SHARJAH, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / WAM – 24th Aug, 2021) Mohammed Jalal Al Rayssi, Director-General of the Emirates News Agency (WAM) and Chairman of the Sharjah Government Communication Award (SGCA) Jury Committee, said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic catalysed the advancement of communication between government communication teams and the media, forming a strong alliance to combat the pandemic.
The significant cooperation demonstrated by national institutions through media briefings on the pandemic enabled media outlets to the swift delivery of credible information to the public, he added.
He made this statement at a meeting of the SGCA Jury Committee, which will announce the winners of its eighth edition on the second day of the tenth edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), to be held on 26th and 27th September at the Expo Centre Sharjah under the theme “Historic lessons, Future ambitions”. The event is organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB).
During the meeting, Al Rayssi explained that the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to view government communications and media in a different light, with the rise of new challenges, which required faster response and a need to deliver information in different languages.
“During the pandemic, we noticed the circulation of many rumours. Therefore, the main challenge was the need to swiftly deliver correct and credible information, which was made easier through the utilisation of social media, enabling media outlets to effectively address this global challenge,” Al Rayssi said.
“Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the public used to get their information from any source. However, the pandemic triggered a growing awareness among the public of the importance of seeking accurate and credible news, inspire them to follow professional and credible journalism. Audiences are now seeking reputable media outlets for credible and accurate news, further supporting the efforts of concerned authorities to manage the pandemic” he added.
Al Rayssi also affirmed that fake news should be nipped in the bud, stating, “Through our work, we noticed that rumours resurface after years and years if not dealt with, which is the case during the pandemic. Hearsay will continue to circulate in the community and will resurface if the media and official authorities do not interfere and broadcast correct and accurate news.”
Crises force countries to develop and modernise defence systems to contain them, he added, noting the UAE had already established strong foundations for addressing and managing crises, which helped support the public and spread awareness and accurate information, while educating them on how to deal with rumours by adopting a flexible corporate communication strategy in collaboration with the media.
On the importance of the ‘Do Not Worry’ campaign, Al Rayssi said that this statement, which was made by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, significantly helped assure citizens and residents that the country is well equipped to contain the pandemic.
“The campaign helped us deliver positive messages locally, regionally and even globally during the crisis, while many other countries were communicating news about deaths and other negative and depressing news to the public. This played a major role in containing the pandemic, enabling us to get to where we are now, in terms of vaccination and providing COVID-19-related aid.”
Al Rayssi said that the UAE managed to overcome a major challenge, and succeeded in uniting a community of over 200 nationalities, making them a model of cooperation and joint action, a testament to how such collaborative efforts can help overcome crises.