Often when we hear about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), news is dominated by talk of political and social turbulence which may push corporations, institutions and individuals away from considering investment and engagement. But the Arab world is also home to more than 350 million people and has a diaspora of 14 million people. According to the World Bank, in 2009 Arab countries received a total of $35.1 billion in remittances. And in Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East, Christopher Schroeder writes:
While the Middle East lags other regions in Internet penetration, the number of Internet users in Arab countries has been growing faster (23 percent annually versus a global 14 percent), and the total is expected to exceed 140 million next year. Those who are online tell a remarkable story of change over the past five years, with clear ramifications for the future. Eighty-three percent use the Internet daily, and half of those for at least five hours a day. Notably, 78 percent said they prefer the Internet to television, and 44 percent say they spend less time meeting friends face-to-face than online or on their mobile devices.
Innovation and entrepreneurship has opened doors to partnerships and positive engagement in MENA in the past years. Social media is playing a large role in mobilizing people to aid in development in the region in areas of crowd funding, volunteerism and social engagement.
MENA+SocialGood is dedicated to exploring this nexus and identifying how technology can enable engagement to catalyze positive impact in MENA. The inaugural Summit will be a gathering of social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, technology developers, NGOs, governments, thought leaders, and others vested in this space. This global conversation aims to spark collaborations, foster innovation, and promote partnerships and constructive conversations that develop far beyond the Summit itself.
+SocialGood unites a global community of innovators around a shared vision: The power of technology and new media to make the world a better place. This is a community of connectors, bringing together ideas and action in our social media era. The +SocialGood engagement platform provides a space for a truly global conversation to take shape—a place where connectors can collaborate, share best practices, influence local and global agendas, and find new ways to translate their vision into action.
The Summit integrates diverse partners and global communities using web based technologies for conversations about social and economic development in the Middle East and North Africa. It will focus on three major themes: knowledge transfer/capacity building, access to resources, and innovative philanthropy. MENA+SocialGood will be framed as a “how to” conversation, as we want the outcome to be impactful and have ‘take-aways’ for participants.
To learn more about the 2014 Mena+Social Good Summit, visit their website.
About the Author: Hazami Barmada is the President & CEO of Al-Mubadarah International. She is a social entrepreneur and international affairs professional. Barmada consults with public and private institutions providing technical assistance on business development, strategy, programming, management, and institutional affairs. Recent clients have included ARAMCO Services, Royal Opera House Muscat Oman, and Object Design. She has is a frequent public speaker and commentator on current affairs appearing on CNN international, BBC, Saudi TV, Alhurra, Al Jazeera, and VOA.
The contents of this blog are the sole responsibility of the author and its ideas and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of International diaspora Engagement Alliance, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, Calvert Foundation, or any of their partners.