22 recent Internet and Technology developments
from - or relevant – to Qatar and the Middle East
Issue 3: August 2012
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About this Digital Digest
This digest aims to share some of the key digital developments from across the
Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in recent months.
It also highlights some global communications developments which may impact on
Qatar and the wider MENA region at a later date.
Stories of particular interest in this issue include new social media data from
the Dubai School of Government, use of the crowd to monitor the new
Egyptian Presidency, teaching children code and Google’s self-drive cars.
Visit: http://www.slideshare.net/ictQATAR/ for Volumes 1-2 and future digests.
The slides can be downloaded, shared, ripped or simply read at your leisure.
All content in these slides is in the public domain and referenced so that you can read the original sources.
Any omissions, errors or mistakes are mine, and mine alone.
Feedback, suggestions and comments are very welcome.
Digital Digest Contents, August 2012
1. Developments from across the MENA region
• New data on social media use in MENA
• The 100 Most Influential Arabs on Twitter
• Egypt’s citizens using the web to monitor Morsi
• In Brief: Social Media News
• In Brief: Content related news
• In Brief: Technology News
• Google, Social Media and Ramadan
2. Wider Internet & Society Research
• Research: 6 out of 10 people find technology stressful (US and UK)
• Youth: Code Clubs – teaching young children to code
• Emerging Technologies: Connected TV growth
• Internet Governance: Unexpected impact of online censorship
3. Coming Up – three emerging issues and themes
• Research: The rise and rise of Internet advertising
• Technology: Google’s self-drive cars
• Governance: New developments in Russia
Images: http://bit.ly/LCN5yC and http://bit.ly/LTzNud
1. Recent developments in the MENA region
Including: New Social Media data, Top 100 Arabs on Twitter and News in Brief
• The Dubai School of Government published new data about social media usage
in our region: http://bit.ly/OMWu3H
• In addition to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is included for the first time.
• On Digital Qatar, ictQATAR’s blog for technology enthusiasts, I outlined 10 key points
from the report. Read them here: http://bit.ly/OJbZZM
1.1 New data on social media use in MENA
1.2 The 100 Most Influential Arabs on Twitter
Earlier in the year Wamda, identified the Top 100
Most Influential Arabs on Twitter based on their
Klout score. Of this:
• 38% of the Top Tweeps are from KSA.
• Egypt comes in second with 30%.
• The media sector is the dominant profession with 62%.
Politics is secondat 16%.
• The majority of Top Tweeps are male, while only 14% of
the total list of 100 were female.
With thanks to @shusmo for highlighting this.
The Top 10 is below or grab a pdf of the full list.
1.3 Egypt’s citizens using the web to monitor Morsi
• Morsi Meter has been set up by a couple of young Egyptians to encourage
citizens to monitor the new Egyptian president. Their Facebook page says:
"The is an initiative to document and monitor the performance of the new Egyptian
president, Mohammed Morsi, and we will monitor what has been achieved from what
he had promised in his program during his first 100 days in power."
Susannah Vila, writing at
The Engine Room noted:
“Morsi Meter requires some
degree of crowdsourcing, and
significant staff time if it is to
work…. While there is huge
value in putting a spotlight on
campaign commitments, and in
citizen initiatives for government
accountability, there is a rub: it
will only work if citizens stay
vigilant and someone
maintains the initiative.”
Amr Sobhy, a 24-year-old
organizer with the group behind
the site, told CNN he had voted
for Morsi and added:
"We are a group of Egyptians who
don't belong to any political
ideology and, for the record, we are
not by any means political activists.“
"We are average Egyptian youths who
want to use whatever they do best to
bring about change in Egypt.“
The site is not about "criticism or
advocacy". "It's a portal of data.
People can use it later, as much as
they like, to form whatever opinions
they want to hold.” Read more: http://bit.ly/LyZfbg and http://bit.ly/NSVf3e
• Arabic is now the 6th most popular language on the Twitter, accounting for
2.8% of all tweets: http://tcrn.ch/QMdhVq
• The BBC reported that the Bahrain human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been
sentenced to three months in jail after prosecutors received complaints that he had
libeled residents of the town of Muharraq on Twitter: http://bbc.in/LYoUdB
1.4 In Brief: Social Media News
Time Magazine reported on the impact of social media in Saudi Arabia, noting that
KSA has more Twitter users than any other country in the MENA, at c.400,000 as well
as 4m people on Facebook, second only to Egypt. Mohammed al-Qahtani, a human-
rights activist in Riyadh and co-founder of the Saudi Civil & Political Rights Organization
told them: “Can you imagine going to the street corner and speaking to 10 people? The government
would round you up immediately, but now we are speaking out to thousands.”
Read more: http://ti.me/QPcZTt
As reported in my Digital Digest last month, Saudi Arabia is Twitter’s fastest-growing
market percentage-wise month on month: http://bit.ly/NmjXLy
Lebanese born Nadim Kobeissi has launched Cryptocat, an
open-source encrypted web chat client. The service “aims to offer
strongly encrypted, private Instant Messaging.” Wired noted: “It’s
…a web app that can save lives, subvert governments and frustrate
marketers. But as little as two years ago such a site was considered
to be likely impossible to code.” See: https://project.crypto.cat/
• WikiLeaks has
received 2.5m emails
which it has begun
• Founder Julian Assange
said: "The material is
embarrassing to Syria,
but it is also embarrassing
to Syria's opponents.“
• See the files:
1.5 In Brief: Content related news
• OSN Play, billed as “the region's first online TV
platform” is now available on the iPad:
• ‘Taghreedat’ is to offer Arab Twitter users their
own search engine: http://bit.ly/NmrkER
• The British Library is to put more than half a million
pages of historic documents detailing Arabic
history and culture online for the first time:
http://reut.rs/Nxiwuj Image: http://bit.ly/Nq6fGi
fund and startup
made its first
investment in the
Middle East — in
the local reviews
Image: http://bit.ly/Ts6iEo Story: http://tcrn.ch/Nq5NYN
• The Guardian ran a feature on Palestinian tech startups, noting that 2,500
Palestinians now work in the IT sector.
• The sector has grown from 0.8% of GDP in 2008 to 5% in 2010. It is still growing.
• The industry has seen a 64% increase in foreign business since 2009.
1.6 In Brief: Technology News
• The Internet was knocked offline
for several days in Lebanon in
early July due to damage to an
underwater cable, depriving the
whole country of access:
“Palestinian universities offer excellent technology courses that produce around 2,000
graduates a year, but the nascent market can only accommodate a few. The Palestinian
IT Association (Pita) estimates that at least half of these graduates are unemployed.”
• Google used a raft of social outlets to provide content related to Ramadan.
• Sharing prayers live from Mecca on a dedicated YouTube channel.
• A new YouTube Ramadan channel so viewers can watch special television
shows produced for the holiday and shown only during Ramadan.
1.7 Google, Social Media and Ramadan
• They also used their social network, Google+, to
host Google+ Hangouts, offering 30 virtual
get-togethers in the 30 days of Ramadan.
• In these celebrity chefs shared favorite recipes.
• And doctors gave tips on eating healthy.
“The hangouts will engage people in subjects far beyond
eating. Actors will talk about their favorite Ramadan
shows. Poets will discuss literature inspired by the
holiday. Religious figures will answer questions.”
From a post by: Maha Abouelenein, Google Head of
Communications , MENA
2. Internet & Society: Wider Research Update
Images: http://bit.ly/KXUeK6 and http://bit.ly/KL2OMQ
Tech Stress, Coding Clubs, Connected TVs and Unexpected Content Restrictions
2.1 Internet & Society: Societal Impact
60% of people in the US & UK
find Technology stressful,
according to a small scale survey
conducted in the UK and the US.
Respondents were mostly
younger people who perhaps
surprisingly had these concerns.
See the full infographic: http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/files/2012/07/tech-stress.jpeg
2.2 Internet & Society: Youth
• Code Clubs are a new volunteer led initiative aiming to teach the basics of
computer programming to UK schoolchildren aged 9-11. It aims to have
25% of the UK's primary schools running a Club by 2014.
• Lessons will use 12-week courses based on the Scratch curriculum.
"We're taught physics at school because our world is ruled by the laws of physics.
Now we are in a digital age it would be strange not to teach children how we
program computers to create the applications and tools we use everyday.”
Co-founder Clare Sutcliffe in an email to Wired.co.uk
• Scratch is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.
• It is available by free download from the Scratch website . Scratch has 1,180,988
registered members, 349,105 project creators, and 2,716,060 uploaded projects.
• Other similar initiatives include CoderDojo.
“In four short courses at the Coder Dojo, 9-year-old Tynan
Parker has learned how to build a web page and design a
computer game complete with his own personal touches.”
2.3 Internet & Society: Emerging Technologies
Connected TV growth continues
• In June, Istikana the Jordan-based startup announced a deal to offer over 30,000 hours
of online video content through Samsung Smart TVs.
• iDate predict the global market of services on connected TVs at €2.5 billion by 2016.
• Globally, Juniper Research forecast the number of residential TVs, connected to the
Internet via different platforms such as Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and consoles -
and also via built in wireless or Ethernet connectivity - will reach c.650 million by 2017.
• Currently, shipments and penetration are lowest in the MENA region.
Images: http://bit.ly/vK2od4 and http://bit.ly/Nq9zkX
• Canadian researchers have discovered that some internet users in Oman are
being subjected to Indian content restrictions because of traffic flowing
• Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, found
that sites affected included Indian and Pakistani entertainment sites, political blogs,
file-sharing websites, and IndyBay, a US based online news site (see above).
2.4 Internet Governance:
An unexpected impact of online censorship
As Citizen Lab observe:
“Users in Oman did not
consent to this blocking”
and this filtering “raises
a number of questions,
issues and the lack of
recourse available to
users in Oman.”
Images: http://bit.ly/9f4zqg, http://bit.ly/P9JoyE and http://bit.ly/PbwkfK
3. Coming Up – Three emerging themes and trends
Internet Rights & FreedomsInternet Advertising Self drive cars
The continued rise and rise of Internet advertising
• $8.4 billion was spent globally on Internet advertising in Q1 2012.
• The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in its bi-annual report showed Q1 2012 was
the biggest quarter for online ad revenues ever.
• Revenues are up $1.1 billion increase (a 15% rise) from last year.
“More online consumers than
ever are taking to the internet to
inform and navigate their daily
lives—by desktop, tablet or
“Marketers and agencies are
dollars to reach digitally
IAB President and CEO
3.1 Internet & Society: Societal Impact
3.2 Internet & Society: Emerging Technologies
Google self-driving car clocks up 300,000 miles. And no accidents.
• In 2010 Google revealed they were testing “automated cars [which] use video cameras,
radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which
we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead.” They have now
racked up 30,000 miles and are moving into the next phase of testing.
Ford also announced it envisions
a self-driving car by 2017 using
current generation technologies.
When announcing the project,
Google noted that:
“According to the World Health
Organization, more than 1.2 million
lives are lost every year in road traffic
accidents. We believe our technology
has the potential to cut that number,
perhaps by as much as half. Tomorrow."
Other potential benefits include
reduced energy consumption, being
able to concentrate on something
else when commuting, and usage
by the disabled or non-drivers.
2.4 Internet & Society: Internet Governance
New legislation in Russia
• A new law seeking to protect minors from Internet sites with harmful content has
come into force in Russia. Critics argued that it is a tool to increase censorship.
• Analysis by Andrei Soldatov argued the aim of the legislation is to take control of
Russia's social networks and prevent online political activism: http://bit.ly/NCSBjZ
• Protests included the Russian Wikipedia going dark for 24 hours: http://bit.ly/Nu3bd3
• LiveJournal, Russia’s largest blogging platform, also opposed the bill commenting:
“Lobbyists supporting the amendments argue that these amendments are directed only
against illegal or inappropriate content for children. However, the system of blocking
such content does not apply any appeals or procedures for reconsideration….
In practice this means that a provider will be able to block a certain site on
ministerial orders without a court's judgment. We believe that the amendments to
the law can lead to censorship in the Russian segment of the Internet, creating a
black list, stop-lists and blocking certain sites. Unfortunately, the practice of law in
Russia indicates a high probability of the worst-case scenario.”
Thank you for reading.
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Disclaimer: all content in these slides is in the public domain and referenced so that you can read the original
sources. Any omissions, errors or mistakes are mine, and mine alone.
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