‘Path to peace is clear but accord is still distant, media must fix its narrative,’ Yemeni PM tells Arab Media Forum

The prime minister said the main priority for the country was to find a lasting solution and to provide essential services to uplift citizens’ standard of living. (AMF/File)
The prime minister said the main priority for the country was to find a lasting solution and to provide essential services to uplift citizens’ standard of living. (AMF/File)
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Updated 28 May 2024
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‘Path to peace is clear but accord is still distant, media must fix its narrative,’ Yemeni PM tells Arab Media Forum

‘Path to peace is clear but accord is still distant, media must fix its narrative,’ Yemeni PM tells Arab Media Forum
  • Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak says that years of war have had catastrophic effect on ordinary citizens
  • Media should spread awareness and start dialogue about Yemen’s situation, PM urges

DUBAI: Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak has said that while the peace process with the Houthis is “clear,” a formal accord remains out of reach, as he emphasized the crucial role the media must play in shaping the narrative.

Speaking on the sidelines of the three-day Arab Media Forum in Dubai, the prime minister addressed the ongoing challenges faced by his country and the importance of accurate media representation about unfolding events.

In an interview with Syrian news anchor Zeina Yazigi, Mubarak highlighted the daily hardships faced by both himself and ordinary Yemeni citizens due to the ongoing conflict.

“What we are going through is the accumulation of the years of war Yemen has gone through,” Mubarak said.

“We continue to face a dire humanitarian disaster brought upon by the lack of security, by natural disasters, and by the tense situation in the Red Sea. The standard of living remains lacking. If we build a school today, a rocket might destroy it the following morning.”

The prime minister said the main priority for the country was to find a lasting solution and to provide essential services to uplift citizens’ standard of living.

He said: “Our oil refineries stopped operating in October 2022 and that has stripped the government of over 70 percent of its resources. You therefore have a hard time to even provide electricity to citizens.

“The road map to peace is clear. Many negotiations and initiatives have been brought forth by our brothers in Saudi Arabia and Oman. Long negotiations have also taken place in Stockholm and Kuwait but in order for a full ceasefire to happen, you need two willing partners and the Houthis are not yet willing.”

Yemen has been engaged in a bloody civil war between the internationally recognized government and the Iran-backed Houthi group since 2014.

Mubarak, who was kidnapped by the Houthis in 2015 and has publicly shared his experience of fearing for his life, described the war as “ideological,” but expressed hope for peace and stability.

He said: “Yemen is at an important strategic geographical location, with 34 million citizens and very rich natural resources.

“To neglect it is to neglect (a good chunk) of the world’s resources. We are at war, an ideological battle with the Houthis. What morals does a party have when it bombs schoolchildren? When it strips its country of its resources?”

Mubarak stressed the media’s vital role in remedying false narratives.

He added: “The Houthis’ actions in the Red Sea predate the events of Oct. 7. The two are not directly related and it is important that the media is able to distinguish this fact, to spread awareness and start a dialogue.

“It was also previously thought that the Houthis had nothing to do with Iran, and that was simply untrue, proven in time by correct media coverage and analysis. Having the full picture is important.”

In a meeting with Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, second deputy ruler of Dubai and chairman of the Dubai Media Council, Mubarak discussed the need for a “unified Arab voice.”

Both sides stressed the important and influential role of the media in supporting stability and enhancing opportunities for peace, promising to work together to develop a framework for preparing a new generation of media professionals.

Mubarak said: “I am proud of my country; it is the cradle of civilization. Despite the hardships, it deserves our sacrifices for a better future.

“We have a strong backbone behind us, the Emiratis, the Saudis and the rest of our brothers. We have a just cause and are keen to maintain our Arab identity and hope for a better future.”


CNN rules for first US presidential debate: no props, muted microphones

CNN rules for first US presidential debate: no props, muted microphones
Updated 16 June 2024
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CNN rules for first US presidential debate: no props, muted microphones

CNN rules for first US presidential debate: no props, muted microphones
  • CNN said candidates eligible to participate must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold needed to win and receive at least 15 percent in four separate national polls

WASHINGTON: The first US presidential debate between incumbent Joe Biden and Republican rival Donald Trump on June 27 will include two commercial breaks, no props and muted microphones except when recognized to speak, CNN said Saturday. In May, the candidates agreed to face off in two debates including one this month that will be moderated by CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash in Atlanta, while the other on Sept. 10 will be hosted by ABC.
CNN said Saturday both candidates will appear at a uniform podium during the 90-minute debate, podium positions will be determined by a coin flip and candidates will be given a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water but cannot use props.
“Microphones will be muted throughout the debate except for the candidate whose turn it is to speak,” CNN said.
CNN, a division of Warner Bros Discovery, said the moderators “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion.”
During the two commercial breaks, campaign staff may not interact with their candidate, and there will be no studio audience.
CNN said candidates eligible to participate must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold needed to win and receive at least 15 percent in four separate national polls. CNN said it is “not impossible” Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is running as an independent, could qualify, saying he has received at least 15 percent in three qualifying polls to date and has qualified for the ballot in six states, making him eligible for 89 electoral college votes.
Debates, which will draw a US live television audience in the tens of millions, are fraught with risks for both candidates, who face a close race. Biden has three preferred debate topics, according to a campaign memo viewed by Reuters: abortion rights, the state of democracy and the economy.
Trump refused to debate his rivals during the Republican nominating race. His team has pointed to immigration, public safety and inflation as key issues ahead of the debate.

 


Indonesia minister threatens to shut down X over adult content

Indonesia minister threatens to shut down X over adult content
Updated 14 June 2024
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Indonesia minister threatens to shut down X over adult content

Indonesia minister threatens to shut down X over adult content
  • X has recently updated its policies to permit consensually produced adult content
  • Minister Budi Arie Setiadi said it had sent a letter to X to demand revision of policy

JAKARTA: Indonesia is prepared to shut down social media platform X if it does not comply with a regulation barring adult content, the country’s communications minister said on Friday.
Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, has strict rules that ban the sharing online of content deemed obscene.
Minister Budi Arie Setiadi told Reuters he had sent a warning letter to X related to this matter.
“We will certainly shut its services down,” he said, pointing to Indonesia’s electronic information and transaction (ITE) law that can carry a six-year jail sentence if someone spreads pornographic content.
His comments in an interview come after the social media platform recently updated its policies to permit consensually produced adult content.
X, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, has not responded to Indonesia’s warning letter, Budi said, adding the government would send more letters before deciding on a potential closure.
X, formerly known as Twitter, did not immediately respond to a request by Reuters for comment.
Indonesians are big users of social media and X has 24.85 million users in the country, according to data gathering business Statista.


New ‘Million Dollar Island’ seasons to be produced at NEOM

New ‘Million Dollar Island’ seasons to be produced at NEOM
Updated 14 June 2024
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New ‘Million Dollar Island’ seasons to be produced at NEOM

New ‘Million Dollar Island’ seasons to be produced at NEOM
  • Talpa Studios recommissions hit reality show for MBC in the Middle East, NET5 in the Netherlands

DUBAI: Talpa Studios, which was founded by John de Mol, the creator of popular shows “The Voice” and “Big Brother,” has recommissioned its reality show “Million Dollar Island” for new seasons in the Middle East and the Netherlands.

The new seasons — titled “Million Dollar Land” or “Ard Al-Million” for MBC in the Middle East and “Million Dollar Desert” for NET5 in the Netherlands  — will be produced at Saudi Arabia’s NEOM production hub, in collaboration with regional production house Blue Engine Studios.

This will be the second season of “Ard Al-Million.” The first season aired on MBC Group’s TV channels MBC1, MBC IRAQ, and Shahid last May.

Produced by Monday Media, “Million Dollar Island” also ran for two seasons in the Netherlands. The new season, however, marks a shift to the desert-oriented format and will be shot at NEOM.

Blue Engine Studios played a key role in facilitating the deal between Talpa Studios and NEOM’s media sector and aims to bring more countries to NEOM’s production hub.

Its work on the Dutch edition included facilitating Monday Media’s production of the latest season, such as sourcing suppliers, permits and equipment as part of the studio’s commitment to establish a hub for the show at NEOM.

Ziad Kebbi, CEO at Blue Engine Studios, said that the “collaboration with NEOM and Talpa Studios underscores our commitment to producing high-quality entertainment that resonates with audiences.”

Unlike previous seasons, which featured 100 contestants, the new seasons will see 30 contestants test their endurance as they navigate the challenges of life in the desert.

There will be other changes to the format revealed when the new seasons go on air.

“These spin-offs preserve “the core principles that have made the original so compelling, while introducing innovative new elements that are perfectly suited to NEOM’s stunning desert scenery,” said Sebastian van Barneveld, director of international distribution at Talpa Studios.

Partnerships such as these ensure “a robust pipeline of productions and afford opportunities to accelerate our media ecosystem while training the next generation of talent,” said Wayne Borg, managing director of NEOM Media Industries.

The broadcast date of the new seasons is yet to be announced. “Ard Al-Million” will air on MBC1 and Shahid.


Al Habtoor scraps plans for Beirut-based TV channel over ‘severe security challenges’

Al Habtoor scraps plans for Beirut-based TV channel over ‘severe security challenges’
Updated 13 June 2024
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Al Habtoor scraps plans for Beirut-based TV channel over ‘severe security challenges’

Al Habtoor scraps plans for Beirut-based TV channel over ‘severe security challenges’
  • The Emirati company says it was targeted by ‘orchestrated campaigns including accusations, slander and threats’ against staff
  • ‘We have encountered insurmountable obstacles that exceed what can reasonably be borne regarding the safety and security of our team,’ says boss Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor

LONDON: Emirati business Al Habtoor Group has abandoned its plans to launch a TV channel in Beirut due to what it described as “severe security challenges,” including physical threats against the company and its employees.

“Following the project announcement, the group encountered a barrage of orchestrated campaigns including accusations, slander, and threats,” the company said.

Those responsible have not been identified but the group said it has filed criminal and civil complaints in Lebanon. It thanked the Lebanese minister of information, Ziad Makary, for his support.

Chairperson Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor confirmed on Tuesday that the launch of the TV channel, which would have focused on cultural, social and sporting content, had been canceled.

“We have encountered insurmountable obstacles that exceed what can reasonably be borne regarding the safety and security of our team,” he said.

“We find ourselves compelled to seek an alternative to launching the project from Lebanon.”

The company, which is based in Dubai, said it is considering alternative locations in “countries that offer a more stable and secure environment supportive of such initiatives.”

The group’s businesses operate in various sectors, including construction, real estate and hospitality in the Middle East, Europe and the US.

It said the aim of the new TV channel was to “spread positivity, success and good stories” from Lebanon. It was expected to create about 300 jobs and the plans included construction of a 100,000-square-meter studio city.

“Our goal has always been to support the Lebanese people and provide content that inspires hope and positivity,” the company said.

“The current situation has left us no choice but to step back from this initiative and abandon the launch of our television station from Lebanon.”


Photojournalist Mohammed Salem discusses award-winning shot  ‘A Palestinian Woman Embraces the Body of Her Niece’

Photojournalist Mohammed Salem discusses award-winning shot  ‘A Palestinian Woman Embraces the Body of Her Niece’
Updated 13 June 2024
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Photojournalist Mohammed Salem discusses award-winning shot  ‘A Palestinian Woman Embraces the Body of Her Niece’

Photojournalist Mohammed Salem discusses award-winning shot  ‘A Palestinian Woman Embraces the Body of Her Niece’

DUBAI: The photojournalist discusses the photograph that won him the 2024 World Press Photo of the Year Award.

I was born in Gaza and have been working in journalism for 20 years. Like my three brothers, I’ve loved photography ever since I was little, and it was my dream to become a photographer. At times like this, photography allows us to share our message with the world. It allows people to see us and what is happening to us. 

I regard this ongoing war on Gaza as something we have never seen before. I cannot imagine anything more difficult happening to us. It has left nothing untouched — not a rock, not a tree, not a human, not a child. The difficulties that we have endured are unimaginable.  

I was working when I was informed that my brother — my support system — had been martyred. Most of my cousins were martyred too, and my siblings’ homes were destroyed. Death was so close to us.  

This photograph was taken at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. I was actually living in the hospital, because I had been displaced. Wrapped in white cloth, the killed child that you see is being embraced by her aunt. She came to the hospital to see who was alive from her family. There was a lot of blood on the floor and she was running around in a maddened way. When she found the child, she carried her to the corner of a room and embraced her tightly. I have never such as a strong embrace before. It felt like true love — just the two of them.  

Many violent pictures have come out of Gaza, but a picture like this enters people’s hearts. You look at it and your heart aches. The award came at a moment of sadness: I was not happy, because there was no time for happiness given the environment I am in. But my biggest joy is that this image reached people around the world.