Jordan: The Queen's Vlog, Internet Socio-Economics and More

HM Queen Rania of Jordan, who has been vlogging for about a year, was recently awarded the YouTube's first-ever Visionary Award for launching an interactive online channel to combat stereotypes and misconceptions associated with Arabs and Muslims. She just released a humorous video spelling out the 10 reasons the made her start a vlog.

Blogger Roba Assi linked to the video on her blog, and commented:

When I started streaming this video, the last thing I expected was to find myself cracking-up a few seconds later. What I even expected less was having my colleagues scramming around my screen laughing too. But what do I know. The internet always has a lot of surprises up its sleeves.

Kudos to the Queen for such a good vlog; funny, short, and surprising. Plus, it the backdrop of the vlog is what I see out of our office window, Wadi Saqra, so that makes it even better, as far as I’m concerned.

And hey, she definitely beats Letterman

Here's the video:

Internet accessibility and penetration in Jordan is low when compared to the other countries. Recently, one of the main service providers, Orange, introduced a new internet connection at a speed much higher than what was already available in Jordan.Naseem Tarawaneh discusses what he sees as the socio-economic implications such a leap in speed might have on Jordanians:

A bit of news has been spreading like wildfire these past few days in Amman: the new 8mb ADSL Internet connection from Orange. The advertisements have been popping up all over town and it naturally got me thinking about what such a leap in speed might mean for Jordan. Yes, it is not the most significant event, but in a country this small the ripple effects of such a move can be pretty interesting.

Internet is not a commodity that is, as of yet, wide spread in the Kingdom. While many people do have access to the Internet through their workplace, through Internet cafes, through schools, universities and various other places, Internet penetration, as defined by the number of subscribers, remains relatively low. So for those who do have, say, Internet access at home, the pool is some what small.

My argument here is not against having faster Internet connections in the country, but rather suggesting that the direction this technology is advancing should be more towards making the Internet more affordable and therefore, more widespread, as opposed to more expensive and therefore more refined demographically.

Why can’t policymakers find a way to allow for free and/or very affordable Internet to various neighborhoods around the country? I’m not saying that all of Jordan should become a hot-spot (although that would be my ideal dream in the absence of private sector control) but, for right now, I think there are ways to turn specific areas in to “Internet Zones”. I would not mind my tax money paying for it. I’d admire more private sector companies picking up the tab with a little advertisement in it for them. Heck, how about a group of companies teaming up with a single Internet service provider?

More on that, here.

The Arab Observer talks about a new idea for social networking on the web that he helped devise at a workshop in Sweden that revolves around debates and values:

Our biggest assignment for the young leadership program in Sweden was to come up with ideas for a social media networking solution for 2010. My group, The Frozen 5, contained a Palestinian human rights activist, a Swedish journalist, a Syrian architect, am Egyptian media teacher, and me – Jordanian web developer/blogger.

It was a challenging question. We started thinking of what draws us to the internet, and what is the common trait of us – the young leaders participants of the program -. The answer was simple and clear: It is OUR PASSION to defend our VALUES. Isn't it the same thing that we all share? Isn't it what made blogging popular?

That is how the Debate Arena emerged! A place where two people (for now) can go head to head in debating a certain issue/value (see climate change scenario image below). I have always wished to go head to head against Qwaider (:P). Two people challenging each other while having all the resources that they can gather to support their views, and they can invite their friends to support them right below their debate. Supporters (like in blogs) can add comments, they can add videos/images/audio that would help the argument of each contender. And finally, they can vote! A voting that would decide the winner of the debate (if they want a win/lose debate). The winner gets a small icon indicating his win in a debate of a certain issue along with the number of votes he got. Eventually active people in different issues would be collecting many winning icons that would distinguish them as leaders in that area.

And finally, the Great Amman Municipality is proposing a set of logos for the Jordanian capital, which attempt to reflect the city's cultural, social, and demographic scenes. Ahmad Humaid talks about the new idea, and how the municipality is encouraging Jordanians to vote for their favourite logo to be selected:

Amman is getting a new logo in 2009. And all citizens are invited to take part in choosing their favorite design.

The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) is publishing the above advert in today’s newspapers, inviting everyone to head down to Al Hussein Cultural Center to have a look at an exhibition of a number of options for Amman’s new logo.

So what’s all of this about?

Well, it definitely about more than a “new logo”..

This project will result in a new brand for Amman: a new communication identity and a new attitude which is hoped to be embraced by the city and its citizens, first and foremost, but which also will play a role in creating a stronger impression and better communication with the city’s visitors, potential tourism markets and the business sector.

Hundreds of citizens from all walks of life have been interviewed for this project, as we set on a journey that took us through Amman’s hills and history as well as its contemporary reality and its future aspirations. We had the most interesting talks with so many insightful Ammani characters: people who love Amman, but who also are able to critically dissect its identity. We talked to the young and old. We met people from the four corners of Amman. We read the writings of poets, novelists, historians, architects, anthropologists and bloggers.

That’s why GAM (and we at SYNTAX) urge you to come down to Al Hussein Cultural Center in Ras al Ain this week and be a part of choosing the new logo for Amman.

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