Digital media as a voice of change.
Crowd-sourcing information on protests.
More than two-thirds of the population of the Middle East and North Africa are below the age of 25. In analysis after analysis, it is youth that have emerged as the drivers of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. At 25, Esra’a Al Shafei, the Bahraini founder of Mideast Youth, fits squarely within this narrative. Since 2006, her fledgling organization has sought to use digital media as a platform to amplify diverse and progressive voices advocating for change across the region.
Available in Arab, Farsi and English, Mideast Youth through its various projects offers a diverse public access to uncensored information with the aim of strengthening citizen voices and fostering a culture of transparency. Though initially launched as a simple group-blogging initiative, the organization has grown rapidly and spun off innovative projects like ‘CrowdVoice.org’ – a user-powered service tracking global voices of protest by crowd-sourcing information. According to El Shafei, CrowdVoice had an immediate impact ‘with thousands of users when the revolutionary protests began in Tunisia and Egypt’.
Other recent projects include ‘Ahwaa.org’ – a bilingual tool for LGBT youth that leverages game mechanics to facilitate high-quality interactions – and ‘MidEast Tunes’, which spotlights emerging artists using music as a tool for political expression and social change.
(Photo © Mideast Youth)