View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Twitter Saves a Life in the UAE and Rania the Greatest Twitterer in the Region?

Real Time Mass Communication
When an Aussie mum gave birth last week by Caesarean section in a Dubai hospital her need for a transfusion not only pointed up the desperate shortage of rare blood stocks in the Emirates (her type O negative) but it also revealed the power of Twitter and other forms of social networking.

Phone calls in vain to other hospitals underscored the shortage but then the new father texted his neighbor with an SOS who forwarded the request. Thanks to the message being relayed to thousands of people via Twitter and Facebook, hundreds of people within hours had pledged a donation of blood. [The mother, father and baby were at the last report all well!]

While various forms of social networking are often criticized as time-wasting dispensers of trivia, the Dubai hospital story illustrates the value of communication that happens in real time to hundreds and thousands of people.

Queen Rania on Twitter and Facebook
Queen Rania of Jordan has only been on Facebook (profile page) for a matter of months but already she has more than 26,000 friends or fans.

Every Facebook user can determine their comfort level in terms of personal disclosure but Facebook offers a way for celebrities to communicate and to speak intimately.

Queen Rania enables her friends to get past the ‘Your Majesty’ exterior not only to learn that she enjoys jogging and reading but to discover that she makes a mean chocolate chip cookie.

Facebook is a means by which celebrities and politicians can offer a controlled audience and appear close and personal to their subjects. The number of comments she receives to her updates is evidence of the way her friends feel close to the Queen.

Queen Rania has for a long time effectively demonstrated how YouTube videos (she has her own channel) can be used to foster values of tolerance and acceptance among a global community but more recently, she, like Oprah, has become a user of Twitter (profile page). In only a matter of weeks she has almost 73,000 ‘followers’ who look for her every word.

Again the Queen is able to drop personal snippets that people love to hear such as how her son refused to wear a suit to meet the Pope or news that her husband, King Abdullah, is flying a helicopter. But Queen Rania is using Twitter to get her message across, to break down prejudice and to foster dialog between people of different cultures and religion.

In a recent interview Queen Rania spoke of using Twitter and Facebook to change the world:

“I want to tell people more about Jordan, about my life and work, but also to campaign for quality, global education…. It’s only when we have a critical mass of supporters behind this issue that we will put every child behind a school desk.”

“Twitter’s one way we can do that. It’s about using social media for social change: creating a community of advocates who can use their voices on behalf of the voiceless, or leverage their talents, skills, knowledge, and resources to put more children into classrooms, or pressure their elected representatives to get global education top of the agenda.”

To read the entire interview, follow this link:
Roi Carthy, An Interview with Queen Rania of Jordan on How Twitter Can Help Change the World, TechCrunch, 19 May 2009.

Does Queen Rania have the largest followings on Facebook and Twitter than anyone else in the Middle East?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Queen Rania sending a tweet. (Photo courtesy of TechCrunch)