New media law in the offing too, Dr Abdullah Al Harassi revealed
MUSCAT —Dr Abdullah Nasser Al Harrasi, minister of information, has said that Oman’s media serves as a “true mirror” and gives out “honest messages” about the happenings in Oman to the world.
He mentioned this in a recent interview with Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (*) newspaper, according to the Oman News Agency (ONA).
Dr Abdullah said that the Omani media contributed to the creation of community awareness and enlightenment, as well as the preservation of Omani identity’s civilisational and human dimensions.
New media law in the offing
The information minister also noted that the ministry of information (MoI) was in the process of a new draft law for the media. “Once the draft becomes law, it will constitute a valid legal reference and a solid ground for the Omani media,” he noted.
Fostered national morale
The minister pointed out that Omani media fostered a national morale that consolidated the march of progress and prosperity and brought about change in all aspects of life. The media in Oman, Dr Abdullah disseminated a message of inspiration and it kept being a source for knowledge and an objective instrument of shaping Omani character, its traits and civilized role over the ages.
This was highly significant as Oman extended bridges of fraternity and friendship with all countries and peoples of the world in line with a balanced policy, away from all forms of extremism and exaggeration, the minister observed.
The minister added that “the media track” in Oman Vision 2040 is fundamental. Since the National Conference for the vision, whose objectives were formulated under the supervision of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, the media embarked on live relay of the conference’s dialogue sessions and played an effective role in motivating the acceleration of executive programmes aimed to find prompt and sustainable solutions for priority lanes that spearheaded the whole process—like fiscal balance, economic diversification and foreign investments attraction.”
The minister noted that Omani media undertook an interactive role amid exceptional global conditions, including the emergence of Coronavirus, the sharp collapse in oil prices and global political crises that pervaded all countries of the world in various ways.
Omani media conveyed work plans, programmes and solutions envisaged by the government. This is done through dialogue sessions bringing together decision makers, analysts, experts, academics and specialists—with the prime aim of following up the performance of target sectors of growth. For this purpose, the media has also established a permanent communication channel with the Oman Vision 2040 Implementation Follow-up Unit.
National, humanitarian message
“Omani media has a national and humanitarian message and it is utilizing its authentic and open experience with others in a positive way by reporting the facts with full transparency, professionalism and responsibility,” said Dr Abdullah. As a result, Omani society developed great confidence in its media and the message it undertakes to achieve, he stressed.
Freedom and responsibility – two sides of the same coin
The minister opined that freedom and responsibility are two inseparable concepts. “Professionalism constitutes a life jacket for responsible media freedom. An observer of Omani media finds that there is wide scope for all to comment on various topics of interest to society through a media approach that allows all opinions to contribute towards addressing common problems without defamation or unnecessary instigation of sentiments,” Dr Abdullah added.
The minister described investment in the broadcasting sector as “good”.
He referred to endeavours to introduce private sector investment in the visual media industry (TV channels), noting that these attempts received the green light from the government. He indicated that the private sector was interested to invest in the field of electronic media and was awarded a number of licenses for establishing electronic platforms, broadcasting and electronic visual channels.
Dr Abdullah underscored the importance of the role of the Omani media in highlighting investment and tourism in Oman, since these comprise basic features of Oman Vision 2040.
“We are currently focusing on the economic media that supports these tracks, and we support the role of the authorities related to economic development to disseminate sufficient information about Oman,” said Dr Abdullah.
The minister pointed out that there are specialised programmes in various media fields with an interactive dialogue nature that embodies and underlines this role. The programmes receive the attention of followers from within the Sultanate of Oman and outside it, with emphasis on ‘economic diplomacy, as well as following up projects, agreements and memoranda of understanding between Oman and external partners.
Speaking about the tourism aspect, the minister referred to the existence of media programmes dedicated to this purpose with the aim of activating tourism in various seasons and monitoring relevant news in all media.
“Oman TV’s daily business news bulletin constitutes an important window for introducing the Omani economy to the world,” said the minister, noting that various opportunities are abundant. He spoke about Omani laws that regulate foreign investment and facilitate the mission of investors.
The MoI has also taken a step towards raising the efficiency and performance of external media, encouraging it to serve the goals of Oman Vision 2040. “We receive journalists and media professionals from different countries of the world who visit Oman and report their findings about the country, its society, its nature and development projects, in addition to the promising investment opportunities available in different sectors,” said Dr Abdullah.
New draft law
At the conclusion of his statement, the minister said that, during the past period, the MoI embarked on preparing a new draft law for the media, due to new developments introduced by technologies and the need to make the media system more comprehensive in its response to contemporary changes. The draft, once it becomes law, will constitute a valid legal reference and a solid ground for the Omani media, he said.
(*) Asharq Al-Awsat is an Arabic international newspaper headquartered in London. A pioneer of the “off-shore” model in the Arabic press, the paper is often noted for its distinctive green-tinted pages. The New York Times in 2005 called Asharq Al-Awsat “one of the oldest and most influential in the region” (Wikipedia).