Content Arabia Conference–A First in the Region
On Wednesday I attended the Content Arabia Conference at the Hotel Meridien in Shmeisani. This event was organized by Haitham Masood of Mjalati.
Attending at all was a serendipitous stroke of luck, and came about because I happen to know the charming MC for the occasion, Farah Taher. I have to say in all honesty, that while the conference shows a lot of promise for future related events, there was nowhere near enough publicity and some of the speakers were somewhat lackluster. I spend half my life online and I am well connected across the region, but I did not read one word online about this event. In addition, it was really hard to even find out who organized the conference–hence the fact that I’ve updated this post twice so far.
Also, I have to say that I personally didn’t learn anything new–not surprising since I’ve been in the industry since 1995
But as I said, we have to start somewhere, and kudos to Haitham Masood and his team for staging the event. They deserve a huge round of applause for that. The move to open regional discussion on the subject of digital content was long overdue.
Takeaways from Content Arabia
Here are my takeaways from the event:
- The Arab World is now on a par with the US and Europe as far as Internet participation is concerned with around 40 percent saturation from country to country.
- There are a myriad of opportunities in the Middle East right now for companies that are prepared to do the work and identify gaps in services–and fill them with quality offerings: the time is right for research, investment and development.
- There is an urgent need for home-grown social media channels that more appropriately meets the social and business needs of the region.
- Yahoo is so far doing the best job of providing content in Arabic but there is still scads of room for improvement.
- And here’s the kicker: People are posting content across the region but no one knows because it’s not optimized (yes, you DO need SEO), and it’s not posted to Social Media with knowledge of how social media works–and hence no results.
- And one last not-so-fun fact: Guess which were the three most searched words across the region for 2011?
Makes you cringe doesn’t it? I hope that we can all work hard across the region to bring our content up to the standard required, and to make us truly competitive with the US and Europe.
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