On October 18, leaders of major international broadcast networks met at the Dead Sea in Jordan as part of a private meeting organized by the UNAOC and the Anna Lindh Foundation under the auspices of His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The meeting focused on dialogue and social change in the Mediterranean, the changing media landscape, and the regional reform agenda in the wake of the Arab uprisings.
CEOs and representatives of leading international television and media networks relevant to the Mediterranean region came together, including CNN, BBC, France 24, TV5 Monde, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Euronews, and AP Television. The main organizers and partners also contributed to the conversation, including the Anna Lindh Foundation, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the European Broadcasting Union, and the European Union, alongside experts on social change and cross-cultural relations.
The unprecedented events which took place at the start of 2011, in particular in Tunisia and Egypt, marked a shift in perceptions of the Arab region. In a relatively short period of time, widely established stereotypes about Arab societies were challenged. In many cases, the focus of media analysis moved from what was supposedly Arab to the Arabs themselves, while the traditional view of Euro-Arab relations, based on religious identity or the pre-eminence of the Middle East conflict, gave way to a renewed interest in the social and cultural transformations taking place in Arab societies.
For institutions like the Anna Lindh Mediterranean Foundation and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, that were created in response to a growing tensions between the West and the Arab world, this shift in perceptions was of enormous significance to the mission of promoting sustainable peace and development on both shores of the Mediterranean.
Participants discussed topics such as how the changing media landscape creates or limits opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa media market; the role major international media organizations could play in building capacity of local, independent media, including trainings, co-production and exchange of journalists; social media and technologies in the current transitions; and the challenge of reporting on cultural diversity and social change in countries in democratic transition.