News networks and social media are flooded with depressing news. People are imbued with negativity, and it’s affecting them psychologically. Even a makeup tutorial or a funny dancing parrot video can spark political or religious conflicts amongst viewers. “A study suggests that unnecessary long-lasting exposure to bad news can lead to mental illnesses such as stress, anxiety and depression. It can also spark disbelief or a lack of desire to live,” said Jarrah Al-Jadai, founder of the Arabic-language AlEjabiya Network.
“Mentally stable people avoid socializing with those who deliberately remind them of global tragedies. On the other hand, people avoid sharing their happy moments on social networks because others hate to see them happy or successful,” added Jadai.
With the barrage of extremism and vileness seen globally, people might lose hope in life and the existence of good in the universe. So a group of volunteers led by Jadai in 2004 decided to move out of the bad news zone and build a specialized positive online news network. Their goal is to spread the spirit of optimism and motivation, in addition to promoting the culture of volunteerism. “Our mission is to spread good news and positivity in every Arab home,” he said.
AlEjabiya.net was first launched in Kuwait, and operates with a voluntary team from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and soon, the UAE. “In January 2012, we collaborated with the news and media department of the United Nations and the FAO headquarters in New York. They believed in the urgent need to spread positivity and good news in the region,” stated Jadai. “The entire team has great faith and a deep grasp of the idea of the project and its objectives, which explains why our network has been doing well since 12 years, despite financial and administrative challenges,” he explained.
On Dec 5, AlEjabiya was honored by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for winning the ‘Pioneers of Arab Social Media’ award. Jadai hopes that the network will become a role model, as AlEjabiya believes that not everything is newsworthy. “Of course, all news is not fairly positive. We seek stories that lift spirits and emit tolerance and optimism.”
So no news is indeed good news, while AlEjabiya resists the prevailing theory that says all news is negative. It’s clear to many of us that 2016 wasn’t the happiest year. But, let’s unite with the AlEjabiya team and hope for the best in the next year.
By Athoob Al-Shuaibi