorted personal diary entries. It could be as mundane as that, but I think as blogging became much more accepted now, even to the extent of having an ancient and trusted news agency like Reuters sourcing blogs, some are more serious than others, and it is up to the reader him or herself to make up their minds as to the credibility of the information presented, and how it is to be consumed by them.

Unfortunately the hour whizzed by, and as there was another session booked in the same room after us, we couldn’t take any more questions from the floor. Once I walked out of the conference room; however, I was cornered by KM Rakesh, the chief reporter at The Gulf Today for an impromptu interview, which lasted for more than half an hour, I hope he got the story he was looking for. Immediately after that I was cornered by “IN TV” crew for a television interview which again was off the cuff, the questions asked were good, and I hope that I have answered them sufficiently, but for a station whose newscast is not more than 6 minutes, they will have to do some serious editing to fit what I’ve said into their program… they’ll probably shorten it to the worst sound-bite in history! If any of you guys see it, can you let me know how it went? I don’t get that channel on the hotel’s TV…

In between the end of the session and the start of the interviews, I met a friend whom I have not met for about 6 or 8 years! It was wonderful to see Abdul Hamid Al-Zaidi, an old friend from Kuwait again. We have both moved from what we did all those years ago, and Abdul Hamid now manages a group of companies, one of which is – believe it or not – Arab Broadcast Forum to which he kindly invited me to participate in at their next session. I of course would love to, and shall give you more information about that whenever I receive them.

It’s 6:20pm as I write this, another hour before go to the presentation dinner which I am looking forward to. I so love meeting new people, and these intellectuals I have been privileged to meet and listen to them voice their concerns and suggest ways in which to fix our media situation, their thoughts on democracy, on extremism and the rest of the issues discussed is at worst enriching, and at best gives one hope that it is not all gloom and doom in the Arab world. As long as people like these worthy ladies and gentlemen are around, and as long as they are given a platform to share their ideas as in this forum, we will get there sooner than a lot of people think.

The train of reform has certainly left the station, and you’d better get on it and join the reform process, or get left behind.

One closing remark that I said for the IN TV interview I shall leave you with: I was asked – to the effect – what would happen if this reform stops and if it is effective for the various regimes in the Arab region; I replied that “we only have to look to our East to find out the results of not getting on the train, we only have to look at Kathmandu.”

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