Arab Involvement in International Media
Arab Involvement in International Media


By Israel Zwick

Supporters of the State of Israel will soon learn the answer to one of the most vexing questions that have been plaguing them since the beginning of the Palestinian intifada in September, 2000. The question is: Why does the international media continue to misrepresent Israel and demonize it for a “harsh military occupation that is violating the human rights of the Palestinian people and establishing illegal Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian lands.” In contrast, there is an outpouring of sympathy for the “poor, oppressed, disenfranchised Palestinians who are struggling for liberation from the lengthy Israeli occupation.” The stories on the Arab-Israeli conflict in the international media have more spin on them than a Chanukah dreidl. The reasons for this will soon become evident at the upcoming conference of the Arab Thought Foundation in Dubai, UAE, on December 5, 2005 (www.arabandworldmedia.org). The conference will take place near the new, high-tech Dubai Media City (www.dubaimediacity.com).

What is Dubai?

Dubai is a coastal area on the Persian Gulf. It is one of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates, which is located on the Gulf, between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The UAE is among the smaller Arab states. With an area of 83,000 sq. km, it is slightly smaller than the State of Maine but almost four times the size of the State of Israel. It’s population is only about 2.5 million, of which more than half are non-nationals. Three of the September 11 hijackers came from the UAE.

Though relatively small in size, the UAE is one of the wealthiest of the 22 Arab states. On February 7, 2005, FDI magazine, a publication of Financial Times in London, named Dubai the “Middle Eastern City of the Future.” The magazine noted that, “Major achievements include the creation of the largest man-made harbour in the world, a huge industrial complex, and the creation of a major air travel hub and financial services center for the entire region.” The article then went on to list “more than a dozen big investment projects scheduled for completion before 2010, representing investment of significantly more than $12 billion.”

In a lengthy article in its travel section on May 8, 2005, The New York Times called Dubai, “The Oz of the Middle East.” The article observed that Dubai’s Emirates Office Tower is the tallest building in the Middle East, about 25 meters shorter than the Empire State Building. Dubai is currently building what will be the world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai. At close to 800 meters, the Burj Dubai will be more than twice the size of the Empire State Building. It will even dwarf the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

What is the Arab Thought Foundation Conference?

According to its website, www.arabandworldmedia.org, “Top journalists and media executives from around the world will join their Arab colleagues at the invitational gathering in Dubai on the 5th and 6th of December 2005. Delegates will discuss changes in the Arab world, build relationships, validate assumptions, develop a deeper understanding of the region, and make sure they are Getting it Right (sic). The format will be highly interactive, led by provocative moderators, who will elicit candor, and manage debate about complex questions.”

There is a long list of speakers for the conference. The first of the Key Speakers is HRH Alwaleed bin Talal, who is described as a “tycoon prince for his very successful investment ventures. His portfolio is strong in media and entertainment companies, and he will share his insights on the best media investments today.”

The website for the Conference also acknowledged the assistance of the Arab Advisors Group, www.arabadvisors.com. This group contains a number of highly educated and experienced people in the area of Information Services. The president is Jawad Jalal Albassi, a telecommunications expert who was trained in Boston, Mass.

What is Dubai Media City?

According to its website, www.7days.ae, reported the Iranian president’s call for the destruction of Israel. One of the readers commented, “As 7 days frequently claims to report facts objectively, it seems like a glaring omission not to have mentioned the wholesale condemnation of Ahmadinejad’s proclamation. It is not only the Americans and the Israelis who have spoken out against him, but also many other countries and the Secretary General of the UN, but probably most significantly, the Palestinians themselves. Your objectivity is drawn into question by the facts you choose not to report.”

On November 4, 2005, israel.zwick@earthlink.net

(c) 2005, I. Zwick, NYC

Israel Zwick is a commentator on the Middle East based in New York.

Reprinted by permission.