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Sheikha Fatima opens the Arab Women Media Forum

posted on 03/02/2002: 2035 views

Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the President's wife and President of the UAE General Women's Union, opened at the headquarters of the women's union here today the Arab Women Media Forum. Before the inaugural session, Sheikha Fatima received Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, Wife of President Mohammed Husni Mubarak of Egypt, Princess Lalla Hasnaa, Sister of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, Mrs. Fatima Khaled, Wife of President Omar Hasan Al-Bashir of Sudan, Mrs. Suha Arafat, Wife of President Yasser Arafat of Palestine, Mrs. Ghazali Anbar Darwish, Wife of the President of The Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros, Leaders and Members of the Delegations participating in the Forum and a number of Sheikhas. Later Sheikha Fatima made a tour of "Al Jawhara hall” at the Women Union's headquarters, which displays the prizes, awards and appreciation certificates received by Sheikha Fatima from various local, Arab and International humanitarian and social bodies and institutions.

The inaugural ceremony of the forum began after the tour with the national anthem and reading of verses of the Holy Quran, followed by the speech of Sheikha Fatima, in which she re-iterated that the UAE had exerted every effort to provide work opportunities for women in various aspects of life, especially the media, thanks to the wise leadership of President H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Sheikha Fatima said that the number of women working in different media establishments, be it journalism, radio or television, had increased noticeably in the UAE. The Speech was read on her behalf by Dr. Hessa Lootah, chairwoman of the Forum's Media Committee.

The following is the full text of Sheikha Fatima's speech:

"Your Excellency Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, Wife of his Excellency, President Mohammed Husni Mubarak, Your Royal Highness Princess Lalla Hasnaa, Sister of His Royal Highness King Mohammed the Sixth of Morocco, Your Excellency Mrs. Fatima Khaled, Wife of His Excellency President Omar Hasan Al-Bashir of Sudan, Your Excellency Mrs. Suha Arafat, Wife of His Excellency President Yasser Arafat, Your Excellency Mrs. Ghazali Anbar Darwish, Wife of His Excellency President of The Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros, Honoured Leaders and Members of the Delegations participating in the Arab Women Media Forum Distinguished Guests... "On behalf of the United Arab Emirates' General Women's Union, I am delighted to welcome our honoured guests. I welcome the members of the women's organisations from our fellow Arab Countries and the representatives of the regional and international organisations that have come to participate in "The Arab Women Media Forum.” This Forum arises out of a decision taken by the First Arab Women's Summit, and we are pleased to be hosting it. "Thanks to the wise directions of His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may God protect him), the UAE has made every effort to provide work opportunities for women in various aspects of life. One such aspect is the media. The media in the UAE has developed in such a modern manner that it has become one of the leaders in the sector at both the Arab and the international level. Not far behind is the presence of the women of the Emirates in this field. In the last year, the number of women working in the different media establishments, be it journalism, radio or television, has increased noticeably in the UAE.

"Your participation in this great assembly is clear evidence of the anxiousness in the Arab countries, at both the official and social levels, to achieve women's participation in media work. This forum, like other women-related forums, is the result of "The First Summit for the Arab Woman,” held in Cairo in October 2000. Such events are the best indication as to how involved and interested the First Ladies of the Arab countries are. They are committed to help women advance through the media sector, especially in light of the communication, information and cultural globalisation revolution. "We realise the magnitude of the cultural and intellectual challenge that our Arab and Islamic nations face. It is because of this challenge that our nations need to crystallise the appropriate tools to enhance the dissemination of their cultural message among the nations. They can accomplish that by utilising all the resources available, starting with the principles of forgiveness, equality and successful communication. "Therefore, we hope that the discussions that will take place in the various symposium sessions will encourage the social and media establishments to put more effort into achieving in reality the vital role of women and their participation in the various media fields. The woman's involvement is sure to benefit her and, ultimately, her society. On a local note, we hope that by the end of the forum, the plan for the Abu Dhabi Media project will have been finalised and assigned by "the Second Summit for the Arab Woman.” "Finally, I should express my gratitude and appreciation to The Woman's National Council in The Arab Republic of Egypt, the General Secretary of the Arab League and The Hariri Foundation in Lebanon for their enormous efforts in the rendering this assembly a success.”

Sheikha Fatima's speech was followed by Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak's speech. The following is the full text of Suzanne Mubarak's speech:

"In the Name of God the Merciful the Compassionate Your Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Wife of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan President of The United Arab Emirates "Your Royal Highnesses and Excellences Honourable guests "On this important occasion, I am delighted to begin by expressing how much the leaders and the people of Egypt appreciate the pioneering efforts of our fellow country the United Arab Emirates. Under the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may God protect him), and with the full sponsorship and attention of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, President of the General Women's Union in the UAE, these efforts aim to elevate the status of women both in the Emirates and the Arab world equally. "Furthermore, I would like to congratulate every Arab woman in all Arab regions on her Special Day, hoping to see further positive accomplishments. I also wish for her to double her efforts in facing the increasing internal and external challenges at all levels. "With the celebration of 'Arab Woman Day' in the United Arab Emirates coinciding with "The Arab Women Media Forum,” the UAE's commitment to uplift the woman in various fields is verified. The driving force behind all this is the complete faith of H. H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak to the woman's cause and in the vital role that the media in the Arab world should play. That role is simply to project the woman's image in the Arab media as a bright front reflecting her efforts in raising her status and enhancing her much deserved role and situation at home. The true Arab values and the dreams of promising development are the bonds that bring us together in "The Arab Women Media Forum.” A strong desire drives us to better the reality of the Arab woman at all levels and to transform her into a creative power working side by side with man to realise the hopes of a bright future. "Moreover, I cherish this positive spirit that emerged from 'The Arab Woman's Summit's' decisions and was ever present throughout all the forums that followed. The result of that was the democratic communication that took place between the various participants. No one had anticipated that "The Arab Women's Summit” and its forums would be so firmly established. Within two years, the summit was held twice, regularly and exceptionally, each witnessing extremely important and serious preparative and executive work. This Summit takes credit in proposing several practical projects to enhance the solidarity between women in the Arab world, such as the idea of establishing 'The Arab woman's organization.' As part of the Arab League, we look forward to this organization's role, which we hope, by the grace of God, will have a grand and profound effect in the Arab Woman's journey. The continuous and successful work of the forums of "The Arab Women's Summit” is additional proof of the sound vision that we hold together. We have now, a national unique work agenda to enhance and guide the woman's movement. This increases our hope to take further leaps forward. This accomplishment, however, did not come out of nowhere. It has faithfully reflected the noticeable development that the Arab woman has accomplished in the past two decades.

"The various Arab countries have realised grand and tangible accomplishments on the road to development and luxury. The Arab woman's contribution to this development has helped to push the wheel forward. Seeking her rights and ensuring her place were in harmony with her efforts to develop the various aspects of life around her. "On her journey towards development, the Arab woman has reached many of her goals and earned many of her rights. Her effective contribution is evident in the fields of education, culture and the Media. She has reached very high ranks in all levels of national and patriotic work, and has earned a global existence worthy of her human role. "Our modern life bears witness to her tangible accomplishments especially in placing the legislative and establishing foundations to ensure that she acquires her full and fair rights.

The Arab woman has opened the doors to positively participate in the political, economic and social life. Hence, we now see her among the brilliant creators in fields thought previously to be out of her league, especially in areas like sciences, arts and literature. We have witnessed enormous indications to her participation in creative writing, intellectual and scientific work. Arab women have succeeded in invading the political, diplomatic and judicial fields as well.

"On the occasion of "the Arab Women Media Forum,” we must ask ourselves: does the media in the Arab world reflect the positive reality of the Arab woman's accomplishments and does it follow her various developments? "There is no doubt that the media must be responsible in portraying what the Arab woman has accomplished and the challenges that she aims to face in a world that changes and moves rapidly. That responsibility springs out of the role that media should play in establishing a social, cultural and political awareness for the men and women of the society. Furthermore, the media must steer this awareness towards the horizon of desired development and must change the engraved negative images of habits and traditions.

"Dear Sisters If we pause at the Arab World's strategy and the role that it should aim for, we find that this strategy must first involve the Arab family which is living in different times now. This fact is due to the availability of the satellites and the international channels that have removed the barriers among Arab countries and the whole world like never before. "This new media strategy must not merely enhance the woman's image, give her more air time, or allow her to briefly present her causes and rights. It must be based on a principle that we all agree to. That principle should be that women have a powerful creative effect in building the desired developed society.

Furthermore, she is the one most capable of understanding and relating to the matters of education which is the building block of our future generations. "How is it possible for the Arab media to embody the meaning of development and the value of progress in a manner that influences our decisions without the active presence of women? The woman must participate in placing the media strategy and in framing decisions and providing the largest area possible in informative media in all its shapes and forms.

"Dear Sisters; The social role of the media is the foundation for all development plans in all aspects. Making more room for family issues and their constructive interactions with the changing times is an unbreakable part of the involvement of media in developing progress plans. Aiming for fast development is just as important as reassuring the roots of our cultural principles and engraving our Arab values with regard to the positive image of the woman. "All this has become inevitable in facing the western globalisation that has invaded our lives due to open airwaves, placing us in front of challenges that are not to be belittled or underestimated. "These challenges can only be met by altering our media strategies and working on a new image for the productive Arab woman, a woman receptive to media work.

The promising image must replace the negative image that still lingers in our minds. " The reality is that correcting the woman's image in the Arab media is the first and logical step in correcting it in the western and world media. For it is no longer required that we correct the woman's image or the Arab persona only, but also the Islamic and Arab culture's image that has been greatly distorted in the world media lately. "We want an Arab media that portrays our values, our true Arab principles as well as our developed principles reflecting our great past, hopeful present and promising future. We want a media where the Arab woman participates in framing its shape and determining its tasks and directing its messages. Therefore, we need to put forth a new drastic visualisation of Arab media. This visualisation must be imposed by the positively changing reality of the Arab woman and the fast changes of the globalisation challenge which has set an unprecedented media reality.

To do all that, we need to double our efforts within strong, powerful and up to date establishments and strategies that are aware of internal and external developments as well as advanced technology. "Dear Sisters Our changing world demands that we review much of our ideas, priorities and givens. If fate has placed us in front of the world challenges, then let's rise to the occasion and learn the courage of facing ourselves. Let us take the present as a starting point and aim for a better future armed with our faith in our just causes, humane demands and our dream of limitless progress. We do this in a world flooded with forgiveness, and enriched with peace based on equality, a world that would be surely thrilled to see a more perfect, more beautiful and more developed image of the woman in our media. We hope that this media is a powerful tool in our progress, pushing us higher up the mountain to reach the peak of human development. "It does not escape me on this day to send out a salute of appreciation to the fighting Palestinian woman in her ordeal. There is no better occasion for the Arab woman to express her support to her Palestinian sister who is offering the highest sacrifices in order to reclaim her right and liberate her land.

"Once again I express my salutations to H. H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the fellow UAE, and my appreciation to H. H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, President of the General Women's Union for sponsoring this forum which is a true addition to the journey of development and progress. "We are all aware of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima's role as a pioneer in women's work in the Gulf. A fair person can see her enormous efforts through the accomplishments of the Emirates woman. We must salute her great role; her honest cooperation and her generosity, which made us, feel at home and with family. "May God render us successful, guide our steps and fulfil our hopes, "Peace be with you and God's Mercy and his Blessings.”

Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak's speech was followed by the speech of Amr Mousa, the Arab League Secretary General. The following is the full text of Mousa given on his behalf by Mrs. Azza Al Otaifi:

"In the Name of God the Merciful the Compassionate Your Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of his Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, President of The General Women's Union of the United Arab Emirates, Your Highnesses and Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Peace be with you and God's Mercy and his Blessings It is an honour to be part of "The Arab Women Media Forum" being held in the United Arab Emirates under the patronage and leadership of her Highness President of the General Women's Union. This is a very important event that debates the causes and opinions of the woman's image in the various media fields.

Its ultimate goal is to crystallize a number of recommendations and suggestions to verify the vital role of the Arab woman. Last night we witnessed how Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak honoured the pioneers in woman's works in the Arab Nations. By doing that, her Highness verifies the values of honour and gratitude as well as cherishing the Arab woman's role in the nation's development and progress. "At this point, I am delighted to bring to you the greetings of his Excellency Mr. Amr Mousa, Secretary General of the Arab league and his wishes for a successful "Arab Women Media Forum". Ladies and Gentlemen "This forum comes to complete the previous forums assigned by the "First Summit of the Arab Woman" held in Cairo, on the 18th through the 20th of November 2000, under the patronage of her Excellency Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, wife of his Excellency President Mohamed Husni Mubarak.

I take this opportunity to commend her tireless and continuous leading efforts along with the efforts of the wives of our Arab nation's Leaders. These efforts resulted in establishing "The Arab Woman's Organization" which is so vital in enhancing the woman's role in the economic, social and human development. It does not escape me to extend my appreciation of and gratitude to the organizing authorities that spared no effort in this creative work. I, of course, refer to the Arab League, The National Woman's Council in the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the Hariri Foundation.

Moreover we look forward to having the project of establishing The Arab Woman's Organisation assigned by The Economic and Social Council in their coming monthly meeting. Ladies and Gentlemen, "This Summit coincides with various critical and extremely dangerous international and regional circumstances. It also comes at a time where the Arab woman who is struggling side by side with the man to face this hate filled attack on the Arab and Islamic culture and civilization. This situation demands that we all deal with this attack consciously and with awareness. The national and combined Arab media must take its vital role in reasonably addressing the western media and portraying the importance of communication of cultures and civilizations. It must show how these different media can complete each other and how co-operation and rapprochement are the key ingredients in the communication process.

However, we must be aware not to fall in the trap of the attempts to rekindle the war between the cultures and civilizations. We must make it clear that Islam is far from bigotry, barbarianism and terrorism. Furthermore, we should point out how the western world adopted much of its culture from the Islamic civilization. For instance, the city of Granada in Al-Andalus had interpreted and developed the old knowledge and wisdom in all aspects and added to it its own vital contribution in the various fields of human knowledge such as the Arts, Mathematics, Law, History and Medicine. "Knowledge aids both the East and the West to understand each other, it brings people closer.

Moreover, communication and mutual understanding among the cultures and civilizations will ensure security and peace in the world. "Our Arab nation, with its deep-rooted values and sublime principles has contributed since the dawn of history till the present day in bringing cultures closer. It has never sought struggle, violence or international terrorism. Furthermore, the Arab woman has played a very influential role in grounding the noble values and principles that believe in the culture of peace. She has always worked in disseminating them in her societies and regions.

Along those lines, the media must enhance and project the true and honest image of the woman whether directly or indirectly. "We request that our Arab Media corrects the wrongfully projected Islamic principles, it must also show the terrorism that Israel is acting on the Palestinian people. Moreover, it should show that the Palestinian people's resistance to the occupation and hostility is a justfull right. It is a right supported by all the heavenly religions and verified by the resolutions of the international law.

Furthermore, it must show that Israel's attempts to force the Palestinians to surrender and yield to the Israeli peace over Palestine will never accomplish the security and stability that Israel proclaims. "By saluting the Palestinian woman's mighty resistance to the unjust Israeli practices, we verify that we stand by her completely and we support her struggle until the day that Palestine stands as a sovereign and independent nation with Jerusalem as its capital. "The developments and changes that go on around us require the Arab woman to have an influential voice calling out for justice, peace and stability...A voice that supports our just claims especially the halt of the brutal Israeli practices, and ensuring an international monitoring power to protect the Palestinian people from the assassination plots and the attempts to burry the just Arab cause. "With its motto being "Towards an Interactive Media Space", we wish for "The Arab Woman Media Forum" to fulfil all what our Arab nation desires for the role of the Arab media. A role that should have a valuable effect in the world of satellites, advanced technology, and information revolution.

We hope this forum will agree on the framing of a media project for the Arab woman that helps produce a positive image of the Arab woman replacing the old negative stereotype. We hope it will focus on setting the woman's role and her positive and effective participation in building her community and her Arab Nation. May this project be presented at the next Arab Woman's Summit to be assigned. Your Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Your Highnesses and Excellencies, "Once again, I express my gratitude and appreciation for your kind hospitality and fine organization and I wish for this forum to end in the same gracious manner.

"I take this opportunity to extend my most honest greetings and best wishes to his Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, President of the UAE, may God prolong his life and give him health and happiness. I thank the people of the United Arab Emirates for their warm reception and welcoming. "We ask God to make our efforts successful in bettering and developing of our Arab nation. "Peace be with you and God's Mercy and his Blessings.” After the speech of Amr Mousa, a documentary programme, produced by the Emirates Media Incorporated, on the situation of women in media was displayed. The programme included interviews with leading women journalists. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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