Journalism and the environment

11. Disappearance of farmers in Bahrain: shared experience of journalist and Middle East expert Islam Alzeny /

What do you think if I say Bahrain? Sand, oil and ‎skyscrapers, no doubt, ‎perhaps less about its ‎endangered agriculture. We’re tackling a little-‎known ‎story about this small Gulf state, long ‎known as the “Land of a Million Palm ‎Trees”, with ‎a journalist and Middle East expert who doesn’t ‎hesitate to ‎investigate where the Arab media fear ‎to tread.‎

Islam Alzeny – Journalist – Bahrain

‎Climate change is one of the challenges in the Arab ‎region, especially in the Gulf region. But I think there is a ‎need for continued support and work to provide land ‎for agriculture.‎

Climate change is one reason for the disappearance of farmers in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Add to this the lack of water, rising temperatures, urbanization and salinization of arable land.

Despite government subsidies, the farmers end up selling their lands to developers.

Islam Alzeny – Journalist – Bahrain

However, it is not possible to transform all lands to ‎industrial projects, because agriculture is a source of ‎food security for the Kingdom of Bahrain.

In 2016, the Bahrain authorities launched a campaign aiming to wipe out opposition movements in the country.

An insecure context, both for the journalists and for the farmers in difficulty who dare not testify.

Islam Alzeny – Journalist – Bahrain

When you ‎need to meet some farmers, for example, we also ‎advise, in most cases, that these farmers have ‎associations, unions, and clubs or whatever, to ‎represent them.

‎ These unions or associations can be contacted ; to get ‎the contact numbers of some farmers. There is also important ‎advice. As there is a rule in Journalism that we call the ‎‎”broken leg” the view of this rule says that if your leg is ‎broken, only someone with a broken foot like you will ‎feel you.‎

 This rule provides in a nutshell that you have to feel the ‎person you are going to meet. The farmer may feel lack ‎of confidence when speaking with a Journalist he ‎doesn’t know, like any ordinary person. Thus, you ‎should try to read more about agriculture, be ready for ‎questions, and make the farmer believes that you are ‎close to him, that you are someone want to talk to in ‎order to get some information, and that you make him ‎feel comfortable. ‎

In 2017, Islam Alzeny started the first media programme on climate change in the Middle East.

Islam Alzeny – Journalist – Bahrain

Global Investigative Journalism Conference ‎

The first media program was very interesting because ‎there is significantly a lack of awareness of climate ‎change in the Arab region.

Unfortunately, not only community awareness among ‎people, but even journalists’ awareness. The most ‎challenges that a journalist who works on climate ‎change can face for the first time is that the issue is ‎feared, a large or complex issue, or that the journalist is ‎not a specialist in environmental or climate issues.‎

However, I would like to assure you, dear. You do not ‎need to be a learner of the environment or of climate ‎issues in general; but it is very important to try to ‎simplify the information for them. No information is ‎given to them in a complex academic manner; hence no ‎one can benefit from it. You should try to simplify the ‎information for them. ‎

We recommend that you use graphs, infographics or ‎video graphics in delivering data to them. And try to… ‎there are some websites that provide climate change ‎terms and how you can explain them in a simple way.‎

Islam Alzeny founded “A Corruption-Free Society”, selected in 2015 as the best innovative social anti-corruption project in the Middle East and North Africa.

He is no longer on the editorial staff and prefers to remain an independent journalist.

Islam Alzeny – Journalist – Bahrain

‎In fact, we encourage journalists to produce stories if ‎they are freelancers, because if you work with media ‎then maybe there will be specific newspaper policies ‎that limit publishing the entire story, in case your story is ‎allowed to be published.‎

Working with an independent organization will grant ‎you the opportunity to publish and perhaps get support ‎to do whatever you want. This does not mean that ‎working with organizations is wrong; But that just ‎means you can take advantage of the merits you can ‎get by working independently. Don’t think that if you are ‎a freelancer, you can post your story on social media sites now or even on a private ‎blog.‎

A CFI project in partnership with France Médias Monde

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