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

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Twittering the Emirates

Twitter seems to be sweeping the UAE with new users springing up as fast as swine flu is knocking down the Australians.

Tweeting Views and Feelings
Many of the tweets are ordinary and mundane but so is life. This is the simplicity of Twitter. It asks the question, ‘What are you doing?’ to which you provide your answer in 140 characters or less.

Today the tweets coming out of Fujairah (where I live) were feelings about the heat:

Timwhite90 tweets: “just off to Fujairah for the day, beautiful blue sky but 38 degrees so HOT HOT HOT.”

Riel505 tweets: “back from JAL hotel in Fujairah - lovely place! It was just too hot to really enjoy the beach. enjoyed the pool and great food though!”

Tweets can be sent by computer but perhaps more often by one’s mobile phone.

Celebrity Tweeting
Celebrity users have enabled ‘followers’ to feel like they are coming close to them, thus developing the allegiance of their fans and creating the illusion of friendship.

Fans like to hear what their heroes are thinking and doing—Ellen (‘I’m taping my TBS special right now.’), Oprah (‘Today went to see Phylicia Rashad in August: Osage County’), Britney (‘I want to thank everyone at the Mandarin Oriental in London for their hospitality this month’), Barack (‘Just finished a Town Hall discussion on responsibility and fatherhood with five remarkable fathers’) and Rania (‘I may be a bit biased but I believe Jordan is a very safe country.’)

Tweeting Nonsense
Many are calling their use of Twitter an addiction, a way to waste time when work is boring. Twitter seems to suggest questions or themes to which people can throw in their dirham’s worth.

At the moment people are invited to finish the sentence with ‘Do not use Twitter….’ Some of the responses include the following:
* Do not use Twitter in the bath.
* Do not use Twitter while you are making love.
* Do not use Twitter to say ‘I do.’
* Do not use Twitter to talk s#@t about your boss.

Tweeting Issues of Urgent Concern
Stories in the UAE news like the highly publicised case—‘Twitter Saves a Life in the UAE’—in which blood donors were needed urgently by a Dubai hospital—have won Twitterers to the cause or observers to recognise some of its important uses.

Often people check Twitter to keep in touch with a ‘trending topic’ or a breaking news story. At the moment Rosemary Church of CNN has just twittered, ‘No violence from Iran election rally so far but a lot of intimidation from heavily armed police.’ The use of Twitter in Iran to get news in real time and to many people, at a period when traditional media networks were either sluggish or muzzled, has enabled people to see its use as a tool of protest and a means of voicing solidarity with the oppressed.

Grabbing Attention
In a superficial analysis of UAE Twitterers, by far the major use of Twitter is to say ‘Look at this!’ and then provide a link to a blog posting, a special rate on a Dubai hotel or some cheap fares on a weekend diving excursion up the Musandam Peninsula. Twitter has become an important business tool.

Statisticians are revealing that a large proportion of hits on web sites are now coming through Twitter. The rush is on to build up one’s list of ‘followers’ (as distinct from Facebook ‘friends’) in order to enlarge your audience and potential market.

Programs abound and messages are being spammed whereby people are told they can get without cost 400 followers in a day or many more if they pay a VIP fee. People decide whether they follow or allow themselves to be followed or both.

UAE Twitterers
As bloggers have several web forums such as the UAE Community Blog and Bloglines: Dubai Blogs, there are several UAE directories emerging on which people can register and have displayed their Twitter statistics.

Twitter Counter is one such directory that keeps a tally of the top Twitterers in the world (at the moment aplusk from Teheran is the most followed with 2,290,644 followers, way ahead of Ellen DeGeneres at second place who has 1,993, 472).

Of the UAE Twitter users, 2067 are listed at the moment, with Sunil Jaiswal of Dubai at the top of the list with 18,461 followers. Much more statistical information with graphs is provided on every Twitter user’s rise and fall.

Are there any other important UAE Twitter directories that should be mentioned?

Getting into the Social Media Spirit
The UAE and other lists around the world indicate that huge numbers register with Twitter and Facebook but neither use them much, nor build a network and interact with their virtual community. Many have deliberately registered simply to taste and see whether this is a good investment of their time or beneficial to their business or cause.

Please leave your comments about Twitter, in particular, about why you use it or why you have left it, the tools you find helpful and the forums you think are worthwhile.

Connect With Me
And, while I am on a roll, do accept my invitation to connect with me here on Twitter and also on Facebook.

Most Popular Recent Articles on Experiencing the Emirates:
Is it OK for Women to Go Topless on UAE Beaches? ETE.
First the Swine Flu Sermon, Now a Sermon on Responsible Driving in UAE, ETE.
New Property Regulations in the Emirates, ETE.

Most Popular Recent Articles on Fujairah in Focus:
Make a Date to Come to Fujairah for the Harvest, FIF.
Things to See and Do Along the Fujairah Corniche to Kalba and Oman Border, FIF.

Dr Geoff Pound