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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Qatar’s Supreme Council for Information and Communication Technology, ictQatar, is among the many governments making waves by promoting openness and Creative Commons. During the welcome address at last weekend’s Digitally Open conference in Doha, the ictQATAR’s Secretary General Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber announced that “all future ICT Qatar projects will be open source, and we aim to use these solutions throughout the government. Open Source should be the solution for every government initiative.” She listed a range of domains where openness would benefit Qatari society, including education, medicine, and the arts. “Being open can even be considered a moral obligation. I am excited about the potential this country has,” Dr. Al-Jaber explained.
Governmental bodies around the world are adopting Creative Commons licenses and signaling to their constituencies that these works can be shared in simple, interoperable ways. Just this week, the current Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva released his official photostream under CC BY, while also posting a CC BY-licensed announcement to run for re-election on SoundCloud.
New Zealand recognizes that reuse of government copyright works by individuals and organizations may have significant creative and economic benefit for the country. To harness this potential and enable greater access to public sector works, the enacted NZ Government Open Access and Licensing (NZGOAL) framework standardizes licensing of copyrighted works by State Services agencies by using Creative Commons licenses and recommends the use of ‘no-known rights’ statements for non-copyright material. The Dutch government also demonstrated a great degree of leadership when it instituted CC0 as the default copyright policy of the Dutch national government’s unified website, which contains the websites of all the ministries. All content on www.rijskoverheid.nl is available without restrictions unless noted otherwise.
Creative Commons applauds these initiatives and looks forward to working with key governmental institutions such as ictQatar and others to pioneer further efforts. To foster original Arabic content and improve education and innovation, ictQatar pledged to establish policies that encourage open source solutions in governmental IT and oversee a major national digitization effort to release Arabic-language content under Creative Commons licenses. These are just a number of initiatives agreed upon during the Digitally Open conference as part of a vision to strengthen the voice of the region.
Furthermore, thanks to the generous support of ictQatar, many CC Affiliates and community members traveled to Doha to participate in the second CC Arab World regional meeting. A summary of the meeting will be published shortly, including information about the region’s roadmap and consensus-driven translations of key CC terms into Arabic. You can contribute feedback to the roadmap when published, and importantly, please consider donating today to Creative Commons to support the licensing infrastructure that many governments and other important institutions and creators rely upon.Comments Off on Governments demonstrating leadership in openness with Creative Commons