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Omani-British Press Forum kicks off at University of Oxford


OXFORD: The Omani-British Press Forum opened at the University of Oxford on Tuesday. The Forum is organized by the Omani Journalists Association (OJA) in collaboration with the University of Oxford, the Omani-British Friendship Society, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and the media attaché office at the Sultanate’s embassy in London.

In his opening address, Dr Mohammed bin Mubarak al Araimi, OJA Chairman expressed his happiness for the hosting by the University of Oxford of the event pointing out that the university witnesses part of the academic cooperation between the Sultanate and the UK represented by the Sultan Qaboos Academic Chair at the University of Oxford.

The Omani-British relations which date back to the beginning of the 19th century have seen a constant development. Today these relations, under the flourishing era of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, are making a quantum leap and seeking to achieve the mutual interests of both countries specially that at this period which sees several changes and rapid developments in the Gulf region in particular and the Middle East in general, Al Araimi said.

The chairman of OJA explained that such an event adds more significance to the enlightening role undertaken by the Oman media. The Omani press is considered as one of the facets expressive of the Omani modern renaissance and the aspirations of the Omani people for peace, progress and achievements. The Omani press did not begin in 1970 but rather a 100 years ago in Zanzibar under the Omani Empire. At an earlier time there were more than one Omani newspaper such as Al Najah, Al Falaq, Al Nahda, Al Murshid the enlightening role of which has extended beyond the border of Zanzibar.

Being aware of the historical importance of the Omani press’ enlightening role in Zanzibar and East Africa since the beginning of the twentieth century, however the quantum leap of the Omani media began with the outset of the Renaissance and interacted with it expressing the aspirations of the Omani people which were embodied by His Majesty through the adoption of the principles of peace, dialogue, acceptance of others and working towards achieving rapprochement and harmony between peoples and civilizations at a time when the peoples are looking forward to peace, stability and a better life, Al Araimi said.

Dr Al Araimi explained that within this context, the Omani press and the other means of media, mostly privately owned, endeavored to reflect the values, trends and fundamentals on which the Omani policy and attitudes the based in dealing with various issues and developments on the Gulf region as well as the Arab and international levels. He affirmed that the Omani press and media means contributed to achieving the peace we are enjoying now. The Omani press has always striven to highlight the values of love and cooperation away from bias and sentimentality. This has been positively reflected on the domestic affairs and the Sultanate’s relations with other countries.

Professor Eugene Rogan, Director of the Middle East Center at St Anthony College, Oxford University said the Sultanate has played a crucial role in the Gulf region and the Middle East. The Sultanate has endeavored to strike a balance between its neighbors. It has always been a mediator between the great powers and the regional powers. He added: “We are all benefitting from the dialogue between the Omani journalists and their international fellows and the dialogue between academics and journalists. We hope that the awaited seminar will establish a link between the Oxford community and the Sultanate of Oman.”

A documentary on the development that took place in the educational, political and social aspects in all governorates of Oman, was screened afterwards. The documentary provided glimpses on the Omani people’s deep-rooted way of life.

Dr Mohammed bin Mubarak al Araimi, OJA Chairman and Professor Eugene Rogan, Director of the Middle East Center at St Anthony College, Oxford University conferred the OJA shield on a number of Omanis and British researchers.

A photo exhibition was held as part of the event that included photos of His Majesty while receiving Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and a photo of Prince Charles’ visit to the Sultanate. --ONA

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