News

Reporting the 3rd Creative Commons Arab Regional Meeting

Donatella Della Ratta, August 2nd, 2011

This year the third Arab regional meeting of Creative Commons (30th June-2nd July, Tunis) proved extraordinary, in keeping with prior gatherings in the region. Co-organized with Tunisian blogging platform Nawaat and sponsored by the Al Jazeera network, the event garnered CC volunteers from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, UAE, Qatar, Iraq, Tunisia and, for the first time, welcomed three people from the Gaza strip—bloggers Bashar Lubbad and Nalan Sarraj and rapper Ayman Mghamis—who joined to contribute to two days of workshops focused on creativity, remixing and peer-production.

CC Arab community members Mahmoud Abu-Wardeh, Stephanie Terroir, Eman Jaradat, Darine Sabbagh, Pierre el Khoury, Issa Mahasneh, Kanaan Manasrah, Bassam Ali, and Bilal Randeree designed and led a variety of workshops on visual art, creative remix, open education, law, citizen journalism, and social media targeted to designers, bloggers, educators, lawyers and civil society members coming from Tunis and other Tunisian municipalities. All workshops were characterized by an emphasis on openness. In particular, a track devoted to the use of “open source tools for creative production” – led by Mahmoud and Stephanie from CC UAE team – showed the Tunisian workshop participants how to produce videos, cartoons and graphics by using exclusively open source software. The results of this workshop are the Visuals and video projections that have been projected during the final closing event of July 2nd.

Two full days of hands-on workshops were held at the Golden Tulip hotel in Tunis, in addition to two plenary sessions to discuss the future of CC in the Arab region with the presence of CC Chairman and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito. Al Jazeera`s Head of New Media, Mooed Ahmed, introduced the Creative Commons Al Jazeera repository and a number of other open projects initiated by the Qatari-based network, while Nawaat`s Sami Ben Gharbeia, Malek Khradhraoui and Riadh Guerfali spoke passionately about the role of bloggers and activists during the Tunisian revolution that ended the rule of President Ben Ali last January.

Oussama Barkia and Fedi Fedi from Kharabeesh delighted everybody with a screening of their CC BY-NC-ND-licensed web cartoons that mock Arab dictators, an example of the new Arab creativity that is no longer bounded by a fear of expressing thoughts and ideas freely.

The “grand finale” was truly a celebration of Arab creativity and of Arab youth who, during 2011, were able to seize their future and reinvent it. Since the events in the region had their starting point in Tunis, the celebration was also an homage to the Tunisian people, particularly the youth. On the 2nd of July, Tunisian and Arab artists — among them, Armada Bizerta, Lak3y, Yram, Aliaa, Badiaa Bouhrizi, Barbaroots, Yasser Shoukry — gathered at the stunning venue of Ennajma Ezzahra in Sidi Bou Said, Tunis to play music together in a concert which has been renamed “Sharing the Spring”, in reference to the “Arab spring”, a movement of change which has been spread all across the Arab world after the Tunisian revolution.

The concert was also an homage to the sharing culture that CC, together with many organizations and civil society activists, has contributed to spread out in the Region. During the CC regional meeting, musicians Mark Levine and Reda Zine conducted a music workshop with Tunisian and Arab artists, the results of which being two songs — “Mamnou3” (Forbidden) and “Thawra mustamirra” (Ongoing revolution) — entirely written and performed by its participants, musicians from a variety of Arab countries and music backgrounds, from heavy metal to rap to folk to classical Arab music. The artists are now working to produce the two original tracks and distribute them on a CD and on the Internet under a CC BY NC license.

Media resources
Visuals and video projections during the concert have also been the result of a creative workshop with Tunisian artists led by Mahmoud and Stephanie from CC UAE. The concert audio is now available, together with pictures on Flickr and Picasa, in addition to video footage of the event.

Media coverage
Tunisian and international media reviewed “Sharing the spring” concert, including Rolling Stone Middle East, Tunisian magazine Tekiano, Italian news agency Ansa, and Al Jazeera English.

Blog posts of the event are also widely available online, together with the report by Creative Commons Qatar.

For those who wish to stay tuned and learn more about the meeting, the concert and the upcoming CD, you can join the Creative Commons Arab regional mailing list or email donatella [at] creativecommons.org.

Thanks to eveybody who has contributed to make this event and concert a perfect example of the creativity and innovation that can be produced via collaboration and sharing.

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