Statement by IsDB President Dr. Bandar Hajjar, at the First Virtual Forum of the Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA)

By HE Dr. Bandar Hajjar,
President of Islamic Development Bank
  • Your Excellency Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, Acting Minister of Media in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Chairman of the UNA Executive Council;
  • Your Excellency,  Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, OIC Secretary General;
  • Honourable Mr. Zayed Sultan Abdullah, UNA Assistant Director;
  • Honourable directors of OIC member state news agencies;
  • Brothers and Sisters,

As-salamo alaykom wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

At the outset, I pray in these blessed days that Allah the Almighty may accept our fasting and night prayers, and that He may relieve all mankind from its current blight. 

I would also like to thank His Excellency Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi for inviting me to participate in this important forum, which gives the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) an opportunity to laud the efforts exerted by UNA and its role as an umbrella organisation for official news agencies in OIC member states, and in developing and promoting the media in those states. 

The COVID-19 virus has become the epicentre of universal attention, particularly since WHO declared it a global pandemic last March. Not surprisingly, the mediascape has been experiencing a major surge of late. This virus, which is causing infections and deaths in thousands every day, has captivated the world's attention and is now being followed in all forms of print, radio, and television media.  

Your Excellencies and Honours;

Obviously, the media plays a pivotal role in educating and informing the people about major issues that concern humanity, such as climate and environmental change, natural disasters and pandemics. Such issues and challenges and their economic, social and health-related implications can only be comprehended through the exchange of data and information and the transfer of experience.

The media also plays a central role in development by highlighting international efforts and the initiatives by international financial institutions and multilateral development banks aimed primarily at reducing the spread of the pandemic, hence mitigating its negative economic and social consequences.

Since the first day of the outbreak, IsDB has not limited itself to providing financial assistance and aid or providing medical equipment and supplies to the member countries and Muslim communities affected by the pandemic, but has also extended its efforts far beyond that scope.  

Specifically, the "Strategic Preparedness and Response" program launched by IsDB Group to help member countries contain and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic includes a comprehensive aid package with an initial volume of US$2.3 billion, which provided immediate and urgent assistance to support the health sector towards saving lives. It also supports SMEs, which employ about 90% of the IsDB member country population, in addition to providing food and helping countries achieve food security.

The program also included medium and long-term projects aimed at helping countries expedite recovery and restoration of normalcy, while enhancing their resilience to similar crises that may occur in the future. The program follows a three-thronged approach:

Respond, Restore and Restart.

IsDB called on scientists, innovators, universities and research centres to propose innovative projects to tackle the pandemic and mitigate its economic and social consequences using 4IR technologies to monitor and curb the spreading of the virus; improve disease surveillance systems; provide patient care; introduce systems for medical supply chain management and a new technology for the design of biotechnology laboratories; develop low-cost tests and screening methods; and enhance the capacity of operational bodies providing healthcare services. These projects will be funded from the Transfer Fund, established by IsDB with a capital of US$500 million. 

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my brother, His Excellency Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi, and all UNA officials for the launch of the 2020 virtual training program, which has been prepared professionally and carefully in terms of choosing the topics that contribute to enriching the media content in order to serve development issues. 

Believing in the crucial role of the media as a strategic partner for development; continuing the process of co-operation between the IsDB Group and UNA, which has become an effective media and information tool; and to assist OIC organs and institutions, I am pleased to announce that the IsDB Group is willing to establish an effective partnership with UNA to support UNA development projects and programs. Particular emphasis will be made on supporting specialised training programs to enhance the professional abilities of press and media staff and on employing technological and digital ICT advancements so that OIC journalists and collaborators in member states can develop their professional capacities in addressing various development issues, including addressing disasters and pandemics.

We live in an era of specialisation, and it is therefore essential that we have press and media professionals who specialise in the affairs of regional and international organisations, and who would serve as an outlet for these organisations to their immediate and broader spheres.

Such co-operation will further IsDB’s development objectives and contribute to increasing the visibility of its global role as a preferred partner for member countries in meeting development challenges. 

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate my thanks to your excellencies and honours for your continued support to all aspects of promoting joint Islamic action, while stressing the commitment of the IsDB Group to support OIC’s objectives in serving the causes and aspirations of the peoples of the Islamic world in order to achieve sustainable development in the member states. 

 

As-salamo alaykom wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.