Maitha Buhumaid Director of Dubai Press Club discusses the UAE’s media industry and how it has developed over the past 50 years
Since it was formed in 1999 The Dubai Press Club has had the vision of supporting promoting and developing regional media through raising awareness, organising gatherings and events and supporting those working in the industry. Heading up the Club is Director Maitha Buhumaid. Buhumaid has worked for almost two decades in major government entities focusing on media, strategic marketing, branding and corporate communication. She is an advocate for women’s empowerment and brings together her skills in media and marketing with her business background to help pave the way for the industry in the future. Here we discover more about Dubai Press Club and what Buhumaid still hopes to achieve with the organisation.
Tell us a little about the Dubai Press Club and what is the goal?
Established in 1999, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, DPC has launched several initiatives to foster industry excellence and dialogue. Its major initiatives are the Arab Media Forum (AMF), the region’s largest media gathering; the Arab Journalism Award (AJA); the Emirati Media Forum (EMF); the Arab Social Media Influencers Summit (ASMIS); and the annual Arab Media Outlook, an extensive reference on the region’s media. DPC also hosts and organises workshops and seminars regularly on issues affecting regional and international socio-political scenarios, as well as strategic communication, business, economy, education and technology.
What does a working day look like to you?
My typical working day includes several meetings with the DPC team to follow up on the implementation of upcoming events, initiatives and media activities that are aimed at accelerating the development of the media sector in the region. Our day also involves meeting with prominent media figures, representatives from international media organisations and thought leaders to discuss potential partnerships that are aligned with the Club’s strategic objectives to promote knowledge exchange.
The Dubai Press Club constantly explores new innovative projects and initiatives as part of our efforts to realise the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for DPC to meet the future requirements of the sector and nurture talent in the industry. In my role, I steer many creative brainstorming exercises with the DPC team and other stakeholders to generate new ideas to deliver our objectives.
The past 18 months have been strange for all what is a lesson you have learnt from this time?
If there’s something we’ve learnt during the last 18 months is that obstacles and challenges are not permanent. We have learned to cope with change and find new ways to approach any situation whether on a personal or professional level.
How would you access the media industry in the UAE today?
Over the last few years, the media industry in the UAE has placed the highest priority on development in order to keep pace with the changes happening in the industry globally. Media outlets in the UAE have understood the importance of embracing digital developments in the field and finding innovative approaches to reach wider segments of the community in order to remain competitive. As an important partner in the nation’s development, the UAE media continues to play a vital role in highlighting the country’s achievements and supporting the country in realising its future ambitions.
What are your thoughts on how social media and the digital world has impacted the way we experience news?
Social media and the digital world have revolutionised communications and the way we consume news on a daily basis. People now have all the information they need at the touch of an app and can even experience live events before the news is prepared and packaged for distribution. However, with this kind of access to information comes the risk of fake news, which is why the media need to constantly be vigilant in monitoring the online world to debunk fake news and share credible content.
Tell us about the Emirati Media Forum and what importance that has in the media community?
The Emirati Media Forum is one of DPC’s major initiatives. It takes place annually with the participation of key media personalities, heads of UAE media institutions, managing editors, editors-in-chief of local newspapers and prominent writers, thinkers, intellectuals and academics. The Forum serves as a unique platform for dialogue on the local media landscape, the impact of recent global developments on the sector and the future of the industry.
The Forum has helped to objectively analyse the state of the local media and the opportunities and challenges it faces. Through the Forum, the local media sector has been able to address its gaps and generate new solutions that support its accelerated advancement.
What in your opinion are the benefits of having an organisation like the Dubai Press Club?
As one of the most active press clubs in the region, the Dubai Press Club has contributed to the development of the region’s media in numerous ways. As part of constantly promoting dialogue and knowledge exchange for shaping a better industry, we seek to bring professionals together to discuss the current state and future of the sector. DPC’s events and training programmes have provided media professionals with networking opportunities, the chance to exchange knowledge and hone their skills, all of which have contributed to promoting media excellence in the region.
To you what is a source of media that you still believe in?
I believe that any form of media can achieve impact regardless of the medium. What defines good content is the creativity of its presentation and the authenticity of the information.
This month we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the UAE, what does this occasion mean to you?
The 50th anniversary of the UAE is a historic moment and a milestone for the country. It’s an occasion to reflect on half a century of notable achievements and the UAE’s remarkable progress across several areas, which has enabled the country to cement its leading position in various fields both regionally and internationally. As we proudly look back at our achievements, the occasion also gives us a chance to think of new ways to expand the horizons of development and shape a glorious future for our nation.
What is a message that you would send to your country on this occasion?
In the last 50 years, the country has proven that nothing here is impossible and that challenges will not stop us from moving forward. For every Emirati, the country’s 50th anniversary is a moment of pride that allows us to look back and appreciate what the country has been able to achieve. We are extremely optimistic about the future as the country continues to strengthen its global stature in diverse spheres of life and sectors.
What is your fondest memory of the UAE from your childhood?
I have fond memories of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who will always be an icon of wisdom, goodness and giving. From a young age, I have memories of how his leadership and vision evoked great feelings of pride among us. I will also always remember how Sheikh Zayed created an environment for women to achieve progress in all fields. He personally directed initiatives to enhance women’s development based on his belief that women’s empowerment was crucial to the nation’s development.
Where would you like to see the UAE in another 50 years?
I would like to see the UAE at the forefront of nations, leading innovation across all sectors including economy, space, media, and advanced technologies. The UAE leadership has already developed a clear vision for the next 50 years to foster a new phase of growth for the UAE and we are prepared to support the country on its journey to the future.
Who or what inspires you the most?
Among living personalities, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is a figure who continues to inspire me the most because he is a person with a vision who is always focused on progress. Leading by example, he believes in using challenges as an opportunity for transformation and new achievements. His Highness’s vision was instrumental in the growth and development of the Dubai Press Club into the flourishing institution it is today. DPC was established more than 20 years ago to create a platform for advancing the development of the media not only in the UAE but also across the region. His media initiatives have given the region’s media industry new hope to aspire for and achieve global excellence and capabilities.
What is a professional motto that you live by?
“The race for excellence has no finish line.” This was something that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has said before and it continues to inspire me to work harder and achieve greater excellence in what I do.
What is in the pipeline for you for 2022?
As part of our efforts to help realise the UAE’s vision for the future, we will continue to work on developing programmes and initiatives to support the growth and development of the media in the region so that it can play a greater role in the Arab world’s progress. We have an exciting line-up of events scheduled for 2022, key among them are the Arab Media Forum and the Emirati Media Forum as well as various training sessions for the media professionals in collaboration with leading media organisations, which we will be announcing at a later stage.