Digital revolution 'driving change'
Manama, June 21, 2011
Social networking sites have been credited with driving forward freedom of expression in Bahrain. However, it could take decades for such innovations to directly influence politics, said a journalist at a key seminar in Manama.
Al Wasat editor-in-chief Ubadyali Ubadyali made the comment as he opened the three-day MEET ICT Bahrain 2011 conference on Monday.
He said one of the biggest impacts of networks such as Facebook and Twitter was the ability to use them to communicate and mobilise, but said the Arab digital revolution was still catching up with the rest of the world.
'It is still very early in the dawn of digital age in the Arab world and a lot needs to be done,' he told the opening session of the three-day event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel's Bahrain Conference Centre.
Ubadyali is chairman of the organising committee behind the event, which brings together experts from the region and beyond, and chairman of the Bahrain ICT Suppliers Trade Association (Bista).
It is being organised by Gulf Future Business in partnership with eGovernment Authority and Economic Development Board, under the patronage of Cabinet Affairs Minister Kamal Ahmed.
'Just as Arab satellite channels helped revolutionise broadcast news, social media is arguably changing the nature of news and community engagement, which continues to evolve with increased convergence of social media and satellite broadcast,' continued Ubadyali.
'Blogging and social networking alone cannot be expected to bring about immediate political change, but it is the long-term impact, the development of new political and civil society engagement, and individual and institutional competencies on which analysts are focusing that will help.
'This will lead to even greater voice, political influence and participation over the next 10 to 20 years.'
He said technology and innovation had become key factors that contribute to economic growth in developed countries, forming a solid platform to build a modern and efficient knowledge-based economy that attracts foreign direct investment and creates employment opportunities.
'In Bahrain, we have recognised that information and communication technologies play an important role in contributing to the rapid progress and productivity growth to our business environment for international companies seeking to invest in the Gulf,' he added.
In his opening remarks, the minister said technology and innovation had become key factors to economic growth.
He said Bahrain had recognised information and communication technologies played an important role in progress and attracting international companies seeking to invest in the Gulf.
'Therefore, we have aimed at spreading knowledge as well as best practices in the ICT (Information Communication Technology) field to assist Bahraini society in implementing Bahrain's 2030 Economic Vision,' he added.
He said the contributions and co-operation of the private and government sectors were essential in driving ICT innovation and supporting Bahrain's economic growth.
'I am confident that with such events and experiences, Bahrain will be able to showcase its initiatives worldwide and be acknowledged as a regional ICT hub.'
More than 300 executives, specialists and experts in information and communication technology from 30 countries are attending the event, which is being held under the slogan The Convergence of ICT Leaders.-TradeArabia News Service