Twitter Active Users in Arab World

Twitter Active Users in Arab World - English

Source 

No wonder activists like Aalam Wassef have quit Twitter as a wasteful diversion: penetration in a place like Egypt is only 0.26%. Much more important in the Gulf.

New stats on MENA internet users

Digital Marketing Statistics in the Middle East

Some interesting recent survey data (well, 2010-11) here — I find these stats pretty high though, are the skewed by the Gulf?

Update: Gabe writes in with this tip on sources of stats on MENA internet use: Insights MENA.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Why I did not buy www.arabist.net.eg

 

Really? A copy of my commercial registry and card taxation? Two months?

 

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Googling Egypt's candidates

Google's Egypt elections doodle

Friend-of-the-blog Gabriel Koehler-Derrick does some really neat stuff with Google to track prominent personalities in religious currents, politics, and society in the Middle East. In this commentary he sent us, Gabriel looks at Google as an alternative indication of the popularity (or interest in) the various candidates in the Egyptian presidential elections. A PDF version of this article, which includes graphs that are tricky to transpose to the web, is here (275kb).

With the approach of Egypt’s presidential elections on Wednesday, a variety of polls have been published trying to anticipate the outright winner, or at least identify which two candidates are capable of winning enough votes to force a runoff election.  Given the challenges associated with polling in Egypt, the historic nature of the election, and a confusing series of legal rulings that have dramatically shaken up the field of contestants, it is not surprising that the outcome remains unclear.  While far from perfect, data from internet search trends suggest a far less ambiguous outcome: Amr Moussa is comfortably in the lead and Muhammad Morsi is the candidate most likely to face him should there be a runoff. 

Anyone familiar with the telecommunications industry in Egypt might question the utility of using data derived from internet searches to better understand political developments.  While internet penetration rates have grown impressively, according to a recent survey conducted by A.C. Nielsen for Google’s MENA office, only about 39% of Egyptians have “regular access” (defined in the survey as logging in once a month) to the internet.  The data from the A.C. Nielsen survey also show that Egypt’s community of internet users are disproportionately male, and younger than average, with the 15 to 24 and 25 to 34 age cohorts being particularly well represented.  To the best of my knowledge, credible statistics about the income and education level of Egypt’s internet users are not publically available, but it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to presume that typical internet users are skewed towards urban areas, and better educated and significantly wealthier than national averages. Because of these challenges, data derived from internet searches cannot be considered statistically representative of the Egyptian population.  

Despite these drawbacks, internet search data enjoys a number of advantages for examining the presidential race.  First, the number of data points for any time period is huge.  A back of the envelope calculation, based on the Nielsen survey and some basic population data from the UN, suggests that in Egypt, Google gets almost 26 million searches a day. While only a tiny fraction of these searches are politically related, nine out of the “top 10 rising people” in Google’s 2011 Zeitgeist survey of Egypt’s search trends were connected to the revolution or politics more broadly, indicating just how influential political developments in 2011 were  on search trends in Egypt. By way of comparison, none of the “top 10 rising people searches” in Turkey has anything to do with politics, and only one of the “top 10 rising people searches” in Canada , former leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Jack Layton.  Data from Google AdWords, provides an updated 30-day average of the number of searches for a given term, shows some impressive averages for each of the top presidential contenders.  This is crucial because it provides a sense of scale for the Insights for Search data cited below, which uses normalized results not raw numbers to plot the trend lines for the various candidates.

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The internet and the canal

Voila Capture8

The above chart is from a very cool graph made by the Guardian showing major internet cables across the world. This highlights how Egypt, or to be more specific the Suez Canal, is one of the world's major choke points for data traffic between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. I remember a decade ago talking to Egyptian IT types about the potential for Egypt becoming a major data-caching hub (to make internet access between east and west faster by caching content so that data requests would only have to travel half the distance). Yet to my knowledge there are no major data centers in the canal zone — surely a missed opportunity.

For the next time your local dictator shuts down the internet

The most traffic this blog ever got was on January 28. Shortly after midnight, I posted that the internet had been shut down in Egypt. The news spread on technology sites like Slashdot and Reddit, eventually bringing down the site. I had internet because I was not in Cairo: I was in the middle of a reporting trip in Tunis, but was spending all my time after the curfew still in place then making calls to Cairo. I had landlines for friends, and quickly confirmed that at least three major ISPs had been simply shut off. It confirmed my gut feeling that something big was coming, and as I flew back to Cairo the next day what became an uprising had begun, defeating the police state.

I still feel that shutting down the internet (and mobile phones) was the key, pivotal tactical mistake of the Mubarak regime that pushed so many to join the protests. It took several days for the internet to be re-established, but in those few days a sense of urgency had been created, galvanizing the protestors' spirit and giving the whole Egyptian uprising story a new angle.

All of this was brought back to mind by this Wired story (via Boing Boing) about a State Department-funded project to quickly deploy, basically, the internet in a suitcase:

The idea is that the system will automatically set itself up. Drop a unit near another unit and they’ll start talking to one another and trading data. Add another and all three will talk to one another. Add a thousand and you can cover a whole city. Then if one of those routers is hooked up to an internet connection, everyone on the network can connect. If that connection disappears, users can still try to update an application like Twitter or send e-mail to the larger internet and the outgoing notes will go into a holding pattern until the mesh network finds another connection to the greater net.

In those early days, even a rapidly deployable intranet would have been useful — especially if you were able to use a Twitter-like service that was decentralized, working like P2P, and advertise services on it so they would be found automatically (like a central repository of some sort that would act as the intranet's home page). Even more useful would be a suitcase satellite internet, like a Bgan on steroids, that could immediately deploy wifi over a sizeable area and handle, say, 100 simultaneous users.  

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Hillary Clinton represents her people

The ravages of BB addiction.

I was initially surprised to see this story:

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will hold talks with the UAE over the ongoing BlackBerry dispute.

The United Arab Emirates has said it intends to prevent the phones sending e-mails, accessing the internet, and delivering instant messages.

Authorities are unhappy that they are unable to monitor such encrypted communications via the handsets.

Mrs Clinton said authorities had to balance "legitimate security concerns" with "right of free use and access".

"We are taking time to consult and analyse the full the range of interests and issues at stake, because we know that there is a legitimate security concern," Mrs Clinton said.

"But there is also a legitimate right of free use and access.

"So I think we will be pursuing both technical and expert discussions as we go forward," she added.

Why on earth would the Secretary of State of the United States of America, who surely has a busy agenda, spend her time talking to the UAE about their Blackberry ban? RIM, the makers of Blackberry, are Canadian, so it's not like she's representing American business interests (indeed, she should be pushing American iPhones on Emiratis instead.) It's not really a freedom of speech issue, since Emiratis can have access to other brands of phones that provide similar technology.

Then it hit me: Clinton is representing her real tribe, that secret cabal that runs the government, Washington Crackberry addicts. And the State Dept., which issues Blackberries (why aren't they buying American?!) to its employees partly because they come with all sorts of security options, also must have its thumb-typing protected. Anyone who's been to DC can relate that people there have the unnerving ability to pretend to be having a conversation with you while never taking their eyes off their tiny BB screens. It is one of the many charms of that wondrous city.

Umm Kulthoum on Google

Umm Kulthoum makes an appearance in the logo, at least on www.google.com.eg. Why today? Some say it's her birthday (4 May 1900 to be exact, although no one knows for sure.) If that's the case, she shares it with another important Egyptian: Hosni Mubarak. Happy 82nd, ya rayiss.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

SourceForge and Clinton's internet freedom speech

A few days ago Hillary Clinton made a major speech about internet freedom. She said:

On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. The words of the First Amendment to our Constitution are carved in 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the front of this building. And every generation of Americans has worked to protect the values etched in that stone. 

One step towards that would be to fix the various impediments the US puts on accessing data, including from Middle Eastern countries. Take SourceForge, one of the most important repositories of open-source software in the world, where developers collaborate on building all sorts of tools, including the kind that might facilitate evading internet censorship. It turns out that since early this month it's been blocked in various countries including Iran, Syria, Sudan as well as other places upon which Washington has imposed sanctions. 

Arab Crunch has a post by Abdelrahman Iblidi, a Syrian programmer, criticizing the legislation that forces SourceForge to ban users from these countries and others (Cuba, North Korea.) Syrian developers have had similar problems before with Google Code and other US-hosted sites. This example of internet censorship is particularly grating because open-source technology has often provided solutions to go around internet censorship and protect user privacy, such as Tor

[I was alerted to this issue thanks to a tweet by one of the Egyptian blogosphere's leading open-source advocate, Alaa].

Links for 11.16.09 to 11.18.09

ضغوط أمريكية لزيادة الغاز المصري لإسرائيل وخفض أسعاره - بوابة الشروق | al-Shurouk reports that US is asking Egypt to increase gas deliveries to Israel, and at cheaper price. ✪ US rebukes Israel on settlement plans - Yahoo! News | ... but will do nothing about it. ✪ Nubian fury at 'monkey' lyric of Arab pop star Haifa Wehbe | World news | The Guardian | The Haifa Wehbe / Nubian scandal. ✪ The Obama admin is selling the peace process, but the press is not buying it. | Phil Weiss has surreal transcript from State Dept. over new settlements. ✪ Readability - An Arc90 Lab Experiment | Very nice bookmarklet for reading long articles. ✪ Palestinians say they will ask UN to recognise state - Yahoo! News | Doesn't the UN already accept previous resolutions with the 1967 line? Regarding my previous comment on US senators' call for a veto, the Palestinians do appear to want to take it to UNSC, not UNGA. ✪ Le Figaro - Conjoncture : Le grand Monopoly mondial des terres agricoles | Nice chart accompanying this article on the sale of arable land to food importing nations. ✪ U.S. "would veto" Palestinian state move: Senators - Yahoo! News | I suspect recognition by the UN would take place by the General Assembly, not the Security Council, so that turncoat Lieberman can take his veto and shove it... ✪ The pro-Israel lobby in Britain: full text | openDemocracy | Report on UK Israel lobby by documentary filmmaker Peter Oborne. ✪ FT.com - Inflation rears its head again in Egypt | Mostly affecting food prices ahead of Eid. ✪ Egyptian Blogger Beaten | "During the mayhem of a major soccer match, Egyptian blogger Kareem el-Shae’r was kidnapped and beaten. El-Shae’r moderates the Free Egypt blog and is a member of Ayman Nour’s el-Ghad party and the April 6 Youth movement. For his activism, el-Shae’r has been arrested several times and beaten before. The Egyptian interior ministry refused to comment on the incident." ✪ Gaddafi hires 200 young Italian women – to convert them to Islam | And tries to convert them to Islam. ✪ Israel must end Gaza blockade, evictions, alleged abuse of Palestinian children - Ban | "Israel should end the blockade of Gaza, cease evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes, and ensure that the rights of children are respected and that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment are promptly investigated and perpetrators prosecuted, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an annual report released today." ✪ Yemen Finds Dreamland of Architecture - NYTimes.com | On Yemen's traditional architecture. ✪ The Arabs by Eugene Rogan | Book review | The Guardian | Robert Irwin reviews this book, which I am currently reading.
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Links for 11.07.09 to 11.09.09

Israeli Asks Abbas Not to Step Down - NYTimes.com | What a weird headline: the Israeli in question is the president of Israel, Shimon Peres (aka Skeletor, Evil Lord of Destruction). Not that knowing this makes the whole thing any less weird, although it is telling to see how much the Israelis like Abbas.

Fatah al-Islam Connected to Israeli Elements- Lebanese Security Source Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | Really: Fatah al-Islam, connected to the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Americans, the Saudis and now the Israelis. I am beginning to wonder whether it even exists.

The Dark Side of the Bright Side -- In These Times | I love Barbara Ehrenreich's books.

The Associated Press: Islamic critics blast Beyonce on eve of Egypt show | Muslim Brothers attack "nudity concert".

23 CIA Officers Convicted in Italy, in Abstentia | For extraordinary rendition of Egyptian man.

Middle East Bloggers: The Street Leads Online - Reports - Committee to Protect Journalists | CPJ report on bloggers in MENA, especially the rising use of emprisonment against them: "Individual bloggers face enormous threats; the medium as a whole faces significant challenges. Increasingly, governments are creating new laws to regulate the Internet and amending old ones to encompass online expression. Already authorities are exploiting the isolated nature of bloggers and the lack of institutional protections for online journalists. As the Iranian regime exhibited this year, governments are willing to take severe measures when they perceive a threat to their power."

Holiday sales could launch e-book readers as mass-market must-haves | If you're interested in ebooks, this is a pretty good piece on the state of the industry. Has anyone tried Kindle downloading in Egypt? Is it restricted?

Japanese contractors owed billions by Dubai firms - The National Newspaper | Dubai is a bad debtor.

Waq al-Waq: The Big Question for Saudi Arabia | Who runs Saudi Arabia's Yemen policy?

Obama's Failure in the Middle East | Stephen M. Walt | KA-POW: "I never thought I'd write the following words, but is it possible that Obama's handling of the I-P peace process might actually end up being worse than George Bush's?"

Berman’s Response to Goldstone on House Gaza War-Crimes Resolution « The Washington Independent | The assholes who run Congress reply to Goldstone.

Report: Mossad hacked Syrian computer to uncover nuke site - Haaretz - Israel News | Basic snooping software found super-classified info? Either this is not true or the Syrians are mega-stupid. But since the allegation is that Syria had a secret nuclear research facility, I'll lean towards the former - this was all bullshit from the beginning.

ATTACKERMAN » Somewhere, Khaled Meshal Is Laughing | Obama messed up doubly with Goldstone as well as backing down on settlements. What's a Palestinian leader (any of them outside Hamas) to do?

Lebanese opposition agrees to govt line-up: Hezbollah

(AFP) | Cabinet crisis over?

Clinton has 'productive meeting' with Egypt on Mideast peace process - washingtonpost.com | Hosni Mubarak loves nothing more than being made to feel important. Clinton's entire trip to Cairo is about this: "Clinton attributed the apparent softening in Egypt's position as a response to her personal diplomacy, conducted over visits to four capitals in the region over the past five days. "I thought it was a very productive meeting," she told reporters traveling with her after the news conference, adding that it "shows the value of consultation and listening and sharing ideas and hearing the other side and putting forward your views and explaining.""

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Links for 10.29.09 to 10.31.09

Daily News Egypt - In Focus: The Brotherhood Crisis | Khalil al-Anani's take on the Brothers' troubles. ✪ Frontlines: Who will be the next leader of Egypt? | Front Lines - the week that was | Jerusalem Post | Funny how much traction Amr Moussa's comments have made in Israel, where they remember vividly his criticism of Israel. ✪ Is this the man to follow Mubarak as Egypt's next president? | World news | guardian.co.uk | On Amr Moussa. ✪ Powerful Islamic movement sees leadership struggle | On MB's woes. ✪ War and Peace | New blog from Rob of Arabic Media Shack, focusing on war, history and strategy. ✪ Lesson Unlearned | Foreign Policy | Nir Rosen says the 1983 attacks on Us Marines in Beirut was the fault of senior Reagan officials who intervened in Lebanon's civil war on the side of Christian militias. ✪ A Witness In Palestine | Anna Baltzer, Jewish-American pro-peace activist. ✪ A search engine with a mind on settlements | Antony Loewenstein | I'm switching to Bing, and I hate Microsoft: "Jewish Billionaire, Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google, donated $1 million to the so-called Hebrew national Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) which heavily encourages Jews around the world to immigrate to Israel and the United States. The organization is one of the biggest supporters of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories." ✪ In Afghan Village, French Outreach Yields an Ambush - WSJ.com | On French Foreign legion in Afghanistan: "Some Legionnaires, like a pensive Italian art history graduate, had enlisted for adventure. Others, like a thin Estonian, signed up to escape potentially lethal problems at home. The Legion wipes out minor criminal records and provides new identities and a French passport in exchange for a five-year contract. "Believe me, I feel safer here in Afghanistan," the Estonian said." ✪ Alaa Al-Aswany: When women are sinners in the eyes of extremists - Commentators, Opinion - The Independent | On Somalia and extremism, among other things. ✪ BBC NEWS | Technology | Egypt seeks ethical mobile users | Code says "don't annoy people by having loud conversations", "choose non-annoying ringtone", etc. Akhiran! Wonder if it says, "Don't sit at qahwa trying different ringtones for an hour" or "Answer phone quickly or put it on silent rather than stare at it for 10 rings". ✪ Squaring the circle and erasing the margins | Good commentary on the recent J Street conference. ✪ YouTube - ‫لقاء اليوم - ريتشارد غولدستون‬‎ | Khaled Daoud interviews Richard Goldstone on al-Jazeera. ✪ Lebanon: Israel arranged Katyusha fire to keep tensions high - Haaretz - Israel News | Suleiman was praised by West before, will he be listened to now: "Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Thursday suggested that Israel had arranged for collaborators in his country to fire Katyusha rockets at the Galilee earlier this week, in a bid to keep tensions high in the area." ✪ 'Israel's Self-Described Greatest Concern' - Jeffrey Goldberg | More poisonous Jeffrey Goldberg: anti-Zionist Jews are not real jews, they're anti-Zionists with Jewish parents; the Leveretts are apologists for Tehran. No sense of irony here about Golberg's sycophancy towards Bibi Netanyahu here. ✪ West Bank land belongs to Jews, says Israeli army judge | These people are insane: ""But over the past quarter of a century, the Israeli army lawyer and then military judge at the forefront of arguably the most significant battle in the occupied West Bank – the confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction of Jewish settlements – has come to see himself as in service of a higher duty. In an unusually frank interview, which offers insights into the melding of religion, politics and law that underpins land seizures in the occupied territories, Agassi has laid out his belief that Israel has a biblical claim to territory beyond its borders and that he, even as an immigrant, has a right to live on it when those born there do not. `When we [Israelis] say that this is a political conflict, then we lose the battle,` he told the Guardian, adding that it should be remembered that the ancient land of Israel is `given to us by the Bible, not by some United Nations`. ✪ Tens of Thousands of Palestinian Children at Risk of Forced Displacement in OPT | "Whilst most attention has focused on home demolitions and community evictions, new research by the children`s charity Save The Children has revealed intolerable living conditions are driving families to abandon their land and homes, even though most will be worse off once they do so."
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Links for 10.13.09

Essay - The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate - NYTimes.com | Speaking of the Large Hadron Collider, this is pretty cool. ✪ BBC NEWS | Europe | 'Al-Qaeda-link' Cern worker held | Terrorist attack of potentially cosmic proportions: "The suspect had been working on the LHC Beauty (LHCb) experiment, which is investigating the slight differences between matter and anti-matter by studying a type of particle called the "beauty quark"." ✪ Kurdistan Halts Oil Exports - NYTimes.com | Over payment dispute with central government. ✪ AFP: Hamas claims member tortured to death in Egypt jail | In other words, a Hamas member is treated like an Egyptian. ✪ Erotic Poet Cavafy’s Trace Fades in Egypt’s Mythic Alexandria - Bloomberg.com | The usual nostalgia for cosmopolitan Alexandria. Do visit the Cavafy museum when in Alex, though. ✪ Loonwatch.com - "The Mooslims, they're heeere!" | A newish website that tracks Islamophobia, with a particular lookout for the kind of people who write for Middle East Forum and other reflexively anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sites. ✪ Middle East: a Belgian solution? | Khaled Diab | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk | This is a funny, surreal headline but Khaled Diab is very misinformed about Belgian politics: the Belgian model is not pragmatic compromise, but rather wasteful deadlock. ✪ Ben Barka: Le dossier secret de la gendarmerie - affaire ben barka - leJDD.fr | Ben Barka's body said to have been incinerated outside of Paris. ✪ Tariq Ali: Ahmed Rashid's War | Nasty attack on Ahmed Rashid by Tariq Ali. Don't know if any of this is true, but Ali alleged Rashid operates on behalf of Hamid Karzai. ✪ Middle East News | Egypt detains 24 Muslim Brotherhood members | More zero-tolerance in Egypt towards people protesting in solidarity with Palestinians. ✪ Algerian Islamists in the Era of Reconciliation « The Moor Next Door | On the Algerian branch of the Muslim Brothers, and their relationship with the regime. ✪ New Statesman - Textbook injustice in Gaza | Gazan children go back to school with few textbooks, and anything else for that matter. ✪ FT.com / UK - Airline flies on natural gas | Qatar experiments with natural gas-derived kerosene, which makes sense for the country with the world's biggest gas fields. ✪ Netanyahu: No war crimes trials for Israelis - Yahoo! News | One day there will be many trials ya Bibi... and until then Israeli officials will be less and less able to travel abroad. ✪ Palestinian Memo says Hopes in Obama 'Evaporated' Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | "JERUSALEM, (AP) – An internal document circulated among members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' political party says all hopes placed in the Obama administration "have evaporated" because of alleged White House backtracking on key issues to the Palestinians."
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Links for 07.02.09 to 07.04.09

ANALYSIS / Loud-mouthed rabbi reflects IDF's religious bent - Haaretz - Israel News | Article on Brigadier General Avichai Ronski, the Israeli Army's chief rabbi. Interesting tidbits on how he brought the influence of settlers and religious right, was recruited by Dan Halutz to "bring the IDF closer to the sectors of the public that opposed the Gaza disengadgement." Egypt: See no strikes, hear no strikes, report no strikes | Menassat | Joe Mayton on how journalists are prevented from covering strikes in Egypt. What's the point of learning to type in Arabic | Bint Battuta of Bahrain on Microsoft's new Maren software, which allows you to type Arabic in Roman characters and have them converted on the fly (like Yamli but as part of OS.) She takes issue with the assumption that Arab users don't want to learn how to type with an Arabic keyboard. Daily News Egypt - On The Inheritance Of Power In Egypt | Osama El-Ghazali Harb, prominent Egyptian political scientist and former Gamal recruit to Policies Committee before he left in a huff, on inheritance of power and Gamal's schemes won't work. Amos Elon (1926–2009) - The New York Review of Books | Tony Judt on the Israeli writer. OPT: Gaza-Egypt crossing to open three days a month | Hamas, PA and Egypt agree to allow 3 days a month and move towards 2005 AMA; article details continuing difficulties for those making the crossing.
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Links for 06.30.09 to 07.01.09

Arab Techies in Business | More Arab geekery. Arab Techies | Cool Arabic tech/web projects. Love in KSA « Saudiwoman’s Weblog | On the importance of women's reputation in Saudi. "Politics, culture, and dissident:" New study maps out trends in Arab blogosphere | Menassat | Cool map of the Arab blogosphere, divided by country, language, and political trends. Saudia Arabia leads Arab regimes in internet censorship | World news | guardian.co.uk | Saudi, UAE, Syria and Tunisia top the list. Syria Comment » Archives » Apologies to Howard Schweber and Barak’s Settlement Shuffle | Josh Landis has some good links on the US-Israel settlements face-off here. As well as on the question of the impact of Iran's political crisis on Syria.
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Web 2.0 silliness

Unlike Hossam, I am slightly skeptical about Web 2.0 social software technology. It's true activists in Egypt and elsewhere have made good use of Twitter and Jaiku to update each other about demonstrations and such, but I can't quite shake off the feeling that over time using these things too much reduces your brain to mush. I've already given up on Facebook, never found Doppler very useful, haven't used LinkedIn in months, and only keep up to date with Jaiku because Hossam forced it upon me, although I don't really post myself (in any case it would be along the lines of "having sardine and toasted cheese sandwich LOL!" I'd rather spare people.) But yesterday someone registered a State Security account on Twitter, and this morning I received this:
Hi, arabist (arabist). Habib El-Adly (ElAdly) is now following your updates on Twitter. Check out Habib El-Adly's profile here: http://twitter.com/ElAdly
Habib al-Adly, of course, is Egypt's interior minister.

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Don't be evil, work for Google

A recruiter from Google has written to send the following job ad-- they're hiring software engineers and more who have fluent Arabic. The whole job listing is after the jump for those interested -- good luck to those who'd apply, and if you get in please tell Google to allow filtering of Israeli ads in Adsense (I've had a long correspondence with them over this issue.) Oh, and that whole China thing. Dear friends at the Arabist, I hope you are all doing well. I am assuming that many people within your network, keep eyes and ears open to exceptional opportunities. I am sure that they would appreciate knowing about opportunities with Google located in the Middle East. Currently looking to fill the following Google Software Engineering Arabic Fluent Middle East positions : Engineering Site Director (Arabic Fluent) – Middle East Software Product Managers (Arabic Fluent) - Middle East Experienced Software Engineers (Arabic Fluent) - Middle East Software Engineering Technical Leads/ Managers (Arabic Fluent) - Middle East Do not hesitate to post or share these job announcements below with your HFAA professional network and community of recipients and alumni worldwide and also with anyone or any group that could be interested. Also, any referrals of specific individuals would also be most appreciated. Anyone interested, please email a chronological resume to: nabilk@google.com Thank you in advance, Nabil Nabil Khatib Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043, USA nabilk@google.com ========================= Google Engineering Site Director (Arabic Fluent) – Middle East Google is looking for a highly technical, hands-on Engineering Site Director to drive Product and Technology initiatives for the Middle East/Arab World. As the most senior engineer for Google in the region, the Engineering Site Director will be the face for Google's engineering effort in the Arab World. The Engineering Site Director will be responsible for the overall planning, execution and success of projects with both regional and global impact. In addition to leading the engineering team or teams in the Arab markets, the Engineering Site Director will work closely with Google's senior management team, as well as local officials, universities and professional organizations. Please note that engineering management at Google is technical, i.e., candidates are expected to have a strong track record of technical accomplishments in addition to management accomplishments. Consequently a candidate must posses a strong and broad background in most aspects of Computer Science. Candidates will be asked technical questions during your interviews. Requirements: At least 10+ years of exceptional technical competence and accomplishment with a strong product development track record and continuing and enduring technical leadership throughout career Software background and large scale success developing web-based applications, ideally launched in the Arab market Entrepreneurial drive plus demonstrated ability to achieve goals in an innovative environment Relevant experience as hands-on manager of a large fast-paced dynamic engineering team Solid leadership skills and success in building a strong engineering team Strong project-management skills and proven history in product delivery Ability to operate and thrive in the face of ambiguity Can fit in well within an informal startup environment and quickly establish credibility with very capable engineers MS in Computer Science/Computer Engineering or PhD (preferred) Please email a chronological resume to Nabil Khatib nabilk@google.com Do not hesitate to share with anyone or any group that could be interested. ============================== Software Product Managers (Arabic Fluent) - Middle East One of the many reasons Google consistently brings innovative, world-changing products to market is because of the collaborative work we do in Product Management. With eyes focused squarely on the future, our team works closely with creative and prolific engineers to help design and develop technologies that improve access to the world's information. We're responsible for guiding products throughout the execution cycle, focusing specifically on analysing, positioning, packaging, promoting and tailoring our solutions to all the markets where Google does business. As a Product Manager at Google, you bridge the needs of our customers (users, advertisers and partners) and the creativity of our engineering teams. You combine outstanding product vision with the hands-on skills to work with engineers and deliver new products and features quickly to markets across Africa. Google Product Managers come from a wide range of backgrounds: many have successfully run their own software/web companies whilst others have delivered successful products for large software companies. They all combine a great instinct for developing compelling products with a strong academic background and technical aptitude to work with a world class engineering team and the business sense to drive local product goals and strategies. Responsibilities: Launch products Identify market opportunities and define product vision and strategy Understand customer needs and gather product requirements Develop new products and enhance existing products Engage closely with the engineering team to help determine the best technical implementation methods as well as a reasonable execution schedule Requirements: Computer Science degree. Masters or PhD preferred MBA degree highly regarded End to end Product Management experience of software / web technologies Hands-on developing Internet products and technologies Entrepreneurial drive with appreciation of user-experience, business, and commercial issues Understanding of the Internet, Search Engine, and On-Line Advertising spaces Please email a chronological resume to Nabil Khatib nabilk@google.com Do not hesitate to share with anyone or any group that could be interested. ============================== Experienced Software Engineers (Arabic Fluent) - Middle East Software Engineering Technical Leads/ Managers (Arabic Fluent) - Middle East Software Engineering positions require a significant work history, experience developing web-based applications, expertise in data structures, algorithms, and complexity analysis, fluency in one or more of C, C++, Java, fluency in one of more of Shell, PHP, Perl or Python, solid working knowledge of Unix, preferably Linux, SQL and MySQL are a plus. Applicants must have BA/BS in Computer Science, MS or PhD (a plus). These positions require exceptional programming skills, excellent algorithmic and analytical skills, and a strong aptitude for building high-performance, scalable computer systems. Our recent work encompasses a broad spectrum of computer science research areas, including: Large scale distributed systems design, Information retrieval, Natural language processing, machine learning and data mining, algorithms and data structures research and user interface research. To get a clearer idea about experience, please briefly reply to these questions and email back with your chronological resume: What are your strongest areas of expertise and interest? What are your preferred programming languages? Please rate yourself in them as (beginner, intermediate or advanced). If working, how much programming do you typically do during a week in your last 2 jobs? Please indicate in percentage (%) form. Please briefly describe your experience and knowledge of the technology market in the Arab World. Please email a chronological resume to Nabil Khatib nabilk@google.com Do not hesitate to share with anyone or any group that could be interested. Nabil Khatib Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043, USA nabilk@google.com
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Links for January 6th

Automatically posted links for January 6th:

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Some thoughts on the YouTube ban

The Guardian's Brian Whitaker has highlighted YouTube's decision to block the Egypt torture videos page, which we recently covered. In his post Brian says points how this removes a crucial tool at the hands of bloggers to distribute and publicize cases of human rights abuses and build a campaign against Egypt's systematic use of torture. Reading the comments on the post, there is legitimate discussion that footage of gratuitous violence violates YouTube's terms of use and that it may not be the most appropriate place for these videos for other reasons (since most of its content is essentially funny home videos). Fair enough. Some people suggested that rights groups should be hosting the videos, which seems like a good idea (although it might limit their reach, since way more people visit youtube.com than amnesty.org). That's a good idea too, except that rights groups, even the big ones, don't really have the kind of technology necessary to handle traffic spikes and maintain video databases (which I assume means buying license rights to various software, codecs, etc.) So here's an idea: why not encourage YouTube, Google Video and others to provide their expertise to maintain servers for activists, separately from their commercial products if necessary? This would be a great vote of confidence in web companies, especially after the fiasco of Yahoo and Google selling out to China in recent years. Don't want their names on it? Fine. But they have technology and resources that have radically transformed the away activists can break news and mobilize international interest. So rather than sticking to just "don't be evil," how about some "be good"?
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