From the ground up: The dynamism of social good in the MENA region
The possibilities are endless. This is what I learned on Thursday at the MENA Social Good Event at the Neuseum, which was hosted by Al-Mubadarah. I attended the event in my capacity as the Business Development Officer for the Peace and Collaborative Development Network, a network which is dedicated to connecting peacebuilders, conflict resolution practitioners and others interested in similar fields. With the goal of democratizing information and providing members with a plethora of resources to buttress their social change work, this event could not have fallen more in line with the work we promote on our platform.
The MENA Social Good Event featured many incredible initiatives that were targeted towards ending poverty, unemployment, increasing philanthropy, and reframing negative images of the Middle East. These initiatives point to the fact that this region is full of energy and talent and that change in the Middle East is being made through organic grassroots efforts. Moreover, each initiative offered a distinct and unique niche towards the goal of advancing good in the Middle East.
While all of the initiatives and ideas highlighted were incredibly powerful, a few in particular stood out. The first was BarakaBits, (Baraka means blessing in English) a website dedicated to showcasing positive news from the Middle East. BarakaBits has as its goal to reframe negative narratives from the Arab world and to provide cause for optimism for those living within and outside the region.
Another impressive initiative that was highlighted during the event was nabbesh.com, which exists as the sole platform for virtual job matching in the Middle East. With high rates of unemployment across the Middle East, a youth bulge, and most importantly, an immense amount of untapped talent, nabbesh.com, fills a much-needed gap in connecting employers to prospective employees that defy city and state boundaries. Nabbesh meaning “search” in Arabic provides a virtual platform where individuals can create profiles, list their skills set, and find opportunities and where employers can have access to individuals across the region with diverse sets of skills and talents.
Making information flow bi-directionally is one goal of Humanitarian Tracker, a platform that provides citizens journalists with the tools necessary to participate in both tracking humanitarian issues that rise in their region and in shaping narratives of events on the ground. One important project, launched by Humanitarian Tracker in 2011 is Syria Tracker. Through the collection of eyewitness reports and a variety of crowd sourced information, Syria Tracker has empowered Syrians to have a voice in their own story and to relay the complexities of the conflict from those on the ground.
This blog entry captures little of the amazing work that is being done all over and with the MENA region to advance social good. Far from being a region plagued only with problems, the MENA region is full of innovation, talent and a great sense of optimism. The MENA Social Good event succeeded in highlighting this while simultaneously promoting a counter-narrative that showcases the dynamism of the region.
Special thanks to the Al-Mubadarah team for putting this event together and for anyone who missed today’s event, I would definitely recommend checking out the list of speakers and their initiatives/organizations here. Also, be sure to participate in Al-Mubadarah’s #MyArabWorld Campaign by making and tweeting your commitment towards the creation of positive change in the MENA region.