Princess Haya opens Arab Media Forum with plea for press freedom

DUBAI // Journalists, many of whom risk their lives to bring crucial news to the world, must be allowed the freedom to report the truth, said Princess Haya of Jordan as she opened the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on Tuesday.

Princess Haya urged the Arab World to remove obstacles so that media could reflect the true image of society, and called for the drafting of a “Charter for the Arab Media”. In turn, the media must realise that no one was above the law, and that truth should always be the objective when reporting.

Also the UN’s Messenger of Peace and Chairwoman of International Humanitarian City, she said positives in society should be highlighted to balance reports of turmoil in the region.

“The idea of tolerance and respect for mankind regardless of race, colour, creed or religion came from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid [Vice President and Ruler of Dubai], who created two new ministries in the UAE – one for tolerance and one for happiness,” she said.

“It is an unprecedented step and provoked others to follow the example of the UAE. Praise for Sheikh Mohammed is endless.”

The Vice President was also lauded as a “pioneer in the world of social media”, using it to speak to citizens and residents and showing the true meaning of communication.

The Princess gave examples of him visiting a shopping centre without guards, fixing a woman’s broken-down car and reading stories to orphans.

“Social media brings us these great stories,” she said.

Princess Haya also told of a teacher posting the story of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, comforting a small girl child he found crying outside her school.

“He got out of his car, went to her and offered to drop her home as her father was late. But she said no as her parents had told her not to go with strangers.

“He sat on the pavement with her until her father came.”

The theme of this year’s forum is “Media for Good”, and Princess Haya acknowledged the media’s efforts to distance Islam from extremism.

But she questioned whether western media was always accurate and said humanitarian acts carried out by Arab countries were often overlooked.


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