Salalah: A two-day virtual international conference on ‘Communication Studies’ commenced at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences (UTAS) in Salalah on Tuesday. Inaugurating the conference titled ‘1st UTAS International Conference on Communication Studies: Media, Communication and Culture’ Dr Said Jaboob, mentioned in the deanship’s message, “The conference has been organised in accordance with the national priorities of developing and nurturing human capital to promote the scientific spirit and ignite innovation and inquiry.”
He further added that the conference objectives were derived from the Oman’s 2040 vision framework and alongside portrayed and promoted the core research aspirations of UTAS.
In her keynote address, Dr Ilhem Allagui of North Western University in Qatar, pointed out that the COVID-19 has tremendously changed the media landscape. Dr Allagui, an internationally renowned scholar in communication studies, brought in many interesting observations as she discussed the increase in digital literacy as an impact of COVID-19, growth in online advertising, and intensified and accelerated media consumption.
“In addition to the fragmentation of audience and the market, there also exists a fragmentation between the haves and have nots,” she reflected.
In her explanation for the emergence of creative opportunities, she said the new media was replacing the traditional mass media as a favorite choice of advertisers.
A total of 11 papers were presented by international participants from Oman, Qatar and India in three sessions that discussed the distinct themes of ‘New media and society’, ‘Mass communication’, and ‘Organisational communication’.
The first session was chaired by Dr Nawal M Salaheldin, Head of the Department of Mass Communication in UTAS Salalah.
‘The use of e-commerce and social commerce in emerging markets : Omani female millennials’ perspectives’; Exploring cyberbullying in Instagram among young users in the Sultanate of Oman: A case study’; ‘The role of using social media platforms by public schools in Oman’; ‘News media and public health: Twitter as a channel for public health emergency communication’; were some titles of the papers presented in the first session.
During the other sessions, one of the presenters from Northwestern University in Qatar explored the influence of US education in selecting TV programme content by young Qatari students, on the other hand examining the role of different mass media in the dissemination of weather forecast information and its effects was an interesting topic of research.
The pattern of film consumption and the factors affecting the patterns, an influence of popular culture on young Omani consumers in Oman were some interesting and not much-explored topics which gave the audience some very insightful information and food for thought.
In addition to the scholars from various Omani higher education institutions, the conference was also attended by participants from Qatar and India. The role of social capital in demystifying workplace bullying and psychological capital for combating workplace isolation were some topics that were thoughts out of the box.
The overall conference sessions were coordinated by Dr Arafat Aal Jamil, Head of the Scientific Committee of the conference.