From Tahrir to taamir to taghyeer

From Tahrir to taamir through taghyeer

Posted on 05/07/2011

The World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ2011) was held in Doha Qatar from 27 to 29 of June 2011. I had the chance to share with the participants my thoughts about the role of social media in catalyzing the uprising and revolts in Middle East, as well as the uses of the same social media in the re-construction phase.

Using the metaphor of a journey from Tahrir (Liberation, and name of the largest square in Cairo), to Taamir (translated as to build), I showed some examples of the ways people used social media in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and other countries. Facebook was necessary but not sufficient, in my opinion. Facebook as a communication, networking, mobilizing, informing and organizing tool, not as a company. Then we analyzed the usage of social media for national debate, citizens’ consultation, discussion of the constitutional reforms, as well as mobilizing and engaging in social and political debates across Arab countries. Creating new opportunities is one of the benefits of social media in this renewing era. Creative industries like music, TV shows, movies, etc. are witnessing new generation of products and producers moving from the streets to YouTube (Sout El Horreya) , and even to TVs like Bassem Youssef Show.

The journey from Tahrir to Taamir should pass however by the Taghyeer (to change). If we dont understand how to change, we cannot reach Taamir and build on solid basis. To understand, more scientific research is needed on the changes happening in the Arab society and in the region as well as in other countries of Africa (SénégalY en a marre,Révolution Sénégalaise) and Asia (and not forgot Europe, although more economic reasons and lack of trust in Policy makers are behind the demonstrations in Spain and Greece).

Research should be done on the ways to improve citizens’ life, how to implement good  governments and good governance process. Research should address the ways to create more opportunities for all: individuals and enterprises, men and women, local and foreigners, how to improve their participation in the society on all level. In a country like Egypt, the debate about the date of the next elections and the whole roadmap towards a new democracy is somehow governed by the timing and readiness issues. Some political movements are arguing they are not ready to enter such a crucial elections in such a short period of time. Indeed, research should ask questions like the role of political parties, how to build new parties, how to involve and engage with citizens, how to collaborate, create alliance, negotiate agendas and  programs.

So, ICTs in general (including mobile telephony as access devises and services) and Social media in particular have a crucial transformative role in this period and journey going from Tahrir to Taamir through Taghyeer.

See SciDev Blog on the presentation, and this short video on YouTube. Ask me for the PowerPoint and notes.