Ahmed Baider – a Yemeni Award Winning Journalist Producer and a nominee for several Awards including Fighting Famine Awards,EMMY Awards and Amnesty Awards – answers The Elixir’s 30 Questions.
Who is Ahmed Baider?
An Award-wining journalist producer and nominee for several Awards including Fighting Famine Awards, EMMY Awards and Amnesty Awards. Entrepreneur with 10 years of business development and operational experience in logistics and the journalism industry. Graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. A rich experience in journalism. Enjoys working with others to solve problems and create a win-win situation.
2) News or Entertainment in the early morning?
Yes, I do like to check news everyday in the morning. And reply to work emails. Like answering journalists’ questions.
3) What is your favourite little- known place in Yemen?
Old Sanaa city is my place to go. Before I became a journalist field producer I used to be a young tourist guide. So I love to walk and discover new paths through the old Sanaa city.
4) Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the Yemeni people. They always keep smiling although they face difficulties these days in this unmerciful war in my country. All the barriers Yemeni people face nowadays, they always try to find solution and skip them. What a great nation we are.
5) What Newspaper do you rely on for figuring out the truth?
No one in specific but I like to read news from different sources and angles.
6) If you could describe Yemen to someone who has never seen it before, what would you say?
I would say if you want to go to heaven come to Yemen. Where you can find peaceful nature and rich history. As well as greatly welcoming people. Yes Yemen is at war now, but one day peace will overcome the land and the country will prosper. Our country is very unique and very beautiful. As a tourist guide who worked in Yemen, I have never found a tourist who hasn’t come again to visit the country or invite his family and friends to Yemen.
7) What is one thing you miss the most about Yemen?
I really miss the sound of the birds chirping in the early morning as we stroll down the peaceful narrow streets of old Sana’a city. We used to have so much fun in the past. I miss the night we used to sleep not worrying that we might wake up in the morning to find a friend, family, neighbor has been lost that night due to the air-strikes, bombings or in the war fronts.
8) One thing you’d like to change about your past?
I’d love to relive my old days spreading awareness, making seminars, talking to people about the outer world. Maybe something would’ve changed. Maybe we would’ve made a significant impact on our society and things wouldn’t have gone this bad.
9) The three most important things to Ahmed.
First I like to socialize, make new friends and meet people from around the world. Because meeting people is like gaining gold. Secondly I am a very hard working person. If I aim for something I try my best to achieve it.
Thirdly, I try my best to help people in any significant way possible. I like to live by Ghandi’s words “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
10) Your best phase in life and why?
My teenage years, because that was the time I built myself and my future.
11) Ahmed’s leisure activities?
I like to spend time with my great beloved wife. I like to meet my friends and make good relations with people.
12) What is one thing that has been on your bucket list for too long?
Build my own firm and study masters in a good university.
13) Your philosophy in life?
Honesty and dedication are the secret keys for success. Through building good relations and being a reliable person. People will love and respect you if you are a good person.
14) Someone who believed in you when no one else did?
In my journalism career, the head of crews and producer of ITV News in the UK, Mr. Paul Tyson. He is the one who really supported me and pushed me to become a great producer.
15) If you were to make it to the headlines, what would the title of your story be?
A Yemeni young man who wants to make a change in his country.
16) How did your career build up?
Well, in the beginning I was a tourist guide who enjoyed to accompany tourists in Sanaa, so I was my country’s ambassador to tourists. In 2011, tourists stopped coming to Yemen because of the Arab spring. Although tourists stopped coming, there were still some foreigners in Sanaa. Some of them were students learning Arabic, diplomats or journalists. So a close friend of mine who worked in Yemen for several years called Iona Craig used to complain about how difficult it was to get/ renew visas to enter the country. So I thought how about I try to get her a press visa since I can easily get multiple tourists visas a day. I spoke to the Ministry of information at the time and I started working on getting her residency from the immigration office and we got it. She was very happy and I was happy I made it happen. I realized then that there was a huge gap between foreign journalists and the Yemeni local authorities since they don’t speak the language and they don’t deal with emails. From that time on I became like mediator between journalists and the government.
17) In your quest to finding the truth through producing, what was the most dangerous thing you had to do?
Of course there are so many threats we faced while working in the war zones in Yemen. One of the most scary terrifying moments was when I heard airstrikes while we wore working in village next to Harad in the Yemeni border.
18) We all have our political preferences and affiliations, how biased is Ahmed when creating content?
Belonging to a country that is facing the worst humanitarian crisis these days, I always focus on the humanitarian side of every story and avoid working on political situations.
19) What is one huge obstacle you had to overcome to be where you are today?
The biggest challenges I faced and am still facing is getting press visas for journalists since we have different political parties in Yemen controlling different regions of the country. Sometimes we face difficulties in getting visas on time for all the places at once. For example, journalists who want to travel to the north need visas issued from The official government visas as well the authorities in Sana’a.
20) Describe a moment when you wanted to give up your career as a producer.
At times when I find my self incapable of granting media outlets access to Yemen because of the obstruction we find from the authorities (sometimes all authorities at once) I find my self starting to lose hope but soon after I gain my optimism back and start trying again until I do get them the access.
21) What was the best event you have ever been to?
The Emmy awards ceremony as well as the UNGA event in NewYork, which I was very lucky to be invited to by my greatly supportive friend Lyse Doucet. I had a chance to meet world leaders and high diplomats which was a great honor to me.
22) What is the most challenging part about producing?
Finding the right story and arranging access for foreign medias to cover this story.
23) What do you think makes a good story?
The good story is the one we link between the story’s character and situation and the audience. We always say we cover what we see with our eyes.
24) How did it feel to be granted the Emmy Award? Tell us about that experience.
It’s was a great experience. I was very happy that I was nominated for my work with PBS’s NewsHour program. And by chance the next day I was informed that I was nominated for my work with ABC’s news nightline program. I was very happy that an award like this means we have casted the spotlight on the crisis in Yemen.
25) Whats after the Emmy Award for Ahmed?
I will keep doing my work to cover my people’s stories and deliver them to the world so one day peace will rise and the war will stop.
26) When confronted between telling the truth or putting your life at stake, would Ahmed fight or flee?
We fight for the truth. And I think the stories we have covered from highly dangerous war zones answer this question.
27) From your own perspective, define Truth.
Truth is the most important thing in being a person that feels like the responsibility of delivering the voice of millions of people to the world.
28) In your opinion, how do you think film making and journalism helped the situation in Yemen.
One of the well known UN diplomats told me that every time a story covering the humanitarian crisis in Yemen comes out, International committees change their policies .
29) Do you agree that every media entity has its own agenda?
I do, and we try to gain as much as we can during that agenda.
30) Where is Ahmed Baider’s life headed?
To work harder in achieving our goals to change the situations in Yemen. Until we put an end to this unmerciful war, we won’t stop.