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Former Al-Jazeera boss shares frontline experiences of the 'Arab Spring'


21 November 2012

Wadah Khanfar: "The Arab Awakening is reshaping the way people are viewing themselves and the world around them."
Wadah Khanfar: "The Arab Awakening is reshaping the way people are viewing themselves and the world around them."

Former Director General of Al-Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, will deliver his assessment of the Middle East's progress since last year's Arab Spring at the University of Sydney this Thursday 22 November in his talk 'Journalism and Political Transition in the Arab World'.

Despite continuing violence in Syria, Iran's provocative nuclear enrichment program and escalating hostilities in the Gaza strip, the former head of Al-Jazeera argues the Middle East is on track for burgeoning democracy and peace.

"The Middle East is heading towards democracy, it is a process and the region is going through a state of transformation," he said. "A new era of great debate has started; the result of which will be more democratic."

In his forthcoming public lecture, Khanfar will discuss the rise of what he dubs a "new eco-system in journalism: journalism of interactivity and depth". Drawing on his experiences from the Arab Spring, he will outline how traditional and new media can join forces to advance democracy and provoke political revolution.

During his tenure at the helm of Al-Jazeera, Khanfar witnessed firsthand the seismic shift away from tyrannical regimes through popular uprisings sparked by both Al-Jazeera and social media platforms. So influential was the network's role in the 2011 Egyptian revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak that some analysts have dubbed this the 'Al-Jazeera revolution'.

"The Arab Awakening is reshaping the way people are viewing themselves and the world around them," he said. "People have discovered the power of their voices and the vulnerability of authoritarian regimes. The youth are more involved than ever and they have a new imagination of the future.

"I am proud of the role Al-Jazeera has played in empowering a new generation of Arab youth who have saved the Arab world from aging, corrupt and authoritarian regimes. Al-Jazeera's paradigm of journalistic integrity has been a landmark in the Arab World and internationally."

Khanfar's journalistic career has taken him to some of the world's most dangerous regions, including Baghdad during the peak of the Iraq war, and conflicts across Africa and Afghanistan. He was Director General of Al-Jazeera from 2006 until September 2011, and was ranked as one of Foreign Policy magazine's top 100 global thinkers.

Khanfar will speak at the University of Sydney for the University's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.


Event details

What: Journalism and Political Transition in the Arab World

When: 12.30 to 2pm, Thursday 22 November

Where: Room 114, Mackie Building, Camperdown Campus, Arundel St, Glebe. See map

More info: 9351 7686 or arts.cpacs@sydney.edu.au


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Emily Jones, 02 9114 1961, emily.jones@sydney.edu.au