Mideast Youth

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Mideast Youth is a regional not-for-profit organization focused on amplifying voices of dissent throughout the Middle East and North Africa via digital media. Founded in Bahrain, the organization "creates platforms and web applications that promote freedom of expression and social justice."<ref>Mideast Youth About Page.</ref>

The network's activity is driven by the passion for civil engagement, freedom of speech, tolerance, supporting religious and ethnic minorities, raising awareness, and employing innovative solutions to these pervasive and persistent problems due to censored media, thus breaking the boundaries between the MENA nations and giving room for critical free thinking and exchange of information between people via the internet, connecting them to one another.

Mideast Youth, which relies on open source platforms, like WordPress and Ruby on Rails, was launched in 2006 by Esra'a Al-Shafei as a simple group-blogging idea. However, it has changed course to focus on the development of unique applications and tools.<ref>Mideast Youth Portfolio of Projects.</ref>

The platforms have a growing amount of media coverage worldwide.<ref>The Official Mideast Youth Press Room</ref>

Objectives and Means

Mideast Youth Network's content, in addition to its projects and applications, is free open source content to ensure right to access information for everyone.

Mideast Youth uses a broad spectrum of social media tools, ranging from written blogs, podcasts, vlogs, comics, video animation and pictures to live broadcasting through radio.

Projects and Applications

Mideast Youth runs various active projects that include CrowdVoice, Mideast Tunes, Ahwaa, Migrant Rights, Alliance for Kurdish Rights, The Muslim Network for Bahá'í Rights, amongst a few others.

CrowdVoice is an open source tool which harnesses the power of crowdsourcing to raise awareness and deepen insight into social movements worldwide.<ref>Wired Magazine.</ref>

Mideast Tunes is a platform profiling and connecting underground musicians using music as a tool for social change.<ref>Mideast Tunes about page.</ref>

Ahwaa is a discussion tool for Arab LGBT youth which leverages game mechanics to facilitate high-quality interactions.

In addition, Mideast Youth has launched various Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Facebook applications. Their iPad-exclusive application is called "Making of a Century,"<ref>Making of a Century</ref> which maps social movements in the past 100 years through an interactive interface.

Aside from building and designing their own websites and tools, MEY has provided in the past free hosting, development, and design to MENA-based activists who share the network's vision and values and who have been up and running for at least three consecutive months. Mideast Youth is committed to helping non-profits and individual activists because they understand the financial limits that these people and groups face.

Funding

Mideast Youth is funded through private donations and grants from non-governmental organizations, as well as any potential revenues earned through freelance development. Its primary funders are the Shuttleworth Foundation and the Omidyar Network.<ref>Omidyar Network profile.</ref>

In 2008, Mideast Youth won the Berkman Award from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University in the Human Rights/Global Advocacy category. This $10,000 award was Mideast Youth’s first source of funding. This award is presented to “people or institutions that have made a significant contribution to the Internet and its impact on society over the past decade.”<ref>Berkman Awards</ref> In 2009, the March 18 Movement, a project of Mideast Youth, received the Think Social Award, which demonstrates how social media can be used to solve the world’s problems.<ref>Think Social awards</ref> Esra'a Al-Shafei was named a 2009 Echoing Green Fellow for Civil and Human Rights, a seed funding award for young entrepreneurs engaged in social change.<ref>Echoing Green fellow - Esra'a al Shafei</ref> Financially, the fellowship consists of a $60,000 stipend paid over two years.<ref>The Echoing Green Fellowship</ref> Most recently, MEY has received a grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture for its Mideast Tunes website.<ref>Arab Fund for Arts and Culture Profile.</ref>

Awards

Leadership

Mideast Youth team is led primarily by women. The organization was founded by Esra'a Al-Shafei, a blogger from Bahrain in 2006. Ahmed Zidan of Egypt has served for over three years as the Editor-in-Chief of Mideast Youth Arabic, and is the co-founder of Ahwaa, and is also a podcaster.<ref>Mideast Youth - Ahmed Zidan</ref> Other team members include Mona Kareem, Rima Kalush, Abir Ghattas, Namita Malhotra, and Vani Saraswathi.

2011 Middle East and North Africa Protests

Blogs and video played a role in the documentation of protests throughout the Middle East and North Africa during 2010-2011, also known as the Arab Spring. During this period, MEY's project, CrowdVoice (launched in 2010) helped curate and archive the large amounts of videos, images, and eye-witness reports being aggregated and crowdsourced from across the region. As a result, it had been censored temporarily in Yemen and is still censored in Bahrain.<ref>SciDev Interview.</ref>

Media Coverage

Mideast Youth has received various coverage from news agencies, TV satellite channels, radio stations, newspapers, magazines. For instance, Sky News, CNN, New York Times, BBC, The Guardian, NPR, Time, MTV political blog "Act", VH1, Daily Telegraph, Die Zeit, Frankfurter Rundschau FR-online, Toronto Star, TechCrunch, Rolling Stone Middle East, Abu Dhabi TV, Gulf News, Al-Hasnaa' magazine, ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, The Next Web, Radio Sawt Beirut International, Radio Farda among many others.<ref>Mideast Youth Press Room.</ref>

References

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External links