New media center to assess quality of reports and effect on KSA

Saudi Arabia issues a royal decree to establish a new center for media and communication studies. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 07 December 2018

New media center to assess quality of reports and effect on KSA

  • The royal decree states that the center will have an independent annual budget approved by the king, and a board of directors of no fewer than five members

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has decided to establish a new independent organization to address the quality of media reports affecting the image of the Kingdom.
A royal decree was issued on Nov. 24 to create a new center for media and communication studies.
The purpose of the center is to effectively gauge local and international opinion and conduct studies to measure and analyze global and regional events and their overall impact.
Its role, as stated by the decree, is to collect and analyze media information, studies and research relating to local, regional and international political, economic and social issues and events. It will study the effects of these issues, positive or negative, on the image of Saudi Arabia and suggest ways to respond.
The center will also conduct surveys to gauge public opinion on local and international events, and will communicate to media organizations information about the country to promote a national sense of belonging and unity. It also aims to learn from domestic and foreign experts in the fields it covers, and will prepare and develop programs and create channels of communication with local and international media outlets to assess local and international opinion.
It will additionally work with research centers and consulting firms, build databases, organize workshops and conferences in cooperation with universities and other specialist bodies, and create training programs.
The royal decree states that the center will have an independent annual budget approved by the king, and a board of directors of no fewer than five members. It will be directly related to the Royal Court organizationally, but remain financially and administratively independent.

A welcome decision
Intellectuals and media figures in Saudi Arabia welcomed the royal decree.
During a discussion on the “Isbou’ Fi Sa’ah” program on the Saudi TV channel Rotana Khalijiyah, the panelists emphasized the need to develop Saudi media institutions to properly represent the Kingdom as a country and a society.
Mohammad Al-Osaimi, a Saudi journalist and writer, said that the Saudi media, at all levels, lacks a clear vision and operation strategy. He also said by that by narrowly targeting a local audience it does not properly address people outside the Kingdom, and so should also focus more on the international audience.
“One of the most important conditions to influence regional and international public opinion is to open up to the international community,” he said.
Al-Osaimi highlighted the need to ease the entry into the Kingdom of the international media and its work, adding: “Our media insist on a too-perfect image; there’s no perfect state in the world, that’s normal.”
Dr. Majed Al-Turki, the director of the Center of Information and Arabian-Russian Studies, said that the establishment of the media center shows that Saudi Arabia’s decision-makers are increasingly aware the importance to the state of carrying out such research, but suggested that its performance should be monitored by an independent institution to ensure it fulfills its role.

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 06 June 2020

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.