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Middle East Digital Digest: August 2012


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My August round up for Digital Qatar of recent developments in the Internet and Tech space relevant to the Middle East. See: for context. Also available at:
Stories of particular interest in this issue include the Top 100 Arabs on Twitter, use of the crowd to monitor the new Egyptian Presidency, as well as initiatives to teach children code and Google’s self-drive cars.

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Middle East Digital Digest: August 2012

  1. 1. Digital Digest22 recent Internet and Technology developmentsfrom - or relevant – to Qatar and the Middle East Issue 3: August 2012 Damian Radcliffe Internet & Society Manager Email: Twitter: @mrdamian76
  2. 2. About this Digital DigestThis digest aims to share some of the key digital developments from across theMiddle East and North Africa (MENA) region in recent months.It also highlights some global communications developments which may impact onQatar and the wider MENA region at a later date.Stories of particular interest in this issue include new social media data fromthe Dubai School of Government, use of the crowd to monitor the newEgyptian Presidency, teaching children code and Google‘s self-drive cars.Visit: for Volumes 1-2 and future digests.The slides can be downloaded, shared, ripped or simply read at your leisure. -------------------------DisclaimerAll 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.
  3. 3. Digital Digest Contents, August 2012 Slides1. Developments from across the MENA region 4-11 • New data on social media use in MENA 5 • The 100 Most Influential Arabs on Twitter 6 • Egypt’s citizens using the web to monitor Morsi 7 • In Brief: Social Media News 8 • In Brief: Content related news 9 • In Brief: Technology News 10 • Google, Social Media and Ramadan 112. Wider Internet & Society Research 12-16 • Research: 6 out of 10 people find technology stressful (US and UK) 13 • Youth: Code Clubs – teaching young children to code 14 • Emerging Technologies: Connected TV growth 15 • Internet Governance: Unexpected impact of online censorship 163. Coming Up – three emerging issues and themes 17-20 • Research: The rise and rise of Internet advertising 18 • Technology: Google’s self-drive cars 19 • Governance: New developments in Russia 20
  4. 4. 1. Recent developments in the MENA regionIncluding: New Social Media data, Top 100 Arabs on Twitter and News in Brief Images: and
  5. 5. 1.1 New data on social media use in MENA• The Dubai School of Government published new data about social media usage in our region:• 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:
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. 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."Amr Sobhy, a 24-year-old See: http://morsimeter.comorganizer with the group behindthe site, told CNN he had voted Susannah Vila, writing at The Engine Room noted:for Morsi and added: “Morsi Meter requires some "We are a group of Egyptians who degree of crowdsourcing, and dont belong to any political crowdsourcing requires ideology and, for the record, we are significant staff time if it is tonot by any means political activists.― work…. While there is huge value in putting a spotlight on"We are average Egyptian youths who campaign commitments, and in want to use whatever they do best to citizen initiatives for government bring about change in Egypt.“ accountability, there is a rub: it will only work if citizens stay The site is not about "criticism or vigilant and someone advocacy". "Its a portal of data. maintains the initiative.‖ People can use it later, as much asthey like, to form whatever opinions they want to hold.‖ Read more: and
  8. 8. 1.4 In Brief: Social Media News• Arabic is now the 6th most popular language on the Twitter, accounting for 2.8% of all tweets:• 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: 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: 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: As reported in my Digital Digest last month, Saudi Arabia is Twitter‘s fastest-growing market percentage-wise month on month:
  9. 9. 1.5 In Brief: Content related newsVenture capital • WikiLeaks hasfund and startup received 2.5m emails from Syrianaccelerator 500 government officials,Startups has which it has begun releasing.made its firstinvestment in theMiddle East — in • Founder Julian Assange said: "The material isthe local reviews embarrassing to Syria,website Jeeran. but it is also embarrassing to Syrias opponents.“ Image: Story:• OSN Play, billed as ―the regions first online TV • See the files: platform” is now available on the iPad:• ‗Taghreedat‘ is to offer Arab Twitter users their own search engine:• 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: Image:
  10. 10. 1.6 In Brief: Technology News• 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. “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.” See: • 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: anon-internet/
  11. 11. 1.7 Google, Social Media and Ramadan• Google used a raft of social outlets to provide content related to Ramadan. This included: • 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.• 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
  12. 12. 2. Internet & Society: Wider Research UpdateTech Stress, Coding Clubs, Connected TVs and Unexpected Content Restrictions Images: and
  13. 13. 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:
  14. 14. 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 UKs primary schools running a Club by 2014. "Were 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• Lessons will use 12-week courses based on the Scratch curriculum.• 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.” Source:
  15. 15. 2.3 Internet & Society: Emerging TechnologiesConnected 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: and
  16. 16. 2.4 Internet Governance: An unexpected impact of online censorship• Canadian researchers have discovered that some internet users in Oman are being subjected to Indian content restrictions because of traffic flowing through India.• 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). As Citizen Lab observe: Image: ―Users in Oman did not consent to this blocking‖ and this filtering ―raises a number of questions, including jurisdictional issues and the lack of recourse available to users in Oman.‖ Data: Image:
  17. 17. 3. Coming Up – Three emerging themes and trendsInternet Advertising Self drive cars Internet Rights & Freedoms Images:, and
  18. 18. 3.1 Internet & Society: Societal ImpactThe 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 smartphone.‖ ―Marketers and agencies are clearly–and wisely–investing dollars to reach digitally connected consumers.‖ IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg Source:
  19. 19. 3.2 Internet & Society: Emerging TechnologiesGoogle 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. Image:
  20. 20. 2.4 Internet & Society: Internet GovernanceNew 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 Russias social networks and prevent online political activism:• Protests included the Russian Wikipedia going dark for 24 hours:• 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 courts 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.” See:
  21. 21. Thank you for reading. As always, please feel free to share these slides. You can email the link, tweet about specific stories or embed the full slides on your own site from:, suggestions and feedback for future digests are welcome. Damian Radcliffe, Internet & Society Manager Email: Twitter: @mrdamian76 Tel: +974 44993612