DUBAI: War reporting as a female journalist, how to tackle fraud, and the potential of women in the Middle East and North Africa were all part of the discussions on the opening morning of the Arab Women Forum, held in Dubai.
The two-day event is set to see speakers from a range of industries, with Saudi Ambassador to the United States Princess Reema bint Bandar delivering remarks by video at the beginning of the first sessions.
Others addressing the forum include Arab News’ Assistant Editor-in-Chief Noor Nugali, Skynews reporter Arizh Mukhammed, and the Tinder Swindler’s Cecilie Fjellhøy and Pernilla Sjoholm.
“Reporting about the war is an extraordinary, unpredictable event”
“I prefer not to categorize myself as a war reporter. I am prepared to report on politics and business wherever the story carries me,” Sky News' Arizh Mukhammed told Arab News in a fascinating interview on the sidelines of the event. “My advice to a young female reporter is to educate herself, always look at two sides of a story and assess if you are objective enough to report on a story.”
The half-Russian, half-Syrian speaks three languages and holds a doctorate in pharmacology but describes her current role as one of the most challenging and rewarding of her life.
GCC gets snappy
The Gulf Cooperation Council region is the most engaging in the world for Snapchat, according to Hussein Freijeh, Snapchat's general manager for the Middle East and North Africa.
While speaking at the forum he said: “This region for Snapchat is the most engaging globally, specifically in the GCC, overall Qatar, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.”
He added that a human touch blended with technology is necessary to eliminate the spread of fake news on online platforms.
“Army of journalists needed”
Fake news was here before the advent of social media platforms, Faisal Abbas, Arab News Editor-in-Chief, said during his speech at the forum.
According to Abbas, fake news or lying is part of human society, dating back to the early days of humanity with Adam and Eve — long before Twitter or Facebook.
“I think it important to distinguish [a] very important fact: fake news was not invented with social media, we are suffering now due to speed and availability of the tools in everybody’s hands,” Abbas said.
“Profound and historic change for women in Saudi Arabia in the region”
Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, used her keynote speech to talk up the importance of not just opening doors for women to enter the workplace, but welcoming them in.
“We have millions of talented, motivated women eager to contribute, and they are the key to social, cultural and economic progress in the Kingdom and, frankly, in the Arab world and around the world,” she said.
Storytellers From The War Front
Assistant Editor-in-Chief, Arab News Noor Nugali moderated the Storytellers From The War Front session at the Arab Women Forum, Dubai, featuring Skynews reporter Arizh Mukhammed and Alhadath Senior News Anchor Christiane Baissary.
Baissary told the forum that there is a common misconception that women are not suited for war coverage as people think women are emotional and sensitive compared to men, Baissary told the forum.
“A soldier told me that women should not cover in the war zone. He was trying to convince me that I should not stay to cover the war, it's not the mentality in the Middle East but everywhere,” said Baissary.
Baissary noted that things have changed now, and women are currently getting more chances to cover wars.
During the session, Sky News reporter Arizh Mukhammed said that fear will be there in the minds of reporters as they cover from the war front.
“Your courage must have limits. When you are going to cover war, you have your fears, but they must be put under control,” said Mukhammed.
She also added that women differ from men in war reporting as they create humanitarian journalistic materials.