Advisor on Strategic Affairs to the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran Dr. Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour will be speaking at the seventh session of the 9th Al Jazeera Forum, to be held in Doha from the 4th to the 6th of May this year. Sajjadpour will give a keynote speech in which he may possibly touch on current regional and international issues from an Iranian perspective. This session falls under the theme of “Despotism and the Future of Democracy in the Arab World” and will be attended by academics, decision-makers, writers and journalists from different countries thus making the forum a platform for dialogue in which ideas from all intellectual trends and political stripes may be put forward.

Following the keynote speech is the eighth session, “The Role of Media in Conflicts,” which will host Jamal Khashoggi, Director of Al-Arab News Channel; Razan Ghazzawi, Programme Coordinator at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting; Ian Black, Middle East Editor of the The Guardian; Yasser Abuhilala, Director of Al Jazeera Arabic; and Nadia Al-Saqqaf, former Minister of Information in Yemen. As part of the session, Al Jazeera's Public Liberties and and Human Rights Department will hold a seminar entitled “The Absence of Justice in the Plight of Journalists.”

These events are in harmony with the trends of the past eight forums which built up rich dialogue amongst intellectuals, politicians, journalists and decision-makers locally, regionally and internationally and deepened the understanding of the events happening around the world. This year the forum will also pay special attention to the protection of journalists in areas of conflict, war and unrest.

Al Jazeera Media Training Centre will hold several events, including workshops it entitled “Geopolitics Animations” and “Media and Social Change” respectively. It should be noted that Al Jazeera Media Network is a rare phenomenon in the Middle East and dedicates special attention to the relationship between the media and political events as it has has lost many of its correspondents and staff in war zones and conflicts. This was highlighted during its very first forum, which was held in Doha in 2004 and facilitated broad discussion between the various parties on controversial issues in the region.

Al Jazeera Media Network held a second forum in 2006 under the title, “The Media between Freedom and Responsibility,” and a third forum in 2007 under the title, “Media and the Middle East: Beyond the Headlines.” The fourth forum was held in 2008 under the title “Power, Media and the Middle East.”

Director of Al Jazeera English Al Anstey stressed that the primary function of the press is to give a voice to the people and provide credible information regardless of who they are and where they live. Journalists strive to do so in order to give to their readers and viewers around the world a complete picture of those events from various angles.