Dubai conference to focus on preserving media archives

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A conference on media archives opened in Dubai on Friday with the aim of preserving cultural heritage through audio-visual records.

The World Conference held by the International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA), hosted by the Al Arabiya News Channel, will run until Monday.

The aim of the conference is to examine the “ins and outs of broadcast and media archiving”, said Jan Müller, president of FIAT/IFTA.

Media companies from across the globe, include some from the Middle East, will address the conference to discuss how they preserve audio-visual records.

“These archives are our collective memories. Without these well-preserved images and sounds, and without the possibility to find them back, research and reuse them or simply view them, we would miss an important part of our cultural heritage. We would lose a part of our identity,” Müller told Al Arabiya News.

The digitization of archives will be one theme of the event, Müller said. “Audio-visual archives are in a period of transition. They are all experiencing what it means to enter the digital domain,” he said.

Dorothy Donnan, head of news libraries at the Al Arabiya News Channel, said the role of media archivists is changing. She said the event is expected to attract 250 to 300 people.

“The conference will focus on digitization of audio visual archives; the place of the archive and of the archivist has changed dramatically in the television industry over the last decade,” she said.

Ali Ibrahim Al Marri, general director of the Dr. Sultan Al Qassimi Center of Gulf Studies, who is speaking at the event, said that media companies had a duty to share their knowledge globally. “The question [is] how to use the archive to bring knowledge worldwide,” he told Al Arabiya.

Speakers at the event include: Sam Barnett, chief executive of MBC Group; Nabil Khatib, executive editor the Al Arabiya News Channel; Abdulrahman al-Hazaa, president of the Saudi Broadcasting Corporation; and Jacqui Gupta, a technology consultant for the BBC.

Al Arabiya News is part of MBC Group.