It’s very hard to find something positive to say about Strategic Communications these days. Afghanistan and Iraq dominate the headlines and make the world appear to be a very bleak place.However, there are a couple of bright spots for those in Strategic Communications willing to think out of the box and take a longer range view than tomorrow’s headline. The September 3, 2009 Arts Section of the NY Times featured an article entitled: Dubai Superheros: Little Old Grannies Who Wear Veils (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/arts/television/03animated.html?scp=1&sq=Dubai%20Superheros&st=cse) Photo: NY Times
Mohammed Saeed Harib nor Freej, the United Arab Emirate’s (UAE) and therefore very likely the Middle East’s first 3-D animated series may not be as well known as the Simpsons or South Park, but the potential for the Grannie Superheros is worthy of note because it indicates a societal maturation. Societies that have a means to look at themselves and raise issues through ‘characters’ are better able to deal with issues and inequities thwarting the appeal of fundamentalism.
During my service in Bosnia it was clear to me that a free and credible media was a fundamental cornerstone of any nation. Citizens need to be informed and be able to dialog about their societies.
The next level of sophistication is another way for society’s to view themselves and that’s entertainment as a vehicle to address social issues. Freej cannot attack issues head on like The Simpsons or South Park and must of necessity is an indirect approach.
Supporting an entertainment venture like Freej might not seem like Strategic Communication – but it clearly is because as Freej and other forms of entertainment open up issues for discussion and perhaps potential action they can facilitate the positive transformation of a society.
Over time sociological entertainment from the UAE would likely be exported to other areas of the region and perhaps even spawn copy cat programs that would have a local spin, yet still have the positive effect of expanding societal expression.
I should also point out that Mr. Harib attended Northeastern University in Boston which has itself evolved from a commuter based university built on balancing work experience and academic study to one of the top 100 universities in the US, and oh yes, my Alma Mater!