Regional news editor, Middle East and North Africa, SciDev.Net
A thought came to my mind when I was attending the World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) in Montréal 2004. Could such a significant event ever be held in an Arab country, giving science journalists, both in my region and many developing countries, the opportunity to benefit from the experienced crowd in this field? There were only five Arab attendees in Montréal — including me — and only about 40 from the whole of the developing world.
I am therefore delighted that, in only seven years, this thought has turned into reality, and that I will shortly be attending the WCSJ in an Arab country (Qatar), with about 80 attendees from the Arab world alone, and about 40% of the conference’s 650 attendees from developing countries.
The Arab spring has been an obstacle requiring a change in the conference venue from Cairo to Doha. But I’m confident that this wave of democratic revival will boost science journalism in the Arab world, with this conference as a helping hand.
I still have a slight fear that the language barrier could prevent Arab journalists from getting the most out of this precious opportunity. But I also have the hope that the language of science can unify us all.