Sunday, September 1, 2013

Social Justice in the MENA Region

By: Talal Al Husseini
The Arab spring is a social movement that brought millions of people out on the streets to address the issues of inequality in the MENA region and to demand immediate political action for social justice. Social and economic developments, accompanied by an equal distribution of knowledge, income and power, are essential to build a just and equal society and assure an inclusive democratic position.
The Arab Youth have created a new reality by overthrowing their dictators and are a few steps closer to functioning democracies. This will entail a lot of work down the road, but the Egyptians, Tunisians, Yemenis, and other Arab nationalities alike understand the meaning of sacrifice for a bigger cause. Western concepts such as freedom of expression and information, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, respect for labor rights and decent work, and access of coverage and quality services will be part of the Arab culture and identity in the near Future.
Social media empowered the Arab Youth to overthrow their corrupt governments and will also empower them to transform their societies to functioning democracies that play an equal role in this globalized world.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Voice of Arab Women Online

By: Ghada Al-Wazeer

For tens of years, women have used technology as a tool to speak up, end violence and call for equality. Before the Social Media evolution, seeing women struggling fighting for their rights was not as widely spread as it is now.
Women’s rights are being violated in different ways for many reasons such as governmental, religion, and sometimes even traditional practices that discriminate between men and women and encourage violence against them. This is one reason why women in the Arab world play a big role during the Arab spring protests and were recognized globally.
During, and especially after, the Arab Spring, an online environment and culture was created. This culture doesn’t tolerate discriminative practices against women; instead, it engages women from different countries and brings them together in solidarity. Many campaigns have been created in the intention of defending women’s rights in the Arab world such as the online campaign “The Uprising of Women in the Arab World”.

In October 2011, a women’s rights group had launched a social media campaign to promote women’s rights across the Arab world. Their first “Photo Campaign” was launched on October 1st, 2012 where both men and women were asked on different social media websites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to send pictures of themselves mentioning the reason why they support the uprising of women across the Arab world. According to their page, the campaign aimed to “Highlight the various kinds of discrimination against women in the Arab world (social, economic, political, judiciary…)” They say that being aware of the injustice towards women is the first step to counter it.

The campaign also aimed to “Pin out the facts that women in our region share many struggles. We [the members of the campaign] could then create a common ground for feminist activism, overcoming the borders of the states and building on from each other’s experiences.”
The campaign members also added that they intended to use social media as a tool to display women’s conditions, especially that women have suffered lots of attacks after the success of the revolts in the Arab Spring countries.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, “The Uprising of Women in the Arab World” Facebook page launched their second campaign “Tell Your Story”. The campaign remained from November 25 until December 10, 2012.

“Because the stories hidden under our pillows need to come out in the open
 Because the only finger of blame should be pointed at the aggressor, not the victim
 Because the scandal is in the criminal act, not the victim’s reputation
 Because our silence is a self-inflicted punishment and an impunity to our aggressor
 Because we have to step out of the circle of fear and isolation into the circle of confidence and confrontation
 Because almost each one of us has endured a form of physical, psychological or sexual violence, just for being a woman: an arbitrary deprivation of liberty, or a sexual harassment (at home, at school, at work, in the streets…), rape (including marital rape), female genital mutilation, forced marriage (including marriage of minors), crimes in the name of “honor”…”

“The Uprising of women in the Arab world” is one example of the many campaigns inspired by the use of social media in the revolutions of the Arab Spring. Today their Facebook page has over 115,000 likes from people across the world. Such initiatives, serve as a place for women and men to express themselves and discuss their concerns openly and freely.


A Fan of Sharing My Location- Be Careful When Sharing Your Location

By: Ali El-Dous

People share the air they breathe, water, food, and resources all over the globe. However, their geographical locations is a different matter. When you think about how big the Earth is, seven continents, according to Wikipedia, consisting of a total land area of 148,647,000 square kilometers, you can then imagine how difficult it is to locate a person without a Global Position System (GPS). Global Positioning System (GPS) devices can be found everywhere nowadays: They're used in cars, boats, airplanes, and even in cellular phones. Handheld GPS receivers are carried by cyclists, hikers, surveyors, map makers, and others who need to know where they are. Like any other invention, the GPS has advantages along with disadvantages and it all depends on how much we understand it, and how we use it. The focus here is on the issues that surround sharing locations on social networks using the GPS feature.
The “Sharing Location” is a feature which allows any user of a mobile, tablet, or any other electronic device, which supports GPS , to share his/her current location. It’s very important to point out that the people who share their current location might do it strictly for show without fully understanding that it might be harmful to them. We see a lot of people who share their location while eating in a five star hotel or traveling to a rich country with friends solely to make a social statement. But of course, that doesn't apply to everyone.

Now, any normal person can track others throughout the social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. Moreover, sharing location feature has become an issue where privacy violation can be committed. Some current applications available on the market such as Footprints. Footprints has a feature to automatically share locations on social networks without the permission of the device owner. This would be a problem to those who are going to private places or don’t want their destinations or even homes to be publically announced for different reasons. This feature may also result in theft, where a person could possibly share his/her location visiting luxurious places and becomes a target to thieves. Another Application that operates on Apple devices that we should be aware of is called Find My Friends. This application allows Apple users to track the movements of their friends or family and once again, facing the same disatvantages as other location share applications.

One of the negative effects due to sharing locations on social networks is data collection companies (DCCs). Those companies sell our information to others looking for high income by targeting their advertisements. The data being collected by the DCCs includes, for example, most visited restaurants, countries and hotels. 
We don’t know what other data these companies are collecting. again, our personal data is being collected and sold, and this is a source for income for DCC. However, the key issue here is people’s privacy is being violated, and they are mostly unaware of it!

Generally speaking, it’s all about people who use new technologies. When using a GPS to share a location on social networks sites, people have to be aware of what they share. Besides that, what they share represents their personality. The awareness is crucial especially for young people who tend to have less knowledge about protecting their privacy online. A rich book full of examples about privacy violations called “I know who you are and I saw what you did” is really suggested for people to raise their awareness in this field “how to pay attention to your privacy over the internet (online)”.

“Before you share, make sure that you’re aware”

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Global Revolution Instigated By Social Media Networks

By Bilal Khalifeh

A protest is an expression of objection, by words or by actions, to particular events, policies or situations. That’s how Wikipedia defines a protest.
Protests can take various forms, from individual declarations to mass demonstrations and marches. A protest could also be a reaction to a counter-protest.

Some people claim that the ancient Egyptians at Dairy El-madina performed the first protest in history in 1152 BC. This protest was carried out against the rule of King Ramses III. The workers or slaves declared a mass demonstration against delays in the payment of their wages and they protested by going on strike.

Nearly 3000 years later, the famous French revolution in 1789 had a fundamental impact on French history and on modern history worldwide, and which was also the result of an economic crisis and the increasing frustration of people over the ineptitude of King Louis XVI and the continued decadence of the aristocracy. 

To avoid paying the British tax on salt, the famous Gandhi decided to find his own salt. To do so, Ghandi walked 240 miles over the course of 24 days, joined by a growing number of followers. However, Gandhi was jailed, but the protest drew national attention to his cause and he was eventually released. There was no immediate success to his peaceful protest, but eventually India obtained its independence 20 years later.
Some 160 years later, Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, as a protest against the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that he said he was subjected to by a municipal official and her aides. Tarek’s act became a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring, inciting demonstrations and riots throughout Tunisia in protest of social and political issues in the country.

What we can draw from these protests is that economical, social, and devastating civil conditions drove people to demonstrate and march against ruling regimes, and they all succeeded.

There is a new type of demonstration that is still yet to flourish, and that is the digital protest. There are in fact many online demonstrations and online petitions that were started 3-4 years ago, however the increasing use of social media and the uncontrollable glodigitization will soon become the kind of demonstrations that can’t be contained. And these protests will not only be country-focused, but it will eventually lead Generation 0110001001101001011011100110000101110010011110010010000001100011011011110110010001100101, or Generation Binary Code, to come together as citizens of the Earth, and will demand better unified economic, social and civil conditions at a global level.

Generation Binary Code will no longer be separated by geographical boundaries nor cultural differences. This generation will create a new world, a world where human beings share the same cultural values and similar reformation demands. A culture of a particular group of people is defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. And at the moment, Generation Binary Code is defining its own culture and its unified values.

If we are to examine the increasing use of social media networks around the globe, we could observe that 1 in 4 people are active users according to a new eMarketer report, “Worldwide Social Network Users. In addition, eMarketer also estimates that the number of social network users around the world will rise from 1.47 billion in 2012 to 1.73 billion this year, an 18% increase. By 2017, the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion.
A 2.5 billion social media users amount to nearly 30% of the Earth total population, and that number might continue to increase in the coming decade to reach a potential 50% of the earth inhabitants.
Generation Binary Code is increasingly influential, and will peacefully and electronically protest and will digitally fight against a global government that is driven by humachinery greed for more power and control.
Generation Binary Code will certainly take planet Earth to a new level, an unprecedented dimension. Generation Binary Code will bring back planet Earth to its predetermined goal, a planet for every human being.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hana Dawruk – It’s Now Your Turn


Hana Dawruk is a youth movement created by a small group of 20 something year olds in Doha, Qatar. The group is made up of a mix bag of people from different genders, backgrounds and careers or study paths. So what do we all have in common? We believe that it’s up to us (yup, that includes you too), to make a change in the world.

It might sound cheesy but it’s true. Through information and communication technology (ICT), we can do a lot for others who may be less fortunate than us. But we can’t do it alone.

How did we get started?

In early June, a group of eight ictQatar employees were asked to attend the BYND 2015 summit taking place in Costa Rica in September 9th- 11th, 2013.
Our group of eight has since grown to include youth from Qatar University, Qatar Foundation, and Silatech. 

BYND 2015 is a platform for young people to ensure their inclusion in the most important decisions of the 21st Century. The Global Youth Summit: BYND 2015 will assemble young people from all corners of the globe with a view to highlighting their priorities and capturing their combined voice in crucial national and international policy and decision making processes.

Pay it forward

As you can imagine we’re excited to be heading to BYND 2015 but this has become more than just summit, it’s a movement to create change using ICT.
I recently heard of the term “pay it forward”. If you haven’t heard of it before, initially it’s about giving back to people. Coming from a blessed lifestyle, it’s now our turn to pay it forward.

How to be part of movement

Visit the BYND 2015 website to learn more about the different categories that you can contribute to. 

If you have a great idea how ICT can make a difference, you can tweet/email/instagram or send us a blog post, or vlog (don’t feel like writing a blog? Easy send us a video of yourself explaining your idea) and we can work together to bring it to life (easy!).
Find us on Twitter at @HanaDawruk for regular updates.

p.s. Wishing you all  Eid Mubarak!