#Saudi Arabia world’s 2nd most Twitter-happy nation

Updated 26 May 2013
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#Saudi Arabia world’s 2nd most Twitter-happy nation

Saudi Arabia currently ranks second among the world’s fastest growing countries on Twitter, with a 42-percent increase in the number of account holders after Indonesia, which rose to 44 percent, according to GlobalWebIndex’s ‘Stream Social: Quarterly Social Platforms Update.’
“Twitter appeals to the Saudi user. He just wants to say what is on his mind, float an idea, debate and discuss it and jump onto a new subject,” said Bilal Hallab, social business strategist and general manager at the Social Clinic, a social media and business consultancy firm based in Jeddah.
“We see these phenomena in many countries. In the US for example, Twitter is by far more common and preferred than Facebook.”
Hallab adds that the majority of Internet users in Saudi Arabia are Twitter account owners, with three million users. Facebook has more than six million users. “The growth of Twitter over the past eighteen months in the country is phenomenal.”
According to a report released by the Social Clinic in 2012, Saudi Arabia topped the list of Twitter growth penetration throughout all four quarters of 2012, with a growth rate exceeding 3,000 percent versus the global growth rate of 300 percent. “What is more surprising is that Riyadh held 10th position as a city worldwide in terms of tweets per month,” said Hallab.
Riyadh alone accounts for 50 million tweets. Saudi Arabia has the most Arabic tweets among the other Arabic-speaking countries and it accounts for 30 percent of the entire Arabic tweeting population. This makes Arabic one of the top 5 growing languages on Twitter, according to the Social Clinic report. “Twitter allows for short fast live-updates and conversations that spread information at the quickest speed and with the widest reach,” said Manal Assaad, a social media strategist and marketing consultant at the Manalyst. “Facebook has more users than Twitter in Saudi Arabia (5+ million users on Facebook users and 3+ million active Twitter users by the end of 2012), but Twitter is a more open social network that allows users to discover what’s going on around them, follow what others are doing or talking about, and lets them communicate with other users freely even if they don’t know them.”
Assaad said that starting or joining conversations on Twitter with strangers is much easier than on Facebook considering its very public nature.
It is also a more fun and lively source of news that is more accommodating to the nature of the Saudi youth, where important and relevant news come to them instead of them having to look for it.
The largest age group of Twitter users in the Kingdom is the 25-34-year-olds. The second largest group is the 18-24-year-olds.
“From my personal experience, I can say that Twitter can give the youth a great boost in terms of data discovery and knowledge, ideas and value exchange,” said Assaad. “Twitter allows the youth to follow local and international professionals who share their knowledge as well as useful tips and articles in small doses on a frequent basis.”
Assad herself has over 11,000 followers on Twitter.
She added that Twitter is also a great platform for crowdsourcing, where, with just a single tweet, you can reach hundreds — and even thousands — of users who can answer your questions, give you ideas and opinions, solve your problems, or at least spread the word about your needs.
“When used properly and strategically used to build and engage a community, Twitter can help support your business, whether you’re a start-up trying to raise awareness about your brand, or you’re a big brand aiming to support your customers with speed and spot potential customers.”


China launches rover for first far side of the moon landing

Updated 08 December 2018
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China launches rover for first far side of the moon landing

  • The blast-off marked the start of a long journey to the far side of the moon for the Chang’e-4 mission, expected to land around the New Year to carry out experiments and survey the untrodden terrain
  • Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022

BEIJING: China launched a rover early Saturday destined to land on the far side of the moon, a global first that would boost Beijing’s ambitions to become a space superpower, state media said.
The Chang’e-4 lunar probe mission — named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology — launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the southwestern Xichang launch center at 2:23 am (1823 GMT), according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The blast-off marked the start of a long journey to the far side of the moon for the Chang’e-4 mission, expected to land around the New Year to carry out experiments and survey the untrodden terrain.
“Chang’e-4 is humanity’s first probe to land on and explore the far side of the moon,” said the mission’s chief commander He Rongwei of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the main state-owned space contractor.
“This mission is also the most meaningful deep space exploration research project in the world in 2018,” He said, according to state-run Global Times.
Unlike the near side of the moon that is “tidally locked” and always faces the earth, and offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.
It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the heavily cratered surface, uncloaking some of the mystery of the moon’s “dark side.”
No lander or rover has ever touched the surface there, positioning China as the first nation to explore the area.
“China over the past 10 or 20 years has been systematically ticking off the various firsts that America and the Soviet Union did in the 1960s and 1970s in space exploration,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
“This is one of the first times they’ve done something that no one else has done before.”

It is no easy technological feat — China has been preparing for this moment for years.
A major challenge for such a mission is communicating with the robotic lander: as the far side of the moon always points away from earth, there is no direct “line of sight” for signals.
As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao (“Magpie Bridge“) satellite into the moon’s orbit, positioning it so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and earth.
Adding to the difficulties, Chang’e-4 is being sent to the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole region — known for its craggy and complex terrain — state media has said.
The probe is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad.
They include low-frequency radio astronomical studies — aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side — as well as mineral and radiation tests, Xinhua cited the China National Space Administration as saying.
The experiments also involve planting potato and other seeds, according to Chinese media reports.
Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.
The Chang’e 4 mission is a step in that direction, significant for the engineering expertise needed to explore and settle the moon, McDowell said.
“The main thing about this mission is not science, this is a technology mission,” he said.

Chang’e-4 will be the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the Yutu (“Jade Rabbit“) rover mission in 2013.
Once on the moon’s surface, the rover faces an array of extreme challenges.
During the lunar night — which lasts 14 earth days — temperatures will drop as low as minus 173 degrees Celsius (minus 279 Fahrenheit). During the lunar day, also lasting 14 earth days, temperatures soar as high as 127 C (261 F).
The rover’s instruments must withstand those fluctuations and it must generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night.
Yutu conquered those challenges and, after initial setbacks, ultimately surveyed the moon’s surface for 31 months. Its success provided a major boost to China’s space program.
Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang’e-5, next year to collect samples and bring them back to earth.
It is among a slew of ambitious Chinese targets, which include a reusable launcher by 2021, a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a moon base, a permanently crewed space station, and a Mars rover.
“Our country’s successful lunar exploration project not only vaults us to the top of the world’s space power ranks, it also allows the exploration of the far side of the moon,” said Niu Min, an expert on China’s space program.
The project, he said in an interview with local website Netease, “greatly inspires everyone’s national pride and self-confidence.”