I celebrated my 45th birthday 5 days ago and it’s funny how we always have a kind of flashback and assessment of our lives on this particular day. After spending my childhood in the UAE, I came back on my 23rd birthday to start working in Abu Dhabi TV and it’s been 22 years to the dot. I’ve always been excited to work as a journalist but I started as a video editor in the operations department. However, my dream of having my voice heard pushed me to train and observe how others wrote and produced their reports and voice-overs. This was so fascinating and motivating for me.

One day, I was asked to record a soundbite at work to be used in the news segment. A soundbite is a short and easy to remember sentence often used by politicians and public figures to be picked up and repeated by newspapers, radio and television. The soundbite I had to record was a translation of a short sentence from English to Arabic that would later be inserted as dubbing. It did not exceed 5 or 6 seconds yet those few seconds were such a thrill for me and I couldn’t wait to hear it on Tv. That same night I was invited to dinner at a friend’s along with our school friends. I had them turn on the Tv and put on the news and I waited for the segment. When it came on, I was exhilarated to hear my voice and have it be heard.

Today and for the past 10 years, everyone’s voice is being heard and everyone has a platform to express themselves. But at that time, I celebrated having my voice, not even my sentence just my voice, heard on Tv among my friends and at home. That moment made all the difference for me. So I’ve built my whole career on the fact that I’d like my voice to reach wide and far. Yet at the same time, I wasn’t able to have my voice heard in many situations in my life. All the while I was, and still am, equipping others with the right tools and helping them share their stories.

Despite all the available tools and platforms, I believe that we still have a long way to go to have our own message and thoughts conveyed. Are we really having our own voices heard? Or are we all repeating soundbites, someone else’s thought? The availability of space for all of us to share our stories and views is a modern miracle; one that comes with a hefty price tag. The smallest part of it is all the noise echoing in those spaces. Are we able to sift through generic and over-recycled information to reach authentic, valuable and empowering voices?

And on the day that marked the beginning of my life as well as my career, I found myself diving in those thoughts and asking myself: “What are we really doing? Do we know how to pick the voice that we learn from?” 

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Maya Hojeij

Maya Hojeij is a Tv business anchor / host, moderator & MC as well as an adjunct professor of communication in AUD. With 20+ years in television, Maya is one of the first stock watchers on Arab TV, making her one of the most competent and credible media trainers in the ME. This is further enhanced by her academic love and her commitment to nurturing and developing the talents of the Arab youth, enabling them to become the leaders of tomorrow.