For the fourth consecutive year, Creative Commons communities in the Arab world have self-organized and hosted CC Iftars to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the spirit of sharing.
Back in 2010, CC Iftars were created as community-organized gatherings where CC members and people interested in the sharing culture would meet up to celebrate together the breaking of the fast, and share food and creative ideas. During the past four years, CC communities in Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, Qatar, and Tunisia have actively contributed to the iftar project by hosting community events, screening movies, featuring talks, charity marathons, and remixing competitions.
This Ramadan 2013, CC Iftars where organized in Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. CC Iftar Doha kicked off in the Qatari capital on 23 July in a magnificent Ramadan tent at the St. Regis hotel. A very diverse community made up of technologists, graphic designers, entrepreneurs and photographers, who all share an interest in growing digital Arabic content, attended the gathering and donated the proceeds of the evening to the orphans in Qatar.
Despite the deteriorating security situation, the CC community in Iraq was able to celebrate CC Iftars for the second year. This time, the event was not only hosted in the capital Baghdad, but also in Kirkuk, Dhi Qar, Sulaymaniyah, and al-Diwaniyyah. The lively and brave group behind the Iraqi Network for Social Media – who are very active in organizing open-culture–related activities – has managed to put together around a hundred people in these five cities all across the country, and celebrate the spirit of sharing by screening movies and hosting a brainstorming session about new ideas and projects as well as a ceremony to remember Iraqi orphans. The events were simultaneously held on 27 July and they were attended by people with a wide range of professional backgrounds, spanning from bloggers and journalists to photographers and artists.
On 31 July, it was Lebanon’s turn to host its CC Iftar for the second time. The event was held in the brand new multi-purpose space of Alt City in Hamra district, Beirut. The community gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of CC Lebanon – which has been a formal affiliate since 2010 – and discuss new ideas to improve the culture of sharing in the country through artistic and creative projects.
Last but not least, CC Jordan, one of the oldest CC affiliates in the Arab region, celebrated on 6 August its second CC Iftar in Amman. The gathering was hosted in the beautiful location of Fann wa Chai in the historical district of Jabal Lweibdeh. Jordan Open Source Association, who has been an active promoter of CC and the sharing culture, was behind the organization of the CC Iftar which gathered open-source lovers, geeks, bloggers, and digital activists.
As in previous years, CC Iftars have proven to be a great opportunity to host community-driven discussions and feature new ideas and projects. They have also showed the enthusiasm and self-organization skills of CC Arab communities, even in such difficult times of political and social unrest.
This year, too, our thoughts go to Bassel Khartabil aka Bassel Safadi, CC Syria public lead, who has been detained without trial by Syrian authorities since 15 March 2012. Bassel was behind the idea of launching CC Iftars in the Arab world and he is greatly missed by his family, friends, and the entire CC community.
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The first Creative Commons regional meeting in the Arab World was held a few weeks ago during Al Jazeera’s annual Media Forum in Doha, Qatar (14-16 March, 2009).
The Forum hosted the first ever face-to-face meeting of the Arab Project Leads (Ziad Maraqa and Rami Olwan from CC Jordan and Nafaa Laribi from CC Tunisia) with CC staff (Joi Ito, Donatella Della Ratta, Catharina Maracke, and Michelle Thorne), key media researchers, bloggers, CC enthusiasts and supporters from the region. The meeting, organized with the kind support of Al Jazeera, tackled many issues that are crucial for future developments of CC communities in the Arab World. Lawyers Stephanie Raye Safi from Khasawneh & Associates (Dubai), Samer Jamous from Talal Abu Ghazaleh (Qatar) and Mohammad El Said (Al Jazeera) gave input on the first ported Arabic license, now being finalized by CC Jordan.
The Arabic translation of the name “Creative Commons” took center stage of the discussion. Pros and cons were weighed whether to leave the name in English and transliterate into Arabic script, or if it should be translated with a proper Arabic word. The Jordanian translation “masha3″ was agreed to be the closest to the original English meaning, but for those who would still like to share their input, the public discussion is still open on the CC Jordan page, where you are encouraged to contribute. Other legal issues were debated, such as moral rights and fair use.
The discussion also focused on how to enrich community participation in the Arab World and develop initiatives in media, education, and general outreach. Everyone agreed that a key component for CC in the Arab World should be to foster content creation in Arabic and to encourage innovation in tools and software to speed up this process. With these plans and more underway, a community list will be started in English and Arabic. If you’d like to be in touch, please let us know!
The CC Al Jazeera day also featured a panel on “Building successful media projects in open networks”, moderated by CC’s CEO Joi Ito. Mohamed Nanahbay, former Head of New Media at Al Jazeera, presented the CC Al Jazeera repository, a website initiated by the channel to host broadcast quality footage, all distributed under CC BY. Mohamed explained how the footage has been used and remixed by different groups of people, including several TV channels that edited and re-broadcasted the material. Footage shot in Gaza last December is now available in the repository, and Al Jazeera announced in Doha that they plan to add more topics and genres before the summer. The panel also hosted a delegation of the European Broadcasting Union led by Nicoletta Iacobacci, Head of New Interactive, to learn more about how to use CC licenses in future broadcasting initiatives.
It was a very busy and interesting day, with plenty of insights and thoughts for the future development of open content and CC communities in the Arab world. A big thank to the Al Jazeera team, particularly Mohamed, Moeed, and the New Media team for their passionate support and the great work to make this happen. Shukran gezilan!
We hope to plan more events of those kind, and if you want to stay in touch with us on those topics, please write an email to [email protected]1 Comment »
More than a year ago, Free Culture advocate Anas Tawileh analyzed the state of Arabic content online. His portal Arab Commons has grown modestly but steadily since its launch in 2007, offering 11 full textbooks in Arabic, plus magazines, podcasts, poetry collections, and a number of art works — all within a few months. For a language with 200 million speakers, however, Anas and his colleagues in the Arab World were determined to match scale and build a larger pool of open Arabic content. But how?
A critical first step came when CC Jordan announced the public discussion of the first Version 3.0 draft in Arabic, a necessary move to improve the licenses’ legal certainty in court and prompt wider adoption in the Middle East.
Now, with the unparalleled release of Al Jazeera’s Gaza footage under CC BY, the Arab World is poised for more. In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah already created the Initiative for Arabic Digital Content, which recently held a two-day workshop on “Open Arabic Content” in Riyadh. CC legal expert Rami Olwan from Jordan was in attendance, discussing the licensing system and meeting supporters. Ziad Maraqa, co-Project Lead from CC Jordan, spoke yesterday in Damascus at the iCommunity FOSS Workshop, a notable gathering for the Syrian Free Software community.
With initiatives like these, Creative Commons in the Arab World will no doubt continue to grow. After the Jordan CC licenses launch, other jurisdictions are ready to follow. There is still a lot of translation and outreach work to be done, so if you would like to get involved, you can contact Donatella Della Ratta, our Arab World Media and Development Manager, and learn more.
With that, a huge thank you to the recent event organizers for inviting CC to participate, and thank you to the many individuals already helping promote Free Culture in the Arab World!2 Comments »
Jordanian legal experts are making major strides in the Creative Commons license porting process by producing the first Version 3.0 CC license draft in Arabic. Adapted to Jordanian law, the license draft is being discussed on CC Jordan’s mailing list, along with the license’s English re-translation and an explanation of its substantial legal changes.
With the support of the reputable Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP), CC Jordan Project Leads Ziad Maraqa and Rami Olwan have committed much time and expertise in developing the Jordanian license draft. Hala Essalmawi (CC Egypt) and Anas Tawileh (initiator of Arab Commons) contribute to CC Jordan’s efforts as well as conduct local outreach to further Creative Commons’ mission. Individuals and organizations interested in beginning a local Creative Commons project in their jurisdiction or in helping raise awareness about Creative Commons in the Arab World, please contact Creative Commons International and CC Arab Media Consultant Donnatella della Ratta.
On behalf of CC Jordan, we warmly welcome you to join in the public discussion of the license draft. Congratulations to CC Jordan and the Arab Commons team, and we are looking forward to your feedback!5 Comments »