The Fourth Al Jazeera Forum

Al Jazeera hosts its annual forum on power, media and the Middle East.

    As the political and social landscape of the Middle East continues to become more complex in the context of a changing multi-polar world there is a need for media to better understand the realities on the ground.

    Al Jazeera’s Fourth Annual Forum will explore the dynamism behind these changes along with their impact on the region and beyond, and examine the ways in which the world of journalism can better reflect and report on these changes. 

    The 2009 Forum will build on the success of past Al Jazeera Forums to debate, discuss, and extend the discourse on the critical dynamics of the Middle East in the context of the globalized world. 

    We will host an international mix of journalists, analysts, academics, and intellectuals to help bring these issues into focus as well as leading thinkers and strategists to explore and understand the changing face of the region, its place in the global landscape, and how to report it in depth.

    Draft Agenda

    Saturday, March 14, 2009

    9:00am – 7:00pm: Registration

    1:00pm – 5:00pm: Tours

    2:00 – 4:00pm: Workshop: Building Successful Media Projects in Open Networks
    (Co-Hosted by Creative Commons - by inivitation only)

    How are traditional media industries affected by new patterns and frameworks online? Is it possible in a traditional media industries environment to embrace openness in a successful way?  This workshop session will be featuring a presentation of successful case studies built using open networks, such as the new United States Administration’s use of Creative Commons licenses and Al Jazeera's Creative Commons repository. Joichi Ito, a web 2.0 entrepreneur and one of 25 men-to-watch in the Internet scene according to Business Week, will moderate a round table discussion among media experts which will follow the presentation of the case studies.

    4:30 – 6:30pm: Workshop: Al Jazeera in the Academic Sphere
    (Co-Hosted by the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies - by invitation only)

    The Media Studies Unit of the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies offers a workshop to explore and discuss a number of scholarly and academic works on Al Jazeera. In addition to the participants, Al Jazeera senior staff are invited to take part in the discussions and keep abreast of the latest developments in the field of media studies.  In the workshop, authors, reviewers and researchers will present, review, and discuss a number of recently published works, as well as PhD Theses currently undertaken in different universities.

    Sunday, March 15, 2009 

    9:00 – 9:30am: Registration

    9:30 – 9:35am: Introduction

    9:35 – 9:45am: Welcoming Remarks by Wadah Khanfar, Director-General of the Al Jazeera Network

    9:45 – 10:15am: Keynote Speech

    10:15 – 11:45am: Session I: The Power Shift in the Middle East in the Context of History – the Arab World, Iran & Turkey

    The Middle East is witnessing historic change in its political landscape and creating headlines and debate across the global media. Political leaders and students of politics are searching for ways to understand the changing dynamics and emerging political paradigms. This change is not planned nor managed by the major power brokers of the region or international powers - the current change process is fundamentally being championed by emerging political actors along with active civil society in the region.  This session will bring together a unique selection of the world’s leading experts on emerging trends in the Arab world, Iran and Turkey, together with a number of prominent intellectuals, academics and journalists in the field to present in-depth analysis of the changing political paradigms in the region.


    • Dr Salim El Hoss - former prime minister of Lebanon
    • Hakan Fidan - deputy undersecretary, prime minister of Turkey
    • Dr Azmi Beshara - Arab author, Palestine
    • Mohammad Hossein Hashemi - director-general of the Organisation of Culture & Islamic Relations
    • Michael Hudson - professor of Arab Studies, Georgetown University and author of 'Democracy in the Arab World'

    11:45 - 12:15pm: Break

    12:15 – 1:45pm: Session II: Emergence of a Multi Polar World: New Power Players and the Reshaping of the Political Landscape

    American and European dominance of the global political arena is predicted to come to an end with the emergence of a multi polar world, where Russia, China and India, along with other regional powers will play a critical role in defining the politics of the new century. The key question is where will this take the world and the Middle East in the next stages of international relations? This session will explore the impact of the seismic shift in international politics for the coming phase of diplomacy and power politics in the Middle East and beyond.


    • Dr Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani - advisor to the president of Sudan
    • Ibrahim Kalin - director of the SETA Foundation
    • Yan Xuetong - director of the Institute of International Studies, Tsinghua Univerisity
    • Vitaly Naumkin - professor at the Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies, Moscow State University
    • Mounir Shafiq - secretary-general of the Arab Islamic Congress
    • Dr Claire Spencer - head of the Middle East programme at Chatham House

    1:45 – 3:15pm: Lunch

    3:15 – 5:00pm: Break

    5:00 – 6:30pm: Session III: Reporting from the Fragile World: Can the Global Media Reconcile with Changes in the Middle East

    Traditionally, local and international media reported the region through the prisms of state actors where the voices of disenfranchised masses and their opinions were either silenced or marginalized. In the last decade the Middle East has seen an enormous shift in political dynamism and the reality on the ground is ever changing: non-state players and civic society are reshaping the political landscape.  This session will explore the complex dynamism in the Middle East and examine the role journalism will play in the shifting political and social paradigm.


    • Seymour Hersch - award-winning journalist and staff writer at the 'New Yorker' magazine
    • Fahmi Howeidy - columnist and author
    • Seumas Milne - associate editor, 'The Guardian'
    • Tony Burman - managing director, Al Jazeera English channel
    • Joichi Ito - chief executive, Creative Commons

    6:30 – 7:30pm: Break

    7:30 – 9:30pm:  Dinner

    Monday, March 16, 2009 

    9:30 – 9:35am: Introduction

    9:35 -  11:00am: Case Study: Reporting the War on Gaza

    The war on Gaza exposed the complexity of political changes taking place in the Middle East and the consequent complexity of reporting the conflict. The war highlighted the differences among global media in terms of strategy of reporting on the war and on the political divides across the region: Al Jazeera opted for a much bolder presentation of realities of the war on the ground while most of the other media presented a sanitized picture of the war by choosing not to air the terrible images of civilian casualties.  This session will explore the challenges faced by media institutions in reporting this highly sensitive and complex war and the impact on regional power politics.


    • Robert Fisk - Middle East correspondent, 'The Independent'
    • Alain Gresh - deputy director, 'Le Monde Diplomatique'
    • Ahmed El Sheikh - editor-in-chief, Al Jazeera Satellite channel
    • Ayman Mohyeldin - Gaza correspondent, Al Jazeera English channel

    11:00 – 11:30am: Break

    11:30 – 1:00pm: Case Study: Understanding Instability in the Subcontinent: India, Pakistan & Afghanistan

    The outcome of each of the conflicts in these regions will have implications both regionally and across the globe. Afghanistan has been one of the key focal points on the “war on terror” and has become a gravitating point for disenfranchised and marginalized voices from the Arab and Muslim World. India continues to edge towards becoming another powerful player in the subcontinent.  Recent developments in nuclear-armed Pakistan signify the dangers of socio-political instability in the region and its impact globally. This session seeks to understand the conflict zones through the eyes of regional experts who are either from the region or people who have spent time in the region, as part of seeking conflict resolution.


    • Salman Haider - director of the South Asian Political Initiative
    • Mohammed Fayez Farhat - Asia specialist, Al-Ahram Centre for Political & Strategic Studies
    • Asad Durrani - Lieutenant-General, Pakistan (retired)
    • Abdul Bari Atwan - editor-in-chief, 'Al Quds Al Arabi'
    • Tayseer Allouni - Madrid bureau chief, Al Jazeera Satellite channel



    1:00 – 1:15pm: Summary and Concluding Remarks

    1:15 – 2:45pm: Lunch





    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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