The Arab Techies Gathering in Cairo

28 Dec, 2008

The Arab techies gathering was 4 days workshop held in Cairo, Egypt – from 23-26 December 2008. ArabCrunch was present and demonstrated itself there.

This post is to sum up the workshop. written by Zeinab Samir a guest writer to ArabCrunch, Zeinab is an Egyptian Web designer who creates designs and themes for Drupal CMS. She also has a personal blog called Bent Masreya.

According to the organizers: “Artists, social workers and young intellectuals are resorting to information and communication venues in order to disseminate their work, gain wider reception and create more interaction. Despite the emergence of such highly connected communities of citizen journalists, cyber artists and digital activists, the techies who provide support and infrastructure to these communities, are still working in isolation, not really benefiting from this regional networking..”. So this workshop was a chance for the Arab techies to gather, talk and discuss common technical interests and concerns.

The first day of the workshop started with a session on citizen media, presented by Waleed Al Shobaky who made a comparison between traditional and citizen media and the role they play in the Arab world, he said because of censoring by Arab governments and because of the low number of journalist, citizen journalism has the chance to fill these gap from traditional arab media.    In the same session, Rashid Jankari presented the Moroccan experience in training professional journalists on using digital media.

Another session presented by M.S. Hjiouij who talked about Social networks. He said facebook will die for many reasons one of them is high cost of running with few returns and more spam and adds from people you do not know, he suggested that vertical social networks will thrive in the coming years.

After the first two sessions, some techies presented their projects such as:
Ali Abdulemam presented the Bahrain portal which is about to be launched.
Slim Amamou presented Markkit a javascript based tool to highlight text within websites.
– Zeinab Samir discussed the Web designers’ role in building web applications.
Hussain Yousif presented the Live Broadcasting Center (LBC) which is a leading project in online broadcasting services.
– Mohammad Al-Rehaili presented as an Arabic interface for twitter that displays text form right to left.

Sami Ben Gharbia started the third day with a session on digital activists and censorship. He talked about the various problems that digital activists face such as websites blockage, E-mail monitor and arresting. He also introduced an online guide titled “how to blog for a cause“.

On the same subject, Helmi Noman talked about censorship in the Arab world and it’s contribution to the digital divide. He also discussed the lack of transparency form the side of the governments in websites’ blockage.

The free sessions of the third day:
– Waheed Barghouthi discussed Rails mobile web applications presenting a code he wrote and then Alaa Abdel Fattah displayed a demo of hacking a Bluethooth or a 3G modem to send and receive SMSs.
Anas Tawileh presented Asterisk and VOIP.
– Waleed Al Shobaky talked about the lack of quality of online Arabic newspapers and opened a discussion about the Arabic fonts standardization.
– Mohammad Al-Rehaili talked bout the adopting e-commerce in the Arabic world highlighting the role of companies to take a step in convincing banks and the service providers. The discussion was followed by a short presentation on mobile payment and currency by Waheed Barghouthi.

The 4th and final day was dedicated to the Arabic content on the Web. Anas Tawileh presented the current situation of the Arabic content and the challenges facing the Arabic content such as the lack of researches about the Arabic language. Then he introduced Meedan the nonprofit company interested in Arabic content and linking it to the technology.

Bassem Jarkas presented Arabic Wikipedia in the next session. The Arabic wikipedia has more than 80.000 articles, yet this rank is still weak in comparison with the number of Arabic speakers around the world. The session was followed by a short introduction to the Arabic translation and localization of Creative Commons and Dublin Core by Ahmad Gharbia.

After a lunch on the Nile, Arab techies gathered to announce the end of the event and to evaluate it. Everyone was satisfied enough to repeat the workshop and attend the gathering with some suggestions for improvements.

The workshop was hosted by the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, Egypt.

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  1. Organizing The Web: Kanasha and Markkit | ArabCrunch  |  March 28th, 2009 at 9:14 PM #

    […] use another browser or PC your saved text won’t show up. Slim said he is considering in the last Arab Techies gathering in Cairo adding a sign- in option in order to offer you any where access to your web marks, but […]

  2. Arab Techies Announce the Release of 10 Open Source Projects to Improve the Arabic Web. | ArabCrunch  |  June 23rd, 2009 at 6:50 PM #

    […]  Egypt between 20  and 23 May 2009. (Read ArabCrunch coverage of the first ArabTechies gathering here. […]

  3. salim  |  July 28th, 2009 at 7:17 AM #

    Good work folks; the questions is whether it will last or not and if it sdoes, will there be a room for improvement and innovations.

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