Under the theme: “Journalism & Accountability in a Disrupted World”, ARIJ21; 14th hybrid annual forum, took place on December 3rd - 5th, 2021 in Amman, Jordan.

Due to the recent global disruptions, those in power have been seizing the pandemic as an opportunity to silence journalists, restrict their access to information, and contribute to partial, if not total, media blackout. It has become more important than ever for journalists to hold the powerful accountable for their actions. In light of that, ARIJ’s board has selected this year’s Forum theme.

ARIJ Forum was a chance to explore new directions, tackle current challenges, share knowledge, and network with leaders of Arab and global investigative journalism movements; an annual event to boost reporting skills, learn new tools, and get acquainted with the latest trends in investigative reporting.

The Forum offered opportunities for its participants to network with digital platforms, TV broadcasters, technology companies, and universities from around the globe. In addition to offering opportunities to train and equip journalists, to serve as society’s watch-dogs in favour of democracy, transparency, and the rule of law in one of the world’s most autocratic regions. Moreover, giving lecturers and media students a chance to interact with professionals.

Building on last year’s full virtual experience, ARIJ planned a hybrid Forum for 5700 virtual and physical participants from 50+ countries. ARIJ21 hosted a total of 130+ speakers from 30+ different countries; 70+ speakers in pre-Forum activities and 60+ speakers in Forum activities. 50% of speakers were females, for the 2nd year in a row. ARIJ21 Pre-Forum activities began on October 20th, 2021.

This included: 8 workshops, 12 webinars, 3 meetings, 2 networking days and a virtual exhibition. This all provided Arabic speaking journalists with the latest insights, methodologies, and tools related to the investigative journalism ecosystem covering different topics such as: mis/disinformation, comprehensive safety, digital storytelling, innovation, fundraising, producing investigative podcasts, blockchain, etc. These sessions were attended by 4800+ participants.

On the evening of December 2nd, ARIJ Director General Rawan Damen and Communications Manager Samya Aish hosted a live session to highlight ARIJ21 agenda.

The official opening ceremony on December 3rd was attended by 400+ virtual and physical attendees, including Swedish Ambassador Alexandra Rydmark and Dutch Ambassador Harry Verweij in Jordan.

In addition to the planned sessions, 40 one-on-one digital security clinics took place physically. This included checking Pegasus spyware on different mobile phones, and laptop devices

% Satisfaction rate


+Live events

Participants worldwide


Most attended Pre-Forum sessions

  • “Producing Investigative Podcasts” was implemented in partnership with GIJN and led by Scripps DC Executive Producer Podcasts Susan Reber, and moderated by GIJN Arabic Editor Majdoleen Hassan. During this session Susan Reber explained how to transform investigative reports into audio material, went into the fundamentals of making a successful audio program, the steps to follow in order to capture the attention of the audience, as well as discussing different interviewing techniques and how journalists should deal with people who had experienced trauma. Furthermore, the speaker highlighted the importance of using open questions to be able to attain as much information as possible.

    "The ability of the journalist's voice to create scenes in investigative podcasts enhances the quality of work and its ability to attract listeners."

    -Trainer Susanne Reber, Executive Producer of Podcasts at Scripps DC

  • “Creative Writing in Investigative Journalism” webinar was led by Al Arabi TV Journalist and Novelist Abdullah Maksour and moderated by ARIJ Coach Safaa Ramahi. The webinar discussed the concept of creative writing in journalism, the available tools that could be used, and shed light on the concept of “The Writing Map” to illustrate how a story is different from a scenario. The trainees learned how to transform a written text into a visual story, and explored the needed skills to write the story body, in addition to learning more about editing.

    “Writing is the art of balancing feelings with objectivity, and it needs a plan to be implemented”.

    - Abdullah Maksour - Al Arabi TV Journalist and Novelist

  • “Environmental Investigations - The Use of Satellite Data and Digital Tools” was implemented in partnership with Pulitzer and was led by Pulitzer Environmental Investigations Editor Gustavo Faleiros and Pulitzer Data Editor Kuang Keng Kuek Ser, and moderated by ARIJ Senior Data Editor and Coach Mohammed Komani. The attendees learned about remote sensing techniques, tools, and applications that can be used to show satellite images of a certain area, and show the changes over a period of time in a way that enhances their environmental story's presentation. Trainers gave examples of how journalists are using advancements in digital technology and satellite imagery for data/map-based investigations to report on deforestation and other illegal activities.

    “To gather stories, go to the field and locate the areas where you want to tell your stories with satellite imagery, by focusing on the factor of time, geographic locations, measuring distance and identifying points of intersection”

    - Gustavo Faleiros - Pulitzer Environmental Investigations Editor

  • “Photojournalism - an Investigative Tool for Storytelling” was implemented in partnership with EJN. The webinar was led by Photographer Mohamad Badarne and moderated by ARIJ DG Rawan Damen. The webinar covered the different aspects of producing journalistic reports and video projects on labour, the history and development of labour journalism, the technical, ethical, and challenges journalists encounter to produce stories on labour and labour issues as well as showing a number of TV investigations and explaining how they were developed from an idea to production. During the webinar Badarne presented a project on labour life in Palestine called “I Wish You a Safe Return” throughout which he demonstrated the importance of the technical aspect of photography with all its factors of lighting, colour and the ones that enriched the investigative content, where he tried to shed light on the reality of the exploitation of workers, and to induce those responsible to assist them in obtaining their rights. He also emphasised that journalists in action should have high moral standings at all times and that the photographed person should not be disrespected or humiliated in the course of filming. He also recalled that the equipment used, such as camera type and lens, should be suitable for the target. Moreover, Journalists were advised not to put themselves at risk in the course of their work, to protect and maintain the safety of the project participants, and not to reveal their identities.

    "A photograph is a piece of investigative reporting. Cameras fast forward reality, and one photo is able to prove an event has happened, replacing hundreds of words."

    -Mohamad Badrane, photographer and trainer in social photography and visual narration

  • “Pegasus and More: How to Detect Malicious Programs” was led by ARIJ’s Digital Manager Khalid Waleed, where he provided the trainees with tips and guidance aimed at raising their awareness on how to detect malicious programs on their devices and how to work safely digitally. The trainer stated that digital security tools alone do not achieve digital security; there must be a combination of different factors such as: digital awareness, a good understanding and mechanism of dealing with different security breaches. Moreover, he stressed that all devices can be hacked; as precautionary measures and to protect these devices, the trainer advised to use antiviruses such as: Firewall, Avira, Norton, by Cloudflare and NetGuard among others as well as recommended the journalists to follow these steps to work safely: 1. Update and encrypt their devices on a daily basis 2. Avoid downloading many applications or sending SMS messages 3. Not to connect to public Internet networks 4. Make backups and keep them in a place other than Cloud 5. Use more than one mobile phone and more than one email; one for work and other for personal matters 5.

    “Awareness is one of the most important factors that help maintain digital security."

    -Trainer Khalid Waleed


The opening ceremony of ARIJ21 forum was inaugurated by Swedish Ambassador to Jordan- Alexandra Rydmark (speech), Dutch Ambassador to Jordan- Harry Verweij (speech). ARIJ Board Member - Acil Tabbarah (speech) welcomed the audience to the forum and introduced ARIJ 2022 - 2024 Strategy.

The Speakers included: Head of International Whistleblower Practice - Constantine Cannon LLP- Mary Inman (speech) and IMS Senior Advisor- Henrik Grunnet (speech). ARIJ AFCN Manager Saja Mortada and ARIJ Coach/Editor Firas Al Taweel moderated the ceremony and announced ARIJ 2022 projects along with ARIJ Director General- Rawan Damen (speech/AR). A 7 minutes film featuring three ARIJean investigative journalists from Egypt, Palestine and Yemen and one fact checker from Tunisia, who all arrived to attend ARIJ21 forum in Amman was shown in the opening in Arabic with English subtitles below:

“I am exhausted, not from the stress of work, but from the political, social and economic conditions in the Arab world, but I find my way through the determination of the ARIJ team that supports investigative journalism work”
Rawan Damen, Director General of ARIJ

“Imagine a world without independent media.. to be ruled by fear ... It would be impossible to address.. Independent journalism is important to function fully and independently .. Journalism is the oxygen of democracy.”
Dutch Ambassador to Jordan Harry Verweij

“I salute the values of defending freedom of expression in an unstable world that has many challenges. I support all journalists seeking change, and I congratulate ARIJ for all their efforts in investigative journalism."
Swedish Ambassador to Jordan Alexandra Rydmark

“Despite all difficulties, ARIJ was able to produce investigations that made a positive impact and won international awards.”
Acil Tabbara, ARIJ Board Member

“All ministries must make information available to journalists and the public, because they have the right to obtain it.”
Senior advisor at IMS Henrik Grunnet
“I congratulate ARIJ for launching their new project iARIJ, as it will open new horizons for whistleblowers to expose corruption in the Arab world.”
Mary Inman, Head of International Whistleblower Practice، Constantine Cannon LLP

  • Throughout the opening ceremony 7 different initiatives and projects with different partners were announced.
    • The second edition of “I Will Not Stay Silent” with Meta (EN/ AR).
    • The launch of “Safety First” project with Meta (EN/ AR).
    • The launch of “Aman 360” in partnership with UNESCO; and implementing partner IFJ (EN/ AR).
    • The launch of the third edition of “ARIJ Data Diploma (AR).
    • The launch of the fifth edition of “ARIJ/NED” fellowship (AR).
    • The launch of “Sa7” project as part of AFCN; under the Qarib programme, supported by the French Media Development Agency (CFI) and funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) (EN/ AR).
    • The launch of “iARIJ”, the first Arab platform for whistleblowers in partnership with IMS (EN/ AR).
  • With the kind support of The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour (DRL), ARIJ launched the following policy papers on the second day of its 14th annual form:

    - “Compulsory Membership in the Jordan Press Association Poses Restriction on Journalistic Performance” (EN/ AR)

    The paper discussed the impact of the mandatory membership in the Jordan Press Association which leaves a restrictive impact on freedom of the press and the practice of journalism in Jordan, as the current law in the country prohibits anyone from doing journalistic work unless they are also members of the Jordanian Press Association.

    The paper tackled the most important international standards for freedom of opinion and expression that guarantee the right to practice journalism without restrictions. The research shed light on international treaties for freedom of opinion and expression and compares these with the Jordanian constitutional status and the legislation in force. The paper also highlights the contradictions between these two in order to delineate the rights of the journalists to practice their profession within a loose scope of freedoms granted by international charters and treaties that are confirmed by the constitution.

    Based on the foregoing, the paper presents many recommendations in order to enhance the freedom of the press by proposing amendments to some Jordanian legislation regulating the practice of journalism. Examples include Articles (2), (16) and (18) of the Jordan Press Association Law and Article (10) of the Press and Publications Law.

    - “Protecting Whistleblowers ​​within Jordanian Law” (EN/ AR)

    This paper analyses the laws and regulations that protect whistle-blowers and their practice to clarify the repercussions of ambiguous laws on the protection of whistle-blowers and witnesses in Jordan.

    The paper presents many recommendations, including providing an integrated legal umbrella to protect witnesses in addition to providing guarantees that the whistle-blowers would not be subject to exclusion or discrimination. The paper also recommends expanding the scope of legal protection in Jordanian legislation to include compensation for the harm inflicted on the whistle-blower or witness and all those covered by the regulation as a result of the report. This is in addition to amending the law to include the protection of whistle-blowers who disclose their information publicly or to a third party, such as the media and non-governmental organisations. It is necessary to encourage reporting abuses within a media system aimed at educating society members about their rights and duties towards the public interest to preserve state funds, their performance and institutions.


The Awards ceremony, held on December 5th evening, marked ARIJ’s 12th Annual Award and was attended by 450+ attendees, both physical and virtual. It honoured courageous Arab journalists for their bravery in pursuing their investigative journey despite the risks, threats and challenges. The awards acknowledged the integrity, dedication and professionalism of these journalists who took a step to fight corruption and injustice in their societies. They are nonpartisan and independent of any external influences beyond the investigative reports themselves.

A total of 255 applications were submitted to ARIJ Award for the year (2021) from 15 different Arab countries, with 30% of applications submitted by females. Out of 14 shortlisted journalists, who produced 10 shortlisted investigations and of which 22% were females, 3 investigations were published in anonymous names.

The awards honoured investigative journalists from all over the region. This year had a different approach in awards categorization; 1 Golden Award, 2 Silver Awards, and 1 Bronze Award.

The closing ceremony and awards announcement was inaugurated by Ambassador of Norway to Jordan HE Espen Evjenth Lindbæck (speech).

ARIJ Chairperson Kim Ghattas (speech), gave an overview of ARIJ board’s vision. Head of awards Jury Arab Journalist and Political Analyst- Abdelwahhab Badrakhan(speech), gave a summary and comments on the jury’s work. BBC Head of Programmes Safaa Faisal, Journalist - Hanene Zbiss, Board Member - Acil Tabbarah participated in delivering the awards. The ceremony was anchored by ARIJ Director General- Rawan Damen.

Finalists and Winners

Gold Award

Best Arab Investigation

Fateh Alrhman Alhamadani won for his ARIJean/BBC Arabic investigative documentary “The Schools that Chain Boys” ( AR / EN ).

Silver Award I

Best Arab Investigation

The award was a tie between two investigations; “The Journey of Captagon” and “Syrian Drugs''.

The investigative report “The Journey of Captagon” ( AR / EN ) was written by three ARIJeans: Maher Al Shaery, Sameh Laboudy and Ahmed Ashour.

Silver Award II

Best Arab Investigation

The investigation “Syrian Drugs'' ( AR / EN ) was written by non-ARIJeans Hamzeh Khodr and Samy Ahmed (pseudonym).

Bronze Award

Best Arab Investigation

The “Scorpion Prison Cells Above the Law” ( AR / EN ) investigation written by ARIJean Moayad Bilal (pseudonym).

Feedback from #ARIJ21 participants

ARIJ Partners

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Way forward

2020 marked ARIJ’s 1st virtual forum, whereas 2021, marked ARIJ’s 1st hybrid forum.

Moving forward, 2022 will mark ARIJ 2nd hybrid forum, asCovid19 regulations ease and hopefully ‘more’ travel is allowed with less restrictions.

2022 will be the 15h annual forum; the largest and only investigative journalism annual Forum in the region. ARIJ had a real adventure in executing a fully hybrid forum over a month; with 50 live sessions, despite the challenging infrastructure in the Arab world (electricity and internet). ARIJ team was working around the clock in order to make this happen, and despite all the challenges; some impossible to fix, the participants made all the effort to be there live and engage very highly.

The 2021 hybrid forum was a ‘one of a kind’ hybrid experience, where virtual participants did not feel like ‘second citizens’ - as in many forums, and got engaged with a lot of comments and live questions.

Therefore, it was decided that the 2022 forum will be ‘hybrid’ as well. This will also allow us to reach as many investigative journalists and supporters as possible.

ARIJ22 Forum theme approved by ARIJ’s board is “Defending Independent Media”.

With all the barriers 2021 has laid upon the world, and 2022 witnessing Ukrainian-Russian war, ARIJ has put its utmost power to start the preparations for the Forum in December; Dec 2 - 4 (#ARIJ22) to support a network of journalists, fact checkers, whistleblowers, partners, media supporters, academics and professionals.

If you need any further information on ARIJ Annual Forum and/or how to support this regional event, please reach out to our senior grants officer Liyan Shuhaiber at