DUBAI: Over 100 influencers from the Arab Social Media Influencers Club (ASMIC) gathered Tuesday at an event at the site of the Expo 2020 Dubai to look at ways to promote the event slated to launch next month.
The 100 prominent social media influencers and content creators were invited to familiarize themselves with the importance of the mega event for Dubai, the UAE and the wider region.
They were joined by Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai, and Maitha Buhumaid, Director of Dubai Press Club.
“In a few weeks, we will welcome the world to the largest international event to be held in the UAE and the region. We are in the final stages of preparing to host an exceptional event that reflects the aspirations of our country, leadership and people,” Al Hashimi said.
Buhumaid, meanwhile, highlighted the important role that social media influencers and content creators can play in sharing inspiring stories from Expo 2020 Dubai while highlighting the event’s key objectives and positive impact across the region.
“We are confident that social media influencers and content creators will provide exceptional coverage of Expo 2020 Dubai and use their platforms to share inspirational stories of innovation that will emerge during the event,” she said.
The event will kick off on Oct. 1 and run until Mar. 31.
US journalist freed in Lebanon after call by rights groups
Nada Homsi, the journalist, said after her release that her arrest was part of an intimidation campaign used by Lebanon's security agencies against foreign journalists
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said Homsi was arrested without a judicial order on Nov. 16
Updated 08 December 2021
BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities freed Wednesday a freelance American journalist who was detained in Beirut last month. The release came just hours after two international human rights groups called her detention arbitrary and demanded that she be set free.
Nada Homsi, the journalist, said after her release that her arrest was part of an intimidation campaign used by Lebanon’s security agencies against foreign journalists.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said Homsi was arrested without a judicial order on Nov. 16 by members of Lebanon’s General Security Directorate. The reasons for the raid remain unknown and her detention is now arbitrary, the groups had said.
“I feel good that I’m free but I shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place,” Homsi told The Associated Press, adding that Lebanese security agencies are “going after foreign journalists so that they can’t cover things that are happening in Lebanon.”
Since Lebanon’s economic meltdown began two years ago, many foreign and local journalists have reported on widespread corruption among the country’s political class, which has been running the small nation since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.
“Nada is at home and the decision to deport her has been dropped,” Homsi’s lawyer, Diala Chehade, told the AP, adding that all her papers and documents were given back to her.
Earlier, Chehade said that security force that raided Homsi’s apartment found a small amount of cannabis. Chehade said the officers then called the public prosecutor, who issued an arrest warrant for Homsi and her partner, a Palestinian national. The officers confiscated her electronics and some documents, she said.
General Security members are deployed at Lebanon’s border crossings, ports and the country’s only international airport, and the department usually deals with foreigners by issuing visas and residency permits.
“Not only did General Security officers raid Homsi’s apartment without producing a judicial warrant, but they also violated her rights in detention by denying her access to a lawyer,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Chehade said Homsi lives in Beirut’s predominantly Christian neighborhood of Achrafieh and had earlier this year raised a Palestinian flag on her apartment. This angered a district administrator who complained to the Lebanese army. Army intelligence members then came to the apartment and asked Homsi to remove the flag, which she did, Chehade said.
Homsi wrote a post on her Facebook account detailing the flag incident in May, her lawyer said. “I believe this was the motive that led to the raid,” Chehade said, adding that they found the cannabis during the raid.
The two rights groups said that although the public prosecutor ordered her release on Nov. 25, General Security issued a deportation order for her and “continues to detain her arbitrarily.”
On her Twitter account, Homsi writes that she is currently working for National Public Radio and usually writes about Syria and Lebanon. Homsi has worked with several Arab and international outlets, including most recently, NPR.
General Security officers had continued to insist that Homsi was being detained “for security reasons,” but they have failed to provide any details to Chehade to allow her to prepare a defense, the group said. They added that no security or military charges have been filed against Homsi, but she was charged for consumption of drugs.
Chehade filed a request to release Homsi on Nov. 25, and on the same day, the Beirut Public Prosecutor ordered her release. However, General Security continued to detain Homsi under the pretext that she was working in the country without a proper work permit.
Chehade said General Security officials told her Homsi is under arrest for security reasons, without saying what the reasons are.
“The continuation of the arrest is either a stubborn act by General Security or a deliberate policy that they have done with other foreigners before” to deport them, Chehade said.
SRMG announced as official publisher for Red Sea International Film Festival 2021
Region’s leading media group appointed as the official publisher at one of the Middle East and North Africa’s biggest film festivals
SRMG and RSIFF have established a shared commitment of championing the multimedia and creative arts industries, making them natural partners for the 2021 Festival
Updated 08 December 2021
RIYADH: The global media house from the Middle East, Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG), has been selected as the official publisher for one of the region’s most exciting creative arts events, the Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF).
The partnership will leverage the reach of SRMG with its audiences of 165 million people across the Middle East and globally. Covering RSIFF programming in the run up to and during the festival, editorial and advertising content will be featured on SRMG’s digital, social, broadcast and print platforms across more than 30 of the region’s most impactful media titles. These include Asharq Al-Awsat, Arab News, Asharq News, Hia and Sayidaty.
SRMG and RSIFF have established a shared commitment of championing the multimedia and creative arts industries, making them natural partners for the 2021 Festival. SRMG has built a five-decade legacy as a media and content powerhouse, while RSIFF has carved the way for a new generation of Saudi creatives and storytellers since its inception.
Saleh Aldowais, Chief Operating Officer at Saudi Research and Media Group, said: “We’re excited about our appointment as the official publishing partner for one of Saudi Arabia’s leading creative cultural events, the Red Sea International Film Festival. This is both a strategic and creative alliance for SRMG and RSIFF, reflecting our shared goals and commitment to creating the highest quality media and arts content for and of the region.”
Shivani Pandiya Malhotra, Red Sea International Film Festival Managing Director, added: “We are proud to be partnering with one of most dynamic media houses, SRMG, for the 2021 edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival. The Festival aims to promote cross-cultural exchange and foster the growth of the Arab film industry, positioning Saudi Arabia as a contributor to the international film industry while delivering a world-class event for local communities. Working together with SRMG, we are aligned in our goal of creating a platform to new and established Arab voices in the creative arts, in 2021 and beyond.”
The 2021 festival is expected to be the most prolific yet for RSIFF, with 135 films premiering at the event from more than 67 countries. RSIFF will showcase the best films from the region and a carefully curated selection of international acclaimed titles - encouraging dialogue and presenting different cultures and traditions from around the world. The Festival provides Saudi talent with a platform for storytelling, and through dedicated funds develops and nurtures local filmmakers as well as promoting film production in the region.
Operating since 1972, Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG) is a global media house from the Middle East and North Africa with a portfolio of more than 30 major media outlets – including Asharq Al-Awsat, Asharq News and Arab News – delivering information, news, and lifestyle content to a monthly audience of more than 165 million.
Listed on the Tadawul stock exchange in Riyadh, SRMG is focused on delivering original, exclusive, and premium content in multiple languages to empower consumers with news and information through digital and social platforms, in addition to its leading cable and satellite reach.
Through its many platforms, content, and voices, SRMG is uniquely positioned to capitalize on fast-growing opportunities for digital content distribution, online advertising and commercial partnerships in the media and entertainment market worldwide.
Headquartered in Riyadh, KSA, SRMG has offices in 18 locations around the world, including London and Dubai. Find out more about SRMG here: www.srmg.com.
The inaugural edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival in partnership with the MBC GROUP, Saudia Airlines and VOX Cinemas is set to bring the best in Arab and World Cinema to the UNESCO world heritage site of Jeddah Old Town from December 6-15, 2021.
The Festival will showcase a compelling slate of new and diverse films, alongside a retrospective programme celebrating the masters of cinema as well as introducing audiences to exciting new voices from the region and beyond. The Festival will provide a platform for Arab filmmakers and industry professionals from around the world to connect, host feature and short film competitions, and present a series of events, masterclasses, and workshops to support emerging talent. Find out more about the Red Sea Film Festival: www.redseafilmfest.com
Publicis Groupe employees can work from anywhere in world for limited time
Advertising giant introduces ‘Work Your World’ experience for staff
Updated 08 December 2021
PARIS: Publicis Groupe has announced a new global employee program called “Work Your World.”
Launching in January 2022, the program will allow Publicis Groupe employees to work from any country where the company is present, for up to six weeks a year.
The move comes after nearly two years of organizations adopting different work models as the pandemic led to many employees working from home and continuing to do so after restrictions were eased.
“We have been working hard on how to turn the hybrid world into new opportunities for everyone at Publicis, and make the future of work more creative and more daring,” said Arthur Sadoun, global chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe.
The new work model is possible, in part, via Marcel, the company’s internal artificial intelligence platform that connects all its global employees. Through Marcel’s landing page, employees will be able to browse different destinations in more 100 countries; see live health and travel updates on different locations; find accommodation through “Home Swap” — essentially an “Airbnb” for Publicis employees — and access a 24-hour contact center.
“Our people have been incredibly resourceful despite the limitations of the pandemic. They deserve to work for a company as resourceful as they are. ‘Work Your World’ can help every Publicis employee “work their world” in a bigger, better and brighter way thanks to our scale, diversity and Marcel,” said Carla Serrano, global chief strategy officer of Publicis Groupe.
The company will release more details about the program later this month.
INTERVIEW: ‘Female creators in MENA are incredibly passionate’
Hala Ajil, partner manager at YouTube MENA talks women-led content creators on YouTube
Updated 08 December 2021
DUBAI: Earlier this year, in October, YouTube relaunched YouTube Batala, a channel by YouTube in the Middle East and North Africa region dedicated to spotlighting the next generation of Arabic-speaking women creators.
YouTube Batala better serves as a hub than a channel itself consisting of over 250 women-led channels from across the region. It features a collection of playlists, categorized by genre, with each playlist containing various creators.
The playlists span genres from beauty and fashion to music and gaming. In fact, gaming has been one of the most important genres in terms of its growth among female audiences as well as content creation.
In 2016-17, when YouTube first launched the Batala project and other women-focused events and initiatives, there were only five women-led channels with more than 1 million subscribers. Today, there are more than 150 women-led channels, with more than 1 million subscribers in the MENA region.
Arab News spoke to Hala Ajil, partner manager at YouTube MENA to learn more about the relaunch of Batala and the growth of female content creators on the platform.
Why was Batala discontinued and relaunched?
The Batala program started in 2017 but was never discontinued. Since 2017, we have been hosting creator events in order to help educate, empower and inspire Arabic-speaking female content creators everywhere. Earlier this year, I was proud to see us relaunch the hub arm of the program, which is effectively a YouTube channel that acts as an index to all great women creators who are part of the program.
(Batala was first launched in 2017 when YouTube held the first-ever female event in Saudi Arabia and launched the Batala hub, which was dedicated to showcasing the diversity of female talent in the region.)
Can you tell us about YouTube's initiatives in empowering female creators?
Over the years, Batala underwent several shape-shifts. We ran two #AnaBatala workshops: in 2018, we ran one in Dubai based on #IamRemarkable with the goal of empowering underrepresented groups, by helping them focus on what made them ‘remarkable’ and another one in 2019 in Cairo during our YouTube pop-up event. COVID-19 prevented us from holding any in-person workshops in 2020 and 2021, so we decided to revamp Batala and hold a three-week virtual Batala workshop and re-launch the hub (this year).
Can you give us some insight into male vs female creators on the platform?
Female content isn’t easy to find in general, and although there’s still a large gap between male and female content creators on the platform, we’re seeing huge amounts of growth in female content. We’re working on several initiatives — Batala being the main one — to help bridge that gap.
How have female creators in the region evolved on the platform?
Certain nuances in the region can challenge women on the platform, and prevent them from creating content, but that’s how passion projects are born. Today, the female creator community is incredibly diverse, with women leading channels across all kinds of genres, from lifestyle and fashion to horror stories and book reviews. One of the things we’re proudest of is how passionate these women are, and that’s one of the main reasons we launched Batala: to celebrate and grow this dynamic community of creative storytellers.
What are the content trends you see among female creators?
Female-led content was typically the content you’d find on most social platforms, such as ‘beauty’ and ‘lifestyle’ content. However, over the years, we’ve seen their content mature and develop; we’re now seeing women delve into the vlogging world, where they create challenges and pranks, travel the world, and collaborate with other creators. We’ve recently seen them start to focus on ‘gaming’ content; more and more females are becoming gamers or at least gaming on the side.
How do female creators in the region differ from ones in Western markets?
Female creators in MENA are incredibly passionate. They want to be heard, and they’ll work hard to ensure they are. These women come from a range of different backgrounds and subcultures; some are still students, others are mothers, and most of them have to juggle several jobs at the same time.
This doesn’t stop them from doing what they love and sharing their world with their audience, as their channels are a window into their world.
What do brands need to know about working with female creators?
Content creators are essentially storytellers; their ability to connect with audiences through opinions, ideas, and events that they are passionate about is what makes them such a powerful force that brands can harness.
The most successful brand and creator collaborations are often the ones where the creator gets to test the product beforehand and genuinely ends up falling in love with it. That way, the product placement can seamlessly fit into the creator’s channel without looking like an advert.
A good example of this is Azza Zarour’s collaboration with Lancome. Lancome wanted to raise awareness about its range of skincare products. Instead of just creating a video talking about the products, Azza worked with Lancome to make a video with her husband, where he chooses her skincare (a common trend on YouTube). The video was authentic, and had a similar look and feel to the rest of the videos on her channel, which is what made it a success.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the arrest of Iraqi reporter Hamid Majed and urged Iraqi police to release him immediately
Updated 08 December 2021
LONDON: The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday condemned the arrest of Iraqi reporter Hamid Majed and urged Iraqi police to release him immediately.
Hamid Majed, a reporter for Al-Ahd TV, was called to the Anbar Crime Directorate in the city of Habbaniyah on Wednesday to discuss an “important topic” over coffee. Once Majed arrived, however, police officers arrested him.
“Luring a journalist to a police station to arrest him is not only shameful practice, but an abuse of police power,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado.
“We call on Iraqi authorities to release Hamid Majed immediately and allow journalists to do their work freely and without fear of retaliation.”
Director of public relations at Al-Ahd TV, Reda Al-Akaili, said that Majed’s arrest is likely related to his reporting on the deteriorating conditions and public services in Anbar province in Iraq.
His reporting “has angered the relevant authorities and officials in Anbar province and prompted them to arrest Majed and prevent him from performing his duties,” Al-Akaili said.
In the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, Iraq ranked 163rd out of 180 countries. Since the 2019 anti-government protests, Iraqi journalists have increasingly been targeted for covering protests, investigating corruption, and reporting the demands of demonstrators.