Arab Social Media Influencers Summit (ArabSMIS): Day 1 Roundup
March 18, 2015
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The event was organized under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The first ever Arab Social Media Influencers Summit opened yesterday at the Dubai World Trade Centre that saw famous local and international social media personalities go to the stage and talk anything and everything about social media.

DardaChat

DardaChat is one of the highlights of ArabSMIS. Speakers at the event included Ali Jaber, Director of MBC Group and Dean of Mohammed bin Rashid School of Communication and Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, journalist and expert on social media.

The talk tackled about how social media isn’t really a threat to traditional media. “Social media does not follow the process of verification that is so integral to news reporting. It is a loose discussion where users chat and offer personal opinions as opposed to news where research, verification and accountability are crucial before going public,” said Ali Jaber.

On the other hand, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin was on the opposing side, saying that social media has changed the way we see news. “During the events of the Arab Spring, we witnessed a perceptible shift in social media as it became the primary platform for people to connect and mobilise action and change,” he said.

Stand Out

Everyone is on one form of social media one way or another. Though only a few usually stand out when they want to promote something. Brandon Staunton, creator of the Humans of New York blog took to the stage at ArabSMIS and talked about how he launched one of the most popular blogs online and generate more than 15 million likes on its Facebook page.

“Nothing game-changing has ever been created by sitting around waiting on the perfect idea,” Staunton said. “Every idea goes through a thousand tiny evolutions, until finally it becomes something a little different from anything else.”

Staunton started his blog without any knowledge of photography. He set out to document everyday life of people in New York City. His original idea was to take images from random people but as he started his project, he started including quotes and short stores from the subject he was taking. This is how his blog got some attention. The images and stories from Staunton eventually led to a hard copy of his book – which is currently in the New York Times bestseller list now for over 30 weeks.

This and other stories were highlighted online. If you are willing to share something to everyone, make sure your idea stands out – else you will just fizzle out amongst all the snaps, tweets, likes and hashtags.

Social Media in the Arab World

It is without a doubt that social media is steadily grown here in the Middle East. Surveys revealed that Facebook and WhatsApp are the most popular social media networks in the region, with Twitter and Instagram a close second.

YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn completes the list of the most popular social media networks in the Middle East.

In the report, it said that two out of every five users in the Arab uses Facebook, with Jordan topping the list with 63 percent of respondents saying it is their preferred social network. For WhatsApp, Lebanon and Sudan preferred that network the most. Twitter was the lowest out of the list with only 4 percent of users preferring the platform.

ArabSMIS is the first of its kind event in the region. More than 38 speakers and influencers will be at the event primarily focused on the Arab community. The even concludes today at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

by Victor Philip Ortiz
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. Passionate for all things tech - you’ll normally find him tinkering with the latest gadgets and computer peripherals. He is an avid collector of Blu-ray discs and occasionally plays on his Xbox.
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