I am going to attend Open Sesame Barcamp next saturday in Beirut. The Barcamp is organised by the very cool Rootspace created and managed by Dave Munir Nabti, a SF-Lebanese super active and bright mind.
Creative Commons is supporting it and we hope to find smart people, community and lawyers who would like to work with us to open a project in Lebanon.
You can have a look at the programme and register on the wiki or on site. Looking forward to meeting those of you who are in Beirut!
Two days ago, while zapping on Arab TV channels, I saw a very curious reportage broadcasted on Al Jazeera. Ghassan Bin Geddu, Beirut bureau chief of Al Jazeera Tv channel and host of the flagship talk show Hiwar Maftouh (Open dialogue), sitting in the countryside with Hamas people, masked and armed, talking about Gaza, resistance, war. The interview set -the countryside, peaceful, among olive trees- looked almost “surrealistic” if compared to the contents of the speech and, most of all, to the “outfits” of the people -kind of guerilla style-. Once again, Ghassan Bin Geddu -who is a very popular character in Al Jazeera– has made a “journalistic scoop” by interviewing those Hamas people, which adds to the many others he did in the past (and can increase his reputation of being “close” to Islamist movements). The reportage looked as a masterpiece in terms of setting, birds singing and nature flourishing and those masked men with guys. I wish I had a copy and could listen to it all! And still wonder why no Western media (TV or press) is talking about those kind of stuff or analysing it…
Jordan seems to be once more the new emerging “place to be” in the Arab world in terms of new technologies.
The event organised on next 23rd february in Amman by Arabcrunch and Dart looks really a “must go”.
Arab Crunch Demo is an open stage for promising new tech companies and start ups all across the Arab world to pitch their ideas in front of fellow entrepreneurs, CEOs, venture capitalists, IT professionals, IT students, media, and early tech adopters.
For this first exciting demo the organisers have selected3 startups from Egypt:
- weNear: Mobile location based framework.
- Adhere: the first mobile open source server.
- Al-Khawarizmy: Beyond the words Arabic embedded Search.
2 Startups from Jordan:
- Ishki: The Arab complaints web 2.0 vortal.
- MailPacks: SaaS Auto responder.
and 3 keynote speakers coming from all around the world (have a look at their bios)
- Herve Cuviliez: Managing Director, KuvCapital.
- Khaled Jabasini: Founder and CEO, E-Marketing MENA.
- Sumaya Kazi Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief at The CulturalConnect, Senior Social Media Manager at Sun Microsystems.
Among the sponsors of the event, Ikbis the “You Tube” Arab style, Maktoob one of the most popular online community in the Arab world and Mashable the world famous blog focused on web 2.0.
The organisers of this really cool and brand new event are Dart, the student’s entrepreneurship society of Queen Rania Center for Enterpreneurship in Amman; and Arabcrunch, Gaith Saqer’s brilliant professional blog dedicated to profiling and reviewing Arab originated technology startups and existing Internet and mobile companies, and their products and services. Arabcrunch carries really interesting articles and reviews on Arab startups, together with updates with news and event like the Jordan Twestival or Twitter festival.
Mabrouk to Gaith for this cool iniative! Once more, this proves that new generations in the Arab world are very active and willing to experiment new creative ideas. As for us in the Western media, we should really try to have a better look into this vibrant reality of people doing cool things, instead of always focusing on wars, terror and alleged backwardness coming from the Region.
A good news for the open source scene. Two great events are running -or going to run- this month in the Arab region. The first one it’s called the iFoss09 and it’s currently going on in Damascus, Syria at the SCS Center, Tishreen Park in Omaween Square. The programme is rich in events and as far as I know this is the first time that such topics are debated for the entire week and in such an institutional place. There is a growing interest in Syria for the open source related topics and a very active community made up of very young people that have a great enthusiasm over those issues. Ziad Maraqa, Creative Commons’ lead in Jordan, talked yesterday about the latest developments of CC in the Arab region, mentioning also the recent launch of the Al Jazeera Creative Commons repository which is generating lots of interesting debates all across the web. Watch out the Computer Science in Syria’s website http://www.csc-sy.net for future developments of this very interesting syrian techy community.
As for neighbouring Lebanon, Beirut is going to host Open Sesame, the first ever Arab barcamp on feb. 28th (the place is still in discussion but most probably will the very cool Rootspace of Dave Munir Nabti). Lots of interesting topics have been proposed like the “arabization of the web”, which is a core issue to be debated in the Arab world. The critical mass of Arabic content on the web is still very underdeveloped if you think about the great potential reach of the Arabic language (spoken by more than 300 millions people) and of a population which is made up mostly by youngsters. This young energy has to be “exploited” by the Arab people and it has to be turned in content creation and innovation over the Internet.
The Arab region has been -and, unfortunately, it is still- covered mostly in terms of conflicts, wars, violence, while there is much more going on. We have to encourage and support such events and all the energy coming out from them if we really want to change the Arab world and its bad -and wrong- image in front of the rest of the world.
Please, do join the organisation of the Open Sesame Barcamp, do propose topics and do come to Beirut on the 28th of feb. It will be a lot of fun and a lot of interesting issues will be debated by a young and vibrant Arab community.