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Twitter Needs Drastic Changes to Regain its Charm – Arab News

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via marin/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

A few days ago, a renowned US magazine the Atlantic published an interesting article about the “death” of Twitter; it called it “Eulogy for Twitter.”

The article discussed and assessed trends and the fast-changing phases the social media is going through that seem to be taking it to the grave; the grave of the Internet hypes that once been around and now left us to be part of history, alive in the memories of their used-to-be users (there is no better example than MySpace). 

Frankly, the article seems to be striking a chord with a lot of Twitter users, especially those who witnessed its rise back in 2010. 
Twitter was quieter back then. It felt like the place where you went to find interesting people, discussing interesting stuff. You could easily find a group of people who shared your interests, your passion about something. 

It was somehow intimate, more personal, easy to belong to and easier to meet new ideas and new minds. I personally made a number of good friends during that period.

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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Articles

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It’s a Dream come True – Arab News

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via http://www.oc1oc.com/?p=2075/ not related to Arab News

For a long time, Jeddawis had been dreaming of a new stadium where they could see their favorite teams, Al-Ahli and Al-Ittihad, lock horns. This long awaited dream became a reality with the inauguration of the King Abdullah Sports City last Thursday.

The beautifully designed structure made in the shape of a jewel marks a new beginning in the history of Saudi sports that has not seen a major addition to its infrastructure for quite some time. 

Although the opening ceremony itself was successful, I am not sure it is possible to say the same about the overall organization of the event.

It all started before Thursday, when the free entrance to the event was announced with tickets available at post offices. Unfortunately, it was a recipe for disaster. The inexperienced organizing team of the event met the unprepared post office services!

This decision created a mess within the first few hours of the distribution day; chaotic offices, uncoordinated staff and long queues of people suffering the suffocating heat and humidity. Crowds have their fair share of the blame as well, let’s admit it, we are not used to queuing and dealing with situations that require patience and discipline, but truth be told, there was nothing in the tickets’ distribution that made any organization inevitable.

The irony is that despite the chaos and long hours under the sun, the tickets carried no value at all on the main day! Thousands upon thousands marched on foot toward the gates of the stadium and were able to pass without a second glance from anyone. The seats marked with numbers proved to be useless, it was first come, first ‘have a seat’ kind of way! 

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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Articles

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Is it Necessary to Curb Freedom on YouTube Productions? – Arab News

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The relative freedom of Saudi YouTubers seems to be coming to an end, as the authorities, represented by the General Commission for Audiovisual Media, are taking serious steps to closely monitor the Saudi productions on YouTube.

Apparently, filming one’s own shows, uploading them to YouTube and making them available to millions to watch will not remain as easy as it is now. To be able to do that, one will soon be required to get registered and obtain a license to do carry on with those activities.

The story of YouTube in the Kingdom goes hand in hand with Twitter; as both the social media platforms found a huge fan base in the young generation of the Kingdom. The Kingdom has witnessed huge growth of Twitter and Saudi viewers watch three times as much YouTube as Americans, according to Google.

A number of young Saudis found themselves labeled as the “New Media Superstars” mere months after their YouTube shows attracted millions upon millions of viewers. They started new businesses and production companies dedicated to YouTube shows. Suddenly, the booming number of Saudi shows became the talk of the country. The way these shows were produced and presented to the Saudi viewers, based mainly on comedy, with young people talking in a simple language, presenting our daily problems in comical sketches and scenes, came in contrast to the typical Saudi shows, making an instant rift between the image of the official, old- fashioned media and what became to be known as “the new media.”

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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Articles, Social Media

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Leadership and Management Skills are Two Different Things – Arab News

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AN engineer had replaced a doctor at the top position of the Ministry of Health at this very critical time of battling MERS coronavirus. Honestly, I did not cheer up once the decision was announced. I thought that a practicing doctor was fit to deal with such a situation. I voiced that out in a tweet when I a friend of mine, a doctor himself, replied to me that “the MoH is in need of a leader and that is something very hard to find in doctors!”

A controversial statement I am sure. And I trust that he did not mean, in anyway, that doctors are not or cannot be leaders. Doctors are entrusted to make tough decision about their patients’ lives and be in charge whenever they step in his or her clinic. Dr. Al-Rabeeah, the former health minister, is an extraordinary surgeon with an international reputation in the field of separating conjoined twins. A man like him is expected to be a leader in the operation room, directing the team, making decisions and standing side by side with all his staff in those critical moments.

However, the leadership that my doctor friend was talking about is a different kind of leadership. It is the kind acting Health Minister Adel Fakeih has demonstrated in the few days after taking over the position.

Right away, he embarked on field visits to different health institutions, he approached the media with a different tone “we will be very transparent in our efforts to combat the virus,” something that was painfully missed in the former managing team, he appointed a specialized adviser in his team, and he is openly discussing plans and strategies with the public.

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MERS: Social Media Responsible for False info – Arab News

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via David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

If there is a contest for the topic of the week in the Saudi social media scene; last week’s prize would definitely go to “Coronavirus.”
It is everywhere you go; on Twitter, plenty of tweets and hashtags about the virus, on Facebook, endless feeds and links to online newspapers rambling about the subject and on the top of them all, stream of endless WhatsApp messages.

It is normal, understandable even, that such a topic would grab the attention of the public. Just all of a sudden, news about medical practitioners contracting the virus started to fly all over the place. People started to worry, talk, gossip, and of course, feeding social media platforms with their fears.

However, the unfortunate thing is that most of the shared and talked about news, information and advices, are baseless, hyped, or driven out of context. 

Truth became as a drop in a sea of lies and made up information.

An environment of panic is suitable for rumors to grow and spread. There are messages on how to protect yourself and family from the virus, warnings about not even going to hospitals or to be around them, false news about hospitals closing their doors and doctors no longer going to their workplaces, about discovered vaccines and new ways to contain the spread. 

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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Articles

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Life is but a Balance Act – Arab News

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When he felt death crawling toward his bed, he called for his sons and daughters to come. Gathered around in his room, he looked at them, one after another, adults of different personalities, dreams, experiences, achievements and setbacks. He felt as a stranger among them. Life has passed by, with all its adversities and accomplishments, but in that moment, he felt like he had not lived at all. 
It felt as if his life had started yesterday and it was about to end anytime today. He felt like he had never been in love, never witnessed the joy of passing a ball to his own son, of holding the hand of his little daughter in a swimming pool, of having a quite dinner with his wife, of being around family and friends laughing and letting go. It has been all about work, deadlines, negotiating with this, fighting with that, making money and buying stuff that he never enjoyed. It felt like he did not only miss his life, but the lives of all those gathered around him.

The above introduction might feel like a scene from an old movie, or like an excerpt from a melodramatic story. However, if we try to feel this situation, it would dawn on us that it could happen to anyone of us.

We play many roles and wear different hats in our lives; as professionals, spouses, parents, friends, family members, citizens, and as human beings with their own dreams and ambitions. It is but natural that these roles sometimes collide at one moment or the other. They fight to get your attention, to direct your efforts, to hold on to your dedication. Unfortunately, in juggling all these responsibilities, a lot of us lose control.

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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Articles, Saudi business

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Twitter: Does the Followers’ Count Matter? – Arab News

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via jscreationzs/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

I read this story somewhere; I am not sure if it is meant to be a joke or it is based on true events. It goes like this: An old woman was looking for a wife for her son. She was attending a wedding when a girl caught her eye and she decided to approach her and check if she was already taken. 

After exchanging a few words, the woman told the girl: “I think I like you and I believe my son would too, his name is XXXX, do you know him?” The girl was taken aback, “What do you mean by that? Of course I don’t know him!” the girl said. “He has so many followers on Twitter, are you sure you don’t know him,” the mother said with an edge of anger to her voice.
Whether the incident is true or fictitious, it revolves around a very important question: Anyone on Twitter must have pondered upon at least once … does followers’ count matter?

For a lot of people, the number of followers on Twitter is a huge sign of popularity. It is an indication of influence, credibility. When you open the profile of a Twitter user with lots of followers, you would automatically assume that he is influential; he must have something important to say.

I hope you won’t be surprised when I tell you that this is not entirely true. According to many analysts, a Twitter user with a 1,000 followers could be more influential than the one with 50,000 or even 100,000 followers.

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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Articles, Social Media

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Differentiating between Real and Fictitious amid Fears – Arab News

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via marin/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

At a recent get-together, one of our friends surprised us by showing up wearing a medical mask. Another complained that most pharmacies were out of hand sanitizers. All this and much more is perhaps the natural reaction to the reports about spread of coronavirus or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Jeddah.

About a week ago, panic gripped the city when reports about the death of a medical practitioner went public. He died of MERS in one of the government hospitals in Jeddah. In the wake of his death, various rumors started doing the rounds and not to be surprised most of the social media networks went abuzz with different theories.

Frankly speaking, despite the seriousness of this issue one has to admit that the social media and different online news outlets blew the issue out of proportion. However, the health officials decided to maintain their silence. And perhaps rumors feed on silence. Tweets, Facebook feeds, and WhatsApp messages went crazy with rumors about closure of hospitals, huge numbers of fatalities, and list upon lists of health guidelines pouring in from everywhere in the cyberspace. 

Such a situation always gives rise to (sometimes) unwarranted fears, which grow due to people’s natural concern for the safety of their loved ones.

After some delay, the Ministry of Health (MoH) finally broke its silence over the issue. As always when an official comes forward to contain a situation fatted with rumors, people receive his statements with skepticism. In the era of the fast and furious social media networks, you do not voluntarily give the crowd the chance to tell your side of the story, to speak in your behalf; by doing so you simply lose your credibility. Despite repeated statements and photos of routine work carried out in various hospitals and official visits to one of the hospitals particularly in the news, there are those who still swear that four hospitals have already been closed because of the virus; they have the WhatsApp messages to prove it!

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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Articles

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The Pros and Cons of Digital Technology – Arab News

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via Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

The expression “Digital Detox” found its way to the Oxford Dictionary Online back in August last year.

The dictionary states: “Digital detox (n): A period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world: Break free of your devices and go on a digital detox.”

With the rapid change we are all going through in the way we entertain, connect, and educate because of the Internet, came a movement that is advocating a “back for reality” approach; let’s meet and interact with real people of flesh and blood, not only bios, avatars, feeds, and timelines.

The repeated calls for such digital detoxing in the form of “unplugging” campaigns opened the door for an interesting debate; do we really need to digital detox?

Those in favor of the “unplugging” do have a lot of researches and studies on their side. Some of these studies have been discussed in here, on this very page. These studies confirm that we are more mentally and physically drained these days because of our constant attachment to our phones and tablets.

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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Articles

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Why should we travel? – Arab News

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via Ambro/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

Airports are chaotic places. They are noisy, stressful, and unorganized. It is where people bump into each other filled with different hopes, dreams, fears, and feelings. It is where scents collide; languages mix, and sounds form an orchestra of endless tones. 
Despite waiting in queues, uncomfortable planes’ seats and hotels’ beds, jet lag and expensive meals, we long to travel, to escape the monotony of daily routine.

Why do you travel? Ask this question and expect to be overwhelmed with a long list of reasons: To reduce stress, change environment, for adventure, to meet new people, and to study arts and history. We travel “to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment no matter what,” says George Santayana in his beautify written letter “The Philosophy of Travel.”

Saudis love to travel. We may not make top the list like Germans, Britons, Americans, Japanese, Chinese, and Australians but if you talk about the Middle East, we are all over the place. Just ask Cairo (back in the days), Beirut (before its politics went crazy), Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Bahrain, Casablanca, and London about Saudis roaming their streets, malls and cafes.

We do share some of the reasons of why we choose to travel with the rest of world; breaking routine and changing scenery tops the list. Add to it some simple pleasures like going to the cinema and you might sum up all the reasons of why up to 80 percent of the Saudis travel. Art, history and engaging with cultures are not usually part of our travel plans that if we have a plan to start with! I know those who visit Egypt regularly and what they know about the pyramids is only that pharaohs built those structures, those who know the Harrods but not the British Museum, the Times Square but not the plays on Broadway, the Galleria Vittorio but nothing about the Colosseum.

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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Articles

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