Public discussion about sensitive social and political issues is not common in DW's broadcasting regions in the Arab world. DW's Arabic-language programming reaches millions of people from Morocco to Oman.
Jaafar, you were born in Liberia and grew up in different countries. How has this influenced you?
I have above all learned to respect people for what they are – people. My experiences have also helped me to live in different countries without much difficultly.
Why do you believe so strongly in the younger generation in Egypt and other Arab countries?
Because I have seen their strong will, their great potential and their many talents. Young people want to live in freedom and dignity. Corruption, for example, is unacceptable to them. This generation will be ruling the Arab world in the foreseeable future, but no one gives them the proper recognition. Those in power are too concerned with their own interests.
What role can Shababtalk play with young Arab audiences?
We offer them a forum where they can freely and critically express their opinions. That is especially important for DW, and also for me personally. At the same time, our show is a platform for dialogue, as we consistently bring together young people from the Arab world and Germany. It is crucial to provide an equal footing for dialogue.
Are their any topics considered taboo on your show?
No. When we choose topics for Shababtalk, we don't recognize "taboos" or "prohibitions". This is one of the format's strengths, which also adds greatly to the credibility of DW in the Arab world. Viewers are thankful that we openly, but sensitively, discuss subjects that are taboo in their regions. We talk about the role of women, the influence of religion and also about homosexuality. The opinion of the host is, by the way, not important. Instead, we provide our young guests with room to have a constructive and controversial exchange of ideas.
Is there anything new on Shababtalk?
Yes, we have been developing new content and improving the presentation of the program. Since July 2015 we have been reaching out more to people and looking closer at the issues that matter to them. We are visiting young people in our broadcast regions and are shooting episodes there. We have already been to Baghdad, Tunis, Rabat and Cairo and we are planning for Lebanon, Jordan and Dubai. We work together with production partners on location and they also broadcast Shababtalk. This is how we can focus locally on people and their problems while conveying sensitive topics more authentically.