Qatar Media Industries Forum examines “Brand Qatar”

Leaders in publishing, digital media, public relations and advertising came together in Doha on Monday at the Qatar Media Industries Forum (QMIF), hosted by Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q), for an open discussion about the impact of the media on Qatar’s image internationally.

QMIF is a unique forum engaging decision makers across Qatar’s growing media and communications industry. The lunch-time forum featured high profile industry practitioners including Darwish Ahmed, Gulf Times Editor In Chief; Lauren McCollough, Senior Manager PR & Media at the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy; and Thembisa Fakude of the Al Jazeera Center for Studies.

The forum kicked off with a thirty minute panel discussion moderated by Dr. Everette E. Dennis, Dean and CEO of NU-Q, shifting to moderated table discussions among the event’s nearly one hundred delegates.

“QMIF reached new heights this year as a credible and open forum for taking on topics of critical importance to Qatar’s emerging media and communications industry,” said Dean Dennis. “To our knowledge this was one of the first times that the controversial media coverage affecting Qatar’s image has been publically discussed here in spite of worldwide interest and comment,” he said. “It is important for the industry to better understand how such coverage affects public opinion and what can be done about it.”

He added, “Seeing a number of Qatari leaders work alongside government and private sector officials, journalists, agencies and filmmakers to explore the challenges and opportunities in Qatar’s rapidly emerging media and communications field reaffirms QMIF’s underlying mission to engage future leaders and move our industry forward in Qatar.”

As Qatar assumes an increasingly prominent place in the international spotlight, the 2014 edition of QMIF was convened to examine the impact of the media on Qatar’s national brand and explore strategies for communicating on the global stage. The discussion, titled “Brand Qatar” detailed the historic, cultural and media context of Qatar’s international image. Panelists and delegates agreed on the urgent need for a rapid, coordinated communications response, examining innovative strategies for telling a national narrative and maintaining objectivity in the face of negative global media coverage.

“To sit back and just accept criticism is bad,” said Darwish Ahmed. “If we analyze it properly, it is something healthy. It is something that is building capacity in Doha – building knowledge in Doha.”

He added, “Branding Qatar and being in a position where we have all these activities happening in Doha is a big responsibility. Many other organization in Qatar need to participate.”

NU-Q founded the forum in 2012 as part of a wider effort to provide thought leadership, educate future media and communications leaders in Qatar and the Middle East and produce ground-breaking research on industry trends and media consumption in the region.