On April 18th, Al-Jazeera launched a new social media show called The Stream; just a couple of days earlier, TEDx Ramallah–part of the global TED (or Technology, Education, Design) family of events–brought speakers together online from Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon. Two weeks before that, Palestinian tech incubator Bazinga!, a TEDx-featured venture, hosted a training session on social networking and new media platforms.
What’s obvious from all of this: Social media hasn’t just played a key role in recent Middle East events, it’s being developed here. And Souktel is an active part of this new trend. When Bazinga! CEO and co-founder Mohammad Khatib prepared for his training event, he used Souktel’s SMS service to promote it to more than 100 IT and new media college graduates–all local job seekers who use the service regularly to find work and training.
“We got through to a lot of people in a very short period of time,” he said, “and the room was full, which was great.”
Khatib, whose start-up provides co-working spaces for other new IT ventures, believes that while Palestinians recognize the growing importance of web-based social media for staying in touch and accessing breaking news, the reality is that text-messaging on simple mobile phones remains an essential tool for day-to-day communication.
“In a way, SMS actually is social media,” said Khatib, “especially when it involves multiple entities all at once.”
Souktel co-founder Mohammad Kilany agrees: “Since we launched in 2007, our SMS job information service has been one of the main tools young people use to get news about work, and to share news about themselves–their skills, their past employment experience, and so forth. Here you have thousands of people exchanging information in real time, all by text message. To us, this is social media at its most accessible”.
Kilany adds: “This month we polled a random sample of our job service users–roughly 200 people. Only 5 percent said they use Twitter, but 100 percent send text messages daily. To us this suggests that simple mobile content, accessible on a basic cell phone, still has the most value to youth in our region. But we also want to educate young Palestinians about new technology as much as possible–which is why we now offer our service on web-enabled smart phones, and why we’re honored to work with Bazinga, a clear leader in the social media sector”.
Learn more about Bazinga!
Learn more about TEDx.