IAMCR 2011, 17 July: Special Session on New Media and the Middle East


The first few months of 2011 have seen an astonishing unfolding of political change across the Maghreb and Middle East. These build on long-standing grievances and inequalities and older forms of political mobilization, so cannot simply be labelled as 'Twitter revolutions', yet at the same time there is little doubt that different forms of new media were creatively used in these uprisings.

Khaled Koubaa was active in the first such mobilization in Tunisia while Gigi Ibrahim participated in the Tahrir Square processes that rocked Mubarak's regime in Egypt. They will each describe and analyse the mix of face-to-face politics and use of new media that facilitated political change in these two countries.

Alongside Khaled Kouba from Tunis and Gigi Ibrahim from Cairo, IAMCR members Marwan Kraidy (Annenberg, Philadelphia), Joe Khalil (Northwestern, Qater), Tariq Sabri (Westminster) and  DIna Matar (SOAS) will all make short interventions.

Khaled Koubaa, Tunisia: "Living in a Free Country"

k_koubaaKhaled Koubaa is a social entrepreneur and independent consultant working for the non-profit and government sector in  Arab and African regions. He provides strategic direction to organizations and corporate executives on how to choose, implement and use new media and Internet tools. Khaled Koubaa has been involved with Internet Society since 2005, and participated actively within WSIS structures. He founded the Internet Society chapter in Tunisia and serves as president. He is assisting in the creation of the Arab Internet Societies union. He is regularly at the ICANN meeting as the Tunisian At-Large Structure and many other events related to the Internet. He was appointed to represent African region in the ICANN Nomination Committee.

He also serves as one of Public Interest Registry's (PIR) Advisory Council members. He is the founder and Board Director of the Arab World Internet Institute a US based non-profit, non-governmental regional organization committed to independent research on the Internet in the Arab World. Khaled was elected in 2009 as Board member of the Internet Society and elected in 2010 as a Board Member of AfriNIC. Mr Koubaa earned his Bachelor's degree in management from High School of Commerce, Tunisia and a Masters degree in electronic commerce from the High School of Electronic Commerce. He has also completed an Internet Governance Capacity Building Program with the Diplo Foundation.

Gigi Ibrahim, Egypt

g_ibrahimGigi Ibrahim is a 24-year-old citizen journalist and political activist with the revolutionary socialists in Egypt. She participated in the planning and preparation for the recent demonstrations there, living in the now-famous Tahrir Square and talking to representatives from the foreign media. After spending her childhood in Egypt, Ibrahim attended high school in Anaheim, California, and later Orange Coast College. From there she transferred to the American University in Cairo, where she received a BA in political science, with a minor in sociology. In California, she demonstrated for immigration rights with the Collectivo Tonanzine and fought against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. She also took part in pro-Palestinian stands while in college.

Since moving back to Egypt in 2008, Ibrahim has been closely involved in social mobilization against the Mubarak regime, working for anti-emergency law, anti-police brutality/torture, and anti-censorship of press, as well as demanding justice, equality, democracy, human rights, and solidarity for the Palestinian cause. She has also been active in the labor movement demanding minimum wage, free-union associations, and workers rights for different sectors, particularly in Cairo. The use of social networks has been of great help to her in exposing the truth and mobilizing others under an authoritarian regime.