‘By the people, for the people,’ Lebanese diaspora launches platform documenting Lebanon’s revolution

‘By the people, for the people,’ Lebanese diaspora launches platform documenting Lebanon’s revolution
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A group of Lebanese people from different ages and backgrounds launched the website “The Lebanese Revolution” to show solidarity with protestors. (Photo: The Lebanese Revolution's website)
‘By the people, for the people,’ Lebanese diaspora launches platform documenting Lebanon’s revolution
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A group of Lebanese people from different ages and backgrounds launched the website “The Lebanese Revolution” to show solidarity with protestors. (Photo: The Lebanese Revolution's website)
‘By the people, for the people,’ Lebanese diaspora launches platform documenting Lebanon’s revolution
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A group of Lebanese people from different ages and backgrounds launched the website “The Lebanese Revolution” to show solidarity with protestors. (Photo: The Lebanese Revolution's website)
‘By the people, for the people,’ Lebanese diaspora launches platform documenting Lebanon’s revolution
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A map showing the Lebanese diaspora's solidarity protests around the world. (Screenshot)
Updated 03 November 2019

‘By the people, for the people,’ Lebanese diaspora launches platform documenting Lebanon’s revolution

‘By the people, for the people,’ Lebanese diaspora launches platform documenting Lebanon’s revolution
  • The website was born out of the frustration of a group of Lebanese people living in London
  • The site includes an interactive map of the world showing the different cities that held solidarity protests

LONDON: As the protests that began on October 17th unfurled into the Lebanese protesters’ October Revolution, those who were hundreds and thousands of kilometers away were attached to their phone screens, scrolling through social media sites like Twitter and Instagram in order to get all the news about what was going on in their home country.
Countless solidarity protests took place across the globe, from Sydney to Toronto, Lagos to Warsaw, while the Lebanese diaspora took to their online profiles to spread the news on the unprecedented unity among those on the streets back home against corruption.
The Lebanese in London had different ideas, in order to make an impact on the ground and help the cause, a group of people from different ages and backgrounds launched the website “The Lebanese Revolution”.
“The website, which was initially meant to be a simple blog, was born out of the frustration of a group of Lebanese living in London. A lot of their international friends were asking questions, and they were frustrated with how the media portrayed the start of the revolution, and with the fact that no news channel portrayed how the Lebanese population were coming together as one,” one of the members behind the website told Arab News.
The team decided they do not want reveal their names, so as not to associate the platform with anything other than the protest, and to keep the focus on the message and solidarity with the protesters on the ground.




A map showing the Lebanese diaspora's solidarity protests around the world. (Screenshot)

“The site offers an overview of the revolution with its pillars and global impact, which includes a contribution section, where we’ll offer a forum for people to share articles they’ve written, pictures they’ve taken, or any other piece of information they want to share, and a timeline highlighting the most pressing news that occurred day by day since the start of the protests,” the anonymous member, who works on the site’s web strategy, added.
“The site’s mission is to share the Lebanese Revolution with the world by reporting vetted news, relaying a timeline of daily events, aggregating all the art that emerged from it, and offering a forum to exchange thoughts and perspectives.”

Other aspects of the site include an interactive map of the world showing the different cities that held solidarity protests, and a pledge section where people select a cause or causes they most identify with, or sign their own pledge (publicly or anonymously), for Lebanon.




The pledge section where people select a cause or causes they most identify with, or sign their own pledge (publicly or anonymously), for Lebanon. (Screenshot)

“We truly believe that change starts from within. We wanted to offer a forum for people to speak their truths and share what they pledge to do in the name of a country they love,” the member said, adding: “The pledges we’ve had so far are extremely heartwarming, and makes it feel like we’re truly all in this together. One big family.”
The London team is not working alone. They are in constant contact with protesters on the streets daily, as well as other websites and initiatives that were born out of the protests.
“At the end of the day, it’s a website for the people, by the people. We’re all in this together,” they said.
Archiving art of the revolution
The website’s art section aims to centralize the art created through graphics, songs, videos, banners, or poems.
It is divided into four different sections, documenting illustrations, graffiti, slogans used during protests, and photos of public spaces which were previously closed off and are now being used for talks and open discourse among protesters.




The art section is divided into four different sections. (Screenshot)

“Beirut always had a creative front and this was highlighted through the revolution,” another member of the team working on the art section told Arab News. “All of these illustrations and pictures are instantly shared through social media platforms, but how are we going to find them if we don’t document them in one place?”

Highlighting corruption
Another aspect of the website is the cooperation with Lebanese Corruption Facts, an instagram page focusing on economic statistics that highlight Lebanon’s corruption, as well as graphics to help explain them.
The page posts shot up to over 13,000 followers after its creation on Oct. 21, four days after the protests began.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

32% of the annual government spend is on interest payments made to banks who own Lebanese government debt. 84% of total government debt is owned by local banks.⠀ ⠀ 43% of bank ownership can be attributed to individuals closely linked to politicians.⠀ ⠀ Politicians have no interest in reducing government debt as they are earning profit from the interest payments being made.⠀ ⠀ Through legal and judicial reforms to prevent abuse of public office, conflicts of interest and illicit enrichment this could generate a saving potential of $2bn every year through reduction in inflated interest payments.⠀ ⠀ SOURCE: McKinsey 2018 Lebanon Economic Vision & Economic Research Forum “I’ve got the Power: Mapping Connections Between Lebanon’s Banking Sector and the Ruling Class” Jad Chaaban 2016⠀ ⠀ #لبنان_ينتفض #LebanonRevolution

A post shared by FACTS (@lebanon.corruption.facts) on

“With the start of the revolution it only became logical to expose what we know, in a simple, clear and direct way; through facts and numbers,” The three-person team behind the instagram account, who didn’t want to be named so as to deliver their message without bias, told Arab News.
“As members of the Lebanese diaspora, unable to partake in the movement back home, we chose to support them from London by sharing information that should be readily available to the public but unfortunately isn’t,” they added.
Sources for these statistics include reports and analyzes publicly published by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, consulting firm McKinsey, and foreign media like the BBC and Sky News, as well as their followers after triple-checking the facts.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Lebanon’s consistently poor performance in these rankings is a symptom of government inefficiency and widespread corruption.⠀ ⠀ Indeed, according to the WEF, the 5 most problematic factors for doing business in Lebanon relate to government instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, inefficient government bureaucracy and policy instability. Despite “punching above its weight in terms of business sophistication, technological readiness and innovation” (Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18, pg. 178), Lebanon continues to be held back by its government.⠀ ⠀ SOURCE: 2017/2018 Global Competitiveness Report, World Economic Forum (WEF).⠀ ⠀ ‎#لبنان_ينتفض #LebanonRevolution⠀ ⠀

A post shared by FACTS (@lebanon.corruption.facts) on

“The problem is that the systemic corruption in Lebanon is not easy to understand, it is obfuscated and multi-layered, buried in long reports which are very detailed … but subsequently very complicated,” they said. “Our purpose is to deconstruct the systemic corruption one block at a time, one post at a time.”
The page posts its facts in both English and Arabic in order to reach the most people possible.
“By posting our facts in both Arabic and English we hope to raise awareness with the diaspora to lift the veil on what is happening back home. It is important for them to know these facts, as Lebanon is still a very significant place for them,” they said.

 

 


Asharq News launches digital offering focused on sustainability, climate news

Asharq News launches digital offering focused on sustainability, climate news
Updated 16 June 2021

Asharq News launches digital offering focused on sustainability, climate news

Asharq News launches digital offering focused on sustainability, climate news
  • Asharq Business Green comes in line with Asharq’s environment and sustainability pillar

RIYADH: Asharq News announced the launch of Asharq Business Green, a new digital offering focusing on climate change, sustainability and green news.

The new vertical, available across multiple platforms, will include curated content from Bloomberg Green, Bloomberg’s climate change-focused editorial brand reproduced in Arabic.

The new vertical complements the existing offerings from Asharq News and provides its audience with a guide to business, technology and culture in the climate arena. It will employ the data and resources of Bloomberg to present cutting-edge environment and sustainability coverage in easily consumable formats.

Launched in January 2020, Bloomberg Green leverages the deep data expertise of Bloomberg to deliver original reporting and solutions-driven coverage on the business, science and technology of climate change. 

As part of an exclusive content agreement between Asharq News and Bloomberg Media, Asharq Business with Bloomberg draws on Bloomberg’s extensive financial and economic content, analysis and market data to provide Arabic-speaking audiences around the world with curated news on the companies, markets and economies shaping the Middle East.

“Media outlets today have a responsibility to ensure a green agenda when it comes to planning strategic growth. This is particularly relevant as the world embarks on post-pandemic recovery,” said Riad Hamade, director of business news at Asharq News, said.

Asharq’s initiative falls under one of the media outlet’s key corporate social responsibility pillars focused on environment and sustainability and is “well-aligned” with the objectives set forth in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, explained Hamade.


Elaph partners up with FT to produce Arabic-language ‘How To Spend It’ magazine

HTSI Arabic aims to launch in September 2021 and will be published in London. (Supplied)
HTSI Arabic aims to launch in September 2021 and will be published in London. (Supplied)
Updated 16 June 2021

Elaph partners up with FT to produce Arabic-language ‘How To Spend It’ magazine

HTSI Arabic aims to launch in September 2021 and will be published in London. (Supplied)
  • This will mark the first time that HTSI is available in the Arabic language as the FT branches out to a new audience across the Middle East and North Africa
  • HTSI is an award-winning luxury magazine from FT Weekend that presents themed issues on fashion, interiors, art, travel and lifestyle

LONDON: London-based daily Arabic online newspaper Elaph has signed an agreement on Wednesday with the Financial Times (FT) to produce the latter’s luxury magazine, How To Spend It (HTSI), in Arabic.

HTSI is an award-winning luxury magazine from FT Weekend that presents themed issues on fashion, interiors, art, travel and lifestyle.

This will mark the first time that HTSI is available in the Arabic language as the FT branches out to a new audience across the Middle East and North Africa.

“This is a big step. They have content in other languages like German and Italian, but this is the first time the FT starts something in Arabic,” Elaph founder and Editor in Chief Othman Al-Omair told Arab News.

HTSI Arabic will be distributed in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt and Morocco. It will also be available in an online edition.

FT CEO John Ridding said in a statement: “As a global brand with global reach, we are always excited to bring the FT’s quality journalism to new regions. This association with Elaph allows us to bring one of our flagship publications to a very substantial audience.”

Jo Ellison, editor of HTSI, said: “This launch aligns with the FT’s wider strategy of growing its brand reach through enhanced reader engagement. The Arabic-speaking world represents an important readership for [HTSI] and the combination of the FT’s HTSI editorial with original content from Elaph represents a bespoke offering for those readers who seek out unique lifestyle features and themes.”

The Arabic-language version aims to bring top content related to these themes, geared toward Arab audiences. The result will be a mix of translated content from HTSI as well as exclusive original content.

“We will cooperate with them to deliver content that is integrated with Arab thoughts,” Al-Omair said.

The Elaph founder added that reporters will also work in countries such as Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt “to cover our interests and theirs.”

HTSI Arabic aims to launch in September 2021 and will be published in London. Its print edition will be produced by Les Imprimeries Le Matin in Morocco, a division of Group Maroc Soir newspaper.


India slams Twitter for not complying with new IT rules

Growing tensions between India’s government and US big tech have angered firms that have spent millions of dollars to build hubs in the country. (File/AFP)
Growing tensions between India’s government and US big tech have angered firms that have spent millions of dollars to build hubs in the country. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 June 2021

India slams Twitter for not complying with new IT rules

Growing tensions between India’s government and US big tech have angered firms that have spent millions of dollars to build hubs in the country. (File/AFP)
  • Twitter deliberately defied the country's new IT rules, said India's technology minister.
  • The rules are aimed at regulating content on social media firms such as Facebook, WhatsApp messenger and Twitter,

NEW DELHI: India’s technology minister said on Tuesday that Twitter Inc. had deliberately defied and failed to comply with the country’s new IT rules, which became effective in late May.

The new rules or the so-called Intermediary Guidelines, announced in February, are aimed at regulating content on social media firms such as Facebook, its WhatsApp messenger and Twitter, making them more accountable to legal requests for swift removal of posts and sharing details on the originators of messages.

The rules also require big social media companies to set up grievance redressal mechanisms and appoint new executives to coordinate with law enforcement.

India’s technology ministry wrote to Twitter on June 5, warning the company of “unintended consequences” if it did not obey the rules, Reuters previously reported.

Prasad did not directly say on Tuesday whether Twitter had lost intermediary protections, but a senior government official told Reuters that Twitter may no longer be eligible to seek liability exemptions as an intermediary or the host of user content in India due to its failure to comply with new IT rules.

“There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbor provision,” Prasad tweeted. “However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from the 26th of May.”

Twitter, Prasad added, had chosen the “path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines.”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment though it said on Monday it was keeping India’s technology ministry apprised of the steps it was taking.

“An interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon,” it said. “Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines.

New Delhi-based digital advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation said it was only up to courts, and not the government, to decide whether companies such as Twitter remained intermediaries for alleged non-compliance such as appointment of executives.

Growing tensions between India’s government and US big tech have riled firms that have spent millions of dollars to build hubs in their largest growth market, to the extent some are rethinking expansion plans, people close to the matter have told Reuters previously.


France’s Macron calls for European tech company push by 2030

The latest plan to help European start-ups includes ramping up funding scheme. (File/AFP)
The latest plan to help European start-ups includes ramping up funding scheme. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 June 2021

France’s Macron calls for European tech company push by 2030

The latest plan to help European start-ups includes ramping up funding scheme. (File/AFP)
  • Macron outlines a strategy to create technology giants in France worth 100 billion euros by 2030.
  • France is leading a Europe-wide initiative to improve funding for start-ups.

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday outlined an ambitious push for Europe to create 10 technology giants worth 100 billion euros ($121.26 billion) each in valuation by 2030, in a bid to rival US companies that dominate the sector.

The goals are part of a Europe-wide initiative France is trying to lead to improve funding for start-ups, especially in their later stages of growth, to propel them into a bigger league where they can attract more investors and top staff.

Macron has pushed to make France into a “start-up nation” since coming to power in 2017, rendering the country more attractive to foreign investors through labor reforms for example.

French efforts to create “unicorns,” or companies worth at least $1 billion, are still overshadowed by US equivalents, however. Macron said last year he expected France to have 25 “unicorns” by 2025.

The latest plan to help European start-ups includes ramping up funding schemes, through EU-wide finances and by encouraging more venture capital funds to invest, according to a manifesto signed by some 200 businesses, which includes start-up association and other companies.

They also recommended modernizing regulations in Europe as well as creating competitive stock option schemes as part of initiatives to scale up European technology firms.


Anti-Arab speech surges on social media during Gaza clashes, survey shows

Anti-Arab speech surges on social media during Gaza clashes, survey shows
Updated 15 June 2021

Anti-Arab speech surges on social media during Gaza clashes, survey shows

Anti-Arab speech surges on social media during Gaza clashes, survey shows
  • Between May 6 and May 21, when clashes with Israel were most severe, hate speech against Palestinians rose dramatically in comparison with the same period in 2020
  • The same period also witnessed widespread censorship of Palestinian posts on social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

LONDON: Violent speech directed against Arabs and Palestinians on social media increased 15-fold during the recent hostilities in Gaza, a report has found. 

Between May 6 and May 21 when clashes with Israel were most severe, hate speech against Palestinians rose dramatically in comparison with the same period in 2020, according to the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, or 7amleh.

The center recorded 1.09 million posts on social media platforms, with 16.8 percent containing racism, slurs or incitement against Arabs. 

Among tweets shared widely, one reads: “A good Arab is a dead Arab,” while another reads: “Death to all Arabs.”

Most violent speech (58 percent) took place on Twitter, compared with only 8 percent on Facebook and 1 percent on Instagram.

The same period also witnessed widespread censorship of Palestinian posts on social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

7amleh documented 500 cases of digital rights violations of Palestinians, which included content being taken down and accounts being removed.

Tech giants have been the targets of strong criticism from users for censoring Palestinian content.

Facebook was the target of a coordinated social media campaign launched by pro-Palestine activists in an attempt to push down the app’s ranking on Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play.

While Instagram changed the way it displays content after claims of blocking Palestine-related content, other social media giants have been reluctant to take similar steps. 

Instagram said that the “stories” feature was built according to an algorithm that favors original content as opposed to existing and reshared posts. As a result, any Palestine-related content that was reshared from other accounts was pushed lower in the Instagram feed. 

Social media has been crucial for people in the Middle East to document and spread information on destruction of homes, forced displacement and violence.