Friday, December 11, 2009

Social media used to mobilize Jeddah

A few thoughts from one of our Dar Al Hekma students, Alaa Al-Mizyen, on the utility of social media in crisis situations:

In the wake of one of the most hard-hitting flash flood disasters to strike Jeddah in decades, social unions, youth groups, and charity organizations have sprouted overnight with the sole mission of shedding light upon this unfortunate occurrence. Some chose to deal with the flood aftermath in scrutiny and backlash, while others hung their heads low in grief and resonating heartaches…and then, there were those who heeded to the silent cries of the city’s inhabitants.

The message to be spread was loud and clear – help was needed, and it was needed immediately. Facebook groups with the mission of providing support to those afflicted by the flash floods were created instantly, with one such group obtaining approximately 30,000 members within a matter of days. Twitter and Watwet chirps echoed calls to action. Youtube and Flickr became the city’s visual podium – new social media, with its ability to reach the masses within seconds, lit a spirit of camaraderie and benevolence amongst the community. Volunteer groups were formed overnight with people heading over to the Jeddah Exhibition Center to help pack relief kits and sort donated goods. Men with 4x4s trekked out to the damage sites in search of stranded survivors. Collective efforts were pitched in almost instantaneously and I couldn’t help but recall how the infinite advantages of new social media were stressed upon during module I, and again in module II, of the US-Saudi Women’s Forum on Social Entrepreneurship.

We are living through a fruitful era, an era that is marked by unvarying connectedness and globalization. If applying new social media to your social enterprise seems trivial, just take a look at how it brought together a whole city during a time of despair. Discover a need, uphold a cause, throw it out into a networking media tool and you’ll reach thousands, impact millions, and help the world rid itself of one predicament at a time.

post by: Alaa Al-Mizyen
Co-founder of GreenJeddah
Creator of Arabian Pop

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