Bahrain election campaigns on social media
Manama, August 30, 2014
Hi-tech election campaigns are taking Bahrain by storm this year as more candidates than ever before turn to social media to get their message across, a report said.
Online services such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are already a flurry of activity ahead of the national polls, which are due to be held in November - and some candidates are going a step further by uploading personalised messages for voters via their very own YouTube channels, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
"If we can make an impact on social media and reach the masses, then we also stand a good chance of winning," said Khalid Al Shaer, who is contesting a seat in the Central Governorate's fourth constituency, which covers parts of Isa Town and Zayed Town.
"Everyone is connected to social media and I think this is the best way of communicating directly with the voters, without wasting too much time. I am using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and even text messages to get in touch with people."
Al Shaer, who stood for election in 2010 but failed to secure a seat in parliament, said he had been visiting families in his area to garner support and collect mobile phone numbers.
The businessman added that he had already launched his election campaign by posting YouTube videos highlighting citizens' concerns.
"I uploaded a video recently on my YouTube channel in which I spoke about the problem of housing and other social concerns," he said. "Once I have formally registered then I will use social media even more to communicate with citizens."
Former Interior Ministry employee and prospective MP Mohammed Al Qooti said he was also using WhatsApp as part of his campaigning.
"I am hoping to represent Safra and the adjoining areas and intend to get good support from the people," he said, adding that he was sending a short biography to his mobile phone contacts to highlight his academic achievements, work history and election plans.
Businessman Mahmood Al Namliti, meanwhile, has adopted a different approach and is urging voters in the Capital Governorate to fill in a short electronic survey that he has prepared. I compiled a short online survey with five questions asking people to list their concerns in order of priority," he said.
"The list includes issues such as housing, labour accommodation, development of the old Manama Suq and others. It just takes a few minutes to fill in and once I get enough responses, I can analyse the feedback received and work on those areas."
Al Namliti is promoting his campaign through a personal website, where he has uploaded photographs and details of the work he has done over the years.
The GDN reported on Tuesday that election organisers were in the process of launching official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts that would answer citizens' enquiries, allow them to air their grievances and file complaints as well as highlight issues with the election process online.
More than 318,000 Bahrainis were eligible to vote in the last general elections, when authorities reported a turnout of "at least 67 per cent". – TradeArabia News Service