Saturday, May 12, 2012

In a land far away lies the huge kingdom of Twitterville; one that has no geographical or cultural boundaries.

At a click you can start interacting with people from all over the globe, and whether you are interested in social issues, latest news, religion, politics, arts and literature, sports, a couple or even all of the above, you are bound to find hundreds of people who share your passions.
This social networking application, which has became quite popular in the UAE, is a part of most Emirati youth's daily routine.

"While Twitter helps me stay updated with the latest political news and updates that interest me, since I follow a lot of experts from my field, one of my main uses of Twitter is to raise awareness through interacting with different groups in society, including the youth," Emirati professor of political sciences at UAE University Ebtisam Al Katbi told Gulf News.

Abdullah Al Nuaimi, a 25-year-old teaching assistant in economics at UAE University, said: "I read tweets, interact with them, and join different conversations. "Twitter is a hub that a lot of young Emiratis use to express opinions and share points of view regarding social issues that concern them. For example, the quality of health, education, and the role of institutions in civil society. Having initiated and moderated several Twitter discussions myself, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of positive interaction and feedback that they have generat
Crucial discussion

Twitter has not only become a fast tool of communication and discussion but is also a powerful method of spreading messages, which Emiratis interested in social work, charity and philanthropy make full use of.
"It also made me and a lot of people my age realise how crucial it is to have similar discussions in a social platform outside the virtual world, where we can share concerns and come up with innovative ways to help in the development of our nation."

"Through one tweet, I was able to initiate a first-of-its-kind post National Day clean-up campaign that spread across the UAE in less than 24 hours with more than a 100 contributors of all ages," 22-year-old Hamad Al Shirawi, co-founder of Cleanup Jumeirah, said.

Besides the insight on their community, Twitter has given many Emiratis the chance to connect with people from across the Middle East.

"I tweet from different social events that I attend, in order to raise awareness and encourage discussions," 26-year-old Wafa Khalfan, founder of Salfa Media, added.
Field of research
Saqr Al Merri, a 25-year-old student studying translation and interpretation at the American University of Sharjah, said: "Twitter allows me to follow researchers in linguistics and translators. It also enables me to have candid and serious discussions with users, particularly those interested in my field of research.

"Through Twitter, I keep in touch with fellow young researchers in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman. I am informed of their latest research activities and interesting conferences."While there are the pluses to the platform, there is also the negative, wherein people use it to behave in an irresponsible manner."People are quick to assume a bias, and the limited potential for depth and breadth of exposition on Twitter makes it very difficult to overcome these divisions. What ends up happening is a polarising of society on a variety of issues with very little space for discussion," 26-year-old Muath Al Wari, a graduate student at the London School of Economics, said.

"Before providing people with any platform for debate and discussions, you need to make them aware of the fundamentals of debate," said Maria Hanif, a 26-year old country programme officer at a Dubai-based philanthropy organization.

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