American University of Sharjah students made their mark at the Arab Broadcast Forum session about "reaching the Arab Youth on the Street.” LBC TV broadcast the debate hosted by the popular TV personality Shada Omar. It was agreed that new media has successfully reached Arab youth, while traditional media’s share of the youth market is declining.
An issue that has long been pondered is how to engage young viewers: are youth concerned with the current events? Are young people in Kuwait, for example, concerned about what’s happening in Lebanon? A group of us “youth” sat and listened as the panel wondered if we would rather be watching shows that deal with serious issues like unemployment and drug abuse or entertainment programs like Star Academy.
Amr Khaled, an Egyptian Televangelist, who insisted he isn’t a “media expert,” simply said that the youth are the most important viewers. If broadcasters want to reach the the youth they'll have to engage them with better programming.
AUS student Nasreen Abdulla asked the panel why there was such a gap between the youth and media companies. The main problem, according to most of the media experts present like Octavia Nasr, senior editor for Arab Affairs, CNN, is that youth are not represented on Arab media. Mohammed Yehia, interactivity editor, BBC Arabic website suggested that the youth make up the majority of the Arabic population. Therefore, they should be better represented and encouraged to get involved in current issues.
The panel closed with a poignant and political comment on the struggle Arab youth face to freely express themselves in the media. The comment from AUS student Ibrahim Haj Hamad recieved a hearty round of applause from from the audience and LBC TV's Shada Omar .