POISED FOR PUBLICATION

Qatar 2019 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Remaining fair and balanced has become a far greater challenge in the regional media landscape, but is even more urgent than ever.

BIOGRAPHY
With over 12 years of cross-functional experience in management and media organizations, Abdul Rahman Al Qahtani is chief executive at Qatar Information & Marketing, the publisher of Al Watan, Qatar Tribune, and many other national publications. He works to develop and execute the company’s short and long-term strategies in alignment with stakeholder goals by supervising the marketing and circulation of newspapers and leading editorial and publishing decisions.

Since its inception in 2006, what have been some of the major contributions of Qatar Tribune to the media sector?

Qatar Tribune has been a significant player in advancing the role of free media in Qatar and the region with its sharp, balanced, and objective reporting. Since its inception, it has focused on providing an edge to reporting and writing about issues that concern both local communities and the broader nation. Effectively, it has played its desired mediating role in strengthening the key institutions for a free and vibrant society. Qatar is on the right track to becoming a knowledge-based society, and Qatar Tribune is contributing to help achieve Qatar National Vision 2030. The paper adheres to the time-tested norms, laws, and media ethics of journalism. Objectivity and accuracy are sine qua non of journalism, and it is in our DNA to follow the profession's established canons. On the micro level, Qatar Tribune has contributed to refining the genres of print journalism. For instance, it was the first newspaper in the country to print separate sections on national affairs, sports, business, and entertainment. Second, we were the first media outlet to publish special pages focused on different communities. On each day of the week, a full-page is devoted to one specific expat community, while another is reserved for highlighting Qatari traditions, culture, and way of life. This has undoubtedly brought communities together.

What is your strategy for capitalizing on the increasing level of online penetration in Qatar?

Consumption of news and information from online sources has increased in the last couple of years. Qatar has one of the highest internet penetration levels in the world. Accordingly, Qatar Tribune has a strategy in place to adapt to this environment. At the same time, traditional news sources such as print are still viable and will remain so for a long time. We have a substantial online presence and are keen to press ahead with ideal and desirable convergence of print and digital. We are the first Qatari newspaper to have native mobile apps and e-papers to promote our digital presence. We are also present on all social media platforms and are always looking for ways to improve and engage with users. Qatar's media sector is dynamic and evolving and has adapted well to recent digital trends.

How do you keep the business community well informed?

We have a strong business team working to keep readers informed about developments in the economy and business world. The Qatari economy has been firing on all cylinders since the blockade was imposed, and we report down to the minutest of detail on both micro and macroeconomic developments taking place in various sectors of the economy.

With the blockade, Qatari newspapers were blocked in the UAE. How did you cope with this situation, and how would you assess the response on the Qatari side to this action?

The media sector in Qatar has not been affected by what neighboring countries have done or how the media in those countries have reported the issue. We have exposed the blockading countries' duplicity and hypocrisy while maintaining decorum and dignity. The entire world is witness to the fact that Qatar's leadership, people, and media have maintained equanimity and calm in response to extreme provocation.

What is your outlook for the year ahead?

We are confident about the year ahead and the future in general. International media outlets have acknowledged that Qatar not only weathered the blockade but has come out stronger than before. There is total unanimity within the global community that the neighboring countries shot themselves in the foot by declaring a blockade on Qatar. One of the most positive outcomes of the blockade has been the Qatari government's determination to achieve self-sufficiency in various sectors of the economy.