BEIRUT: Journalists from across the world gathered in Lebanon’s Beirut Waterfront to cover the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit on Sunday despite the tumultuous days leading up to the event.
It was not just Arab and Middle Eastern journalists who were present at the summit’s official media center; reporters from Japan, Europe and the US were also in attendance.
There were conflicting reports on the number of journalists attending, ranging from 600 to double that. The summit’s official spokesman Dany Najim said 1,200 journalists covered the event.
In addition to journalists working with news organizations and institutions were those traveling as part of country delegations.
The Arab League sent 11 journalists, while official numbers put an average of 10 journalists per delegation.
“We must cover the summit. The region is very important to us. It’s where we buy oil and gas,” said a Japanese journalist.
TV, print and radio journalists were given the necessary equipment and space to allow constant reporting of the summit’s opening remarks. While they were placed in a hall adjacent to the main summit meeting room, two large screens were continuously airing the summit’s activities and talks.
Rigid security protocols were in place for the safety of attending delegations. Roads starting from Beirut’s Phoenicia Hotel in Minet Al-Hosn district all the way to Al-Nahar newspaper’s offices in Martyrs’ Square were closed as part of a security zone.
Transportation of journalists was organized by the summit, where a bus was available round the clock to pick them up and take them to the Monroe Hotel — the media hub for the summit — in Minet Al-Hosn, before taking another bus to the Beirut Waterfront.
Several stores and restaurants were forced to shut for the days of the summit, while some issued mass text messages to the public to announce that they will stay open.
This is the fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit. The previous ones were hosted by Kuwait in 2009, Egypt in 2011, and Saudi Arabia in 2013.