Arab News, FII Institute partner to shed light on the future of regional media industry

Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J, Abbas (L) and FII Institute CEO Richard Attias.
Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J, Abbas (L) and FII Institute CEO Richard Attias.
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Updated 20 April 2021

Arab News, FII Institute partner to shed light on the future of regional media industry

Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J, Abbas (L) and FII Institute CEO Richard Attias.
  • Cooperation to produce research, panel discussions and industry level, government white papers

Riyadh: Arab News — the Middle East’s leading English language daily — is partnering with the Future Investment Initiative Institute to shed light on the future of the regional media industry. 

The year-long cooperation — marking the newspaper’s 46th anniversary — will see the co-production of a series of expert panel discussions, surveys, white papers and recommendations of how the industry can survive the digital disruption and create sustainable models for the future. 

“The past two decades saw traditional media dramatically impacted by rapidly developing technology. The rise of tech giants, social media platforms has created an uneven competitive environment and curtailed many traditional media outlets ability to have a sustainable growth model, be it through advertising or subscription models,” said Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Arab News. 

“While technology has had a positive impact on many new businesses and individual content creators/influencers; it has meant that established, credible media organizations are left with no means to sustain the costly process of producing, editing and disseminating credible news. It has also made it easier for other entities to illegally benefit from, infringe on these organizations copy rights.” He added. 

The partnership between Arab News and FII Institute will see the larger impact of technology on economic models of media businesses discussed. It will also cover topics such as the negative impact of social media platforms on matters such as the rise of fake news, increase in hate speech and loss of personal privacy. 

“As part of the FII institute commitment to empowering the world’s brightest ideas to materialize and scale sustainability, we are delighted to partner with Arab News on this deep dive into the media industry, and find solutions to help the industry evolve and resolve its digital transformation issues,” said Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute.

“As such, we invite all key players — be it traditional media, tech companies, social media platforms, advertising agencies, government officials — to take part in the discussions as per the year-long agenda which will be announced soon. By including the relevant stake holders, we are sure our Institute and Arab News can help bringing points of view closer, identify exact issues and hopefully come up with creative solutions to all of them,” added FII Institute’s Richard Attias. 

The first deliverable of this cooperation, will be a white paper produced by the Arab News Research and Studies Unit (RSU) based in London. The paper, to be released in May, will be published under the title of “The Myth of Digital Transformation” and will seek to explain in detail the technical problems that face the media industry from a commercial perspective and what impact do they have on various levels. 

The paper will be available for distribution via Arab News and the FII Institute websites, and a panel discussion will be held following its release to shed light on its findings. 


Dubai Chamber of Commerce, TikTok to launch platform to support SMEs

Participants will get access to a dedicated online educational portal that will offer training in digital marketing and advise businesses on how to get started on TikTok. (Shutterstock)
Participants will get access to a dedicated online educational portal that will offer training in digital marketing and advise businesses on how to get started on TikTok. (Shutterstock)
Updated 05 May 2021

Dubai Chamber of Commerce, TikTok to launch platform to support SMEs

Participants will get access to a dedicated online educational portal that will offer training in digital marketing and advise businesses on how to get started on TikTok. (Shutterstock)
  • ‘We look forward to upskilling this thriving community,’ TikTok official tells Arab News
  • A 4-week educational program will help 1,000 startups and SMEs

LONDON: The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with TikTok to create and launch the Dubai Chamber — TikTok Academy.

A four-week educational program will help 1,000 startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region to grow their businesses using the content-creation platform.

Participants will get access to a dedicated online educational portal that will offer training in digital marketing and advise businesses on how to get started on TikTok, creative content, marketing campaign creation and optimization. 

“We’re excited to join forces with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in supporting the digitization of startups and SMEs in the region,” Shant Oknayan, general manager of global business solutions at TikTok, told Arab News.

“We look forward to upskilling this thriving community, who will not only become experts in content creation and digital marketing, but in turn expedite their growth by leveraging the TikTok platform in this challenging year.” 

Participants will benefit from various sessions on dedicated business canvassing for startup ideas, and knowledge-sharing sessions with industry experts.

Upon completion of the program, participants will receive a digital participation badge and a chance to win prizes for best TikTok video and best campaign. 


Anti-Islam pundit leads ‘France’s Fox News’ channel

Anti-Islam pundit leads ‘France’s Fox News’ channel
Updated 05 May 2021

Anti-Islam pundit leads ‘France’s Fox News’ channel

Anti-Islam pundit leads ‘France’s Fox News’ channel
  • Éric Zemmour, an essayist with three convictions for hate speech, was hired by CNews in 2019
  • Zemmour has been accused in recent weeks by several women of sexual assault

LONDON: CNews, a free channel that has been dubbed “France’s Fox News,” pulled ahead as the most-watched 24-hour news broadcast in France for the first time on Monday, led by anti-Islam pundit Éric Zemmour.

Zemmour, an essayist with three convictions for hate speech, was hired by CNews in 2019, when the news channel switched its format to feature evenings dominated by conservative opinion and verbal clashes.  

On his show, Zemmour blamed Islam for “driving France toward disaster” and accused thousands of unaccompanied minors who have migrated to France in recent years as being “thieves, murderers and rapists” who should be expelled.

The 62-year-old’s anti-Islam and anti-immigration rhetoric was condemned by the state broadcasting authority but was conversely met with cheers from millions watching his evening show. 

As a result, he emerged as a possible leader for the “patriotic” right as an alternative to Marine Le Pen, the right-wing candidate. Thirteen percent of voters would reportedly back a Zemmour candidacy in the 2022 presidential election.

Zemmour has been accused in recent weeks by several women, including journalists and a town councilor, of sexually assaulting them over the past 15 years. CNews said that it is standing behind its star broadcaster and that he would remain on the air.


Iranian state TV shows video of missile blowing up US Capitol building

The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly broadcast the video on Sunday. (Screenshot)
The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly broadcast the video on Sunday. (Screenshot)
Updated 06 May 2021

Iranian state TV shows video of missile blowing up US Capitol building

The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly broadcast the video on Sunday. (Screenshot)
  • The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly broadcast the video on Sunday
  • The 11-second clip featured armed IRGC forces marching in formation, a missile being launched at an undisclosed location, followed by scenes of the US Capitol imploding in flames

LONDON: Iranian state TV has aired a propaganda video showing a missile blowing up the US Capitol building.

The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reportedly broadcast the video on Sunday just before Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was due to give a televised speech.

The 11-second clip featured armed IRGC forces marching in formation, a missile being launched at an undisclosed location, followed by scenes of the US Capitol imploding in flames. The video then showed Iranian clerics walking toward Jerusalem.

According to Kasra Aarabi, an analyst at the Tony Blair Institute, the music playing in the background of the video is a Shia Islamist song, with lyrics describing the US Capitol as a “palace of oppression” that was “destroyed by the Alavi (Imam Ali’s) IRGC, and the good news of the liberation of Quds (Jerusalem) arrives from Iran.”

The screening coincided with nuclear talks currently taking place between Iran and the US in Vienna. Reports suggested that at the time of the video broadcast, the political foes were edging closer to an agreement on resuming the abandoned 2015 nuclear deal.


#MatbakhYouTube iftar cook-a-thon concludes

Weeklong challenge brought together 9 creators from across MENA region. (Supplied)
Weeklong challenge brought together 9 creators from across MENA region. (Supplied)
Updated 05 May 2021

#MatbakhYouTube iftar cook-a-thon concludes

Weeklong challenge brought together 9 creators from across MENA region. (Supplied)
  • Weeklong challenge brought together 9 creators from across MENA region

DUBAI: YouTube has concluded its weeklong iftar cooking challenge #MatbakhYouTube (YouTube Kitchen), which brought together nine creators from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Syria, Palestine, Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon to prepare an iftar meal from April 25 to May 3.

The challenge kicked off with the Anasala family, who posted the first video on April 25, in which their daughter Mila helped prepare the iftar meal for the day. At the end of each video, the creator passed the chef’s hat on to another creator.

The nine who participated in the challenge are the Anasalas, BJ Life, Meshael MR, Mohamed Moshaya, Estube Gaming, Droos Online, Noor Stars, Azza Zarour and Lama Shreif.

The creators come from different backgrounds covering a variety of topics including beauty, lifestyle, gaming and comedy.

They range from smaller creators with about 400,000 subscribers such as Meshael MR and Moshaya, to bigger ones such as the Anasalas with 11 million and Noor Stars with 17 million.

“Coming together virtually, and collaborating with other creators to spark joy amongst our viewers, who might be going through difficult times, means a lot to me,” Zarour told Arab News.  

The objective was to create a sense of togetherness among the YouTube creator community. “To many of us, this is the second Ramadan spent under varying degrees of COVID-19 restrictions,” Tarek Amin, YouTube director for the Middle East and North Africa, told Arab News.

“This means that many people are still unable to take part in that essential Ramadan tradition of coming together over iftar.”

Moshaya said: “We felt a special connection with the other YouTubers involved since we all had to do this together. The kids in particular found it entertaining looking up yummy dishes on YouTube and attempting to make them.”

The lockdowns had people spending more time online looking for everything from virtual events to cooking and meditation.

Viewership of educational videos on YouTube witnessed an increase; watch time of science and math videos increased by 200 percent, said Amin.

In Saudi Arabia, 95 percent of people watched DIY content, and 94 percent said they used online resources to watch or access educational content, according to research by Ipsos MORI.

More and more creators are crafting content specifically for the holy month, Amin said. “The Ramadan vlogs and routines have always been there, but we’re seeing creators produce their own versions of Ramadan shows,” he added.

“In 2019 and 2020, the Saudi Reporters released ‘Boodi and Zouzou,’ a fantasy animation about the two brothers, and in 2021 Hadeel Marei released her series-style show ‘Musalsal Kabsa,’ which follows her in her journey to fame.”

This is resulting in “more advertisers embracing the power of advanced audiences on YouTube by activating better targeting methods and launching more personalized ads,” said Amin.


Facebook board upholds Trump suspension

Facebook's independent oversight board was set for a momentous decision on the platform's ban of former US president Donald Trump. (File/AFP)
Facebook's independent oversight board was set for a momentous decision on the platform's ban of former US president Donald Trump. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 May 2021

Facebook board upholds Trump suspension

Facebook's independent oversight board was set for a momentous decision on the platform's ban of former US president Donald Trump. (File/AFP)
  • The social network’s quasi-independent Oversight Board voted to uphold Trump’s ban from the platform

SAN FRANCISCO: Former President Donald Trump won’t return to Facebook — for now.
The social network’s quasi-independent Oversight Board voted to uphold his ban from the platform after his account was suspended four months ago for inciting violence that led to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
While upholding the suspension, the board faulted Facebook for the way it made the decision.
The board said the ongoing risk of serious violence justified Facebook’s suspension at the time, but said it “was not appropriate for Facebook to impose an ‘indefinite’ suspension.”
The board said Facebook was seeking to avoid its responsibilities by applying “a vague, standardless penalty” and then referring the case to the board to resolve.
The board agreed with Facebook that that two of Trump’s Jan. 6 posts “severely violated” the content standards of both Facebook and Instagram.
“We love you. You’re very special,” he said in the first post, and “great patriots” and “remember this day forever” in the second. Those violated Facebook’s rules against praising or supporting people engaged in violence, the board said.
The board says Facebook has six months to reexamine the “arbitrary penalty” it imposed on Jan. 7 and decide on another penalty that reflects the “gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm.”
The board says the new penalty must be “clear, necessary and proportionate” and consistent with Facebook’s rules for severe violations.
The board says if Facebook decides to restore Trump’s accounts, the company must be able to promptly address further violations.
Trump has also been permanently banned from Twitter.
Controversial decision
Trump’s suspension was the first time Facebook had blocked a current president, prime minister or head of state. Facebook’s oversight board said it received more than 9,000 comments from the public on the Trump ban, the most it has had for a case so far.
Several academics and civil rights groups have publicly shared their letters urging the board to block Trump permanently, while Republican lawmakers and some free expression advocates have criticized the decision.
Since taking action on Trump, social media companies have faced calls from some rights groups and activists to be more consistent in their approach to other world leaders who have pushed or broken their rules, such as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Leader Ali Khamenei, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and lawmakers linked to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I would hope that they’re also thinking about the precedent-setting of this,” said Katie Harbath, a former Facebook public policy director and a fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Bipartisan Policy Center. “What does that look like internationally, what does that look like in the long term?” she added.
The Oversight Board, an idea that Zuckerberg first publicly floated in 2018, currently has 20 members, including former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and several law experts and rights advocates. Decisions need only majority approval.
The board, which some have dubbed Facebook’s “Supreme Court,” has been hailed as a novel experiment by some researchers but blasted by other critics who have been skeptical over its independence or view it as a PR stunt to deflect attention from the company’s more systemic problems.
It is funded through a $130 million trust created by Facebook and has so far made rulings on a small number of cases from hate speech to nudity.
Facebook’s head of global affairs Nick Clegg told Reuters in January that he was “very confident” of the company’s case on Trump’s ban and said “any reasonable person” looking at Facebook’s policies and the circumstances would agree.