This post is long overdue. A week ago, I’ve had the good fortune of talking to one of the MENA ICT Jordan forum organizers. The gist of the talk was, how hard it was for her to find bloggers in Jordan willing to support the forum. In fact, before I decided to blog about it, the only other person was the brilliant Rani Dababneh from Jordanoholic. This made me recall the huge Jordanian presence at the Arabnet conference, and the ever-enduring question on everyone’s lips, “Why don’t we have good things like that in Jordan?”
I don’t want to get into the game of drawing parallels between Arabnet and MENA ICT, the fact is, they’re different conferences targeted at different people. I believe MENA ICT is particularly concerned at targeting policy setters in the industry, meanwhile Arabnet targeted almost everyone in the industry, with focus on the web and entrepreneurship. After I realised that, I realised why the ticket price was set so high, which was my main concern. But why should we still care?
We should care, because after all, this is our business. After I lost hope in attending, I still planned to know everything that will happen in MENA ICT through all mediums I had access to. You can’t just ignore a conference that may attract almost every potential employer or client you might ever get, and set trends that will certainly influence all of us for the upcoming years. At the pace our industry is moving, you just can’t afford to.
My other reason on why we should care, is that they listened. When MENA ICT first appeared on twitter, I was glad. Opening yourself to social media is a double-edged sword. It brings you much closer to your audience, which makes you vulnerable to criticism. I certainly didn’t give them any quarter by protesting the attendance fee, which I thought was expensive (After researching that average attendance fee for similar conferences is about $4000, I realised it wasn’t that much expensive.) I got the classic, “We’ll take that into consideration” from them, and I thought that was it. But they actually listened.
Now, I wouldn’t give any credit to my tweet, all the credit goes to the AmmanTT team. They actually managed to convince MENA ICT, with the support of HE Minister of ICT Marwan Jumaa, to hold the AmmanTT October event within the MENA ICT forum, with the same speakers from the main event, which is a brilliant idea in my humble opinion, as this gives the speakers the opportunity give presentations that are actually much more relevant to the broader ICT community, than the ones in the main event.
Even more, Oasis 500 sponsored 10% of the forums passes, which amounts to 30 passes, and started a video competition in which these passes would be given out, to give a chance to any brilliant person who would like to attend, but is a bit dissuaded by the attendance fee.
My last reason for why we should care, is that we’ve had enough negativity. If my experience with AmmanTT taught me anything, it would be that solidarity breeds success, for all. MENA ICT Jordan organizers listened to us, and for that they deserve a nice move on our part as a community. It wouldn’t hurt us as a techies if we all rallied around MENA ICT Jordan, and helped make it one of the best MENA ICT forums there ever was. Every one of us can be their own ambassador of our community, and we can all show the MENA region why we earned the right to host MENA ICT here. It should also hark back to our tradition of hospitality.
I’ve exhausted all of my positiveness, and I want to end this post on a good note. =D
I’ll try and keep you all posted on any interesting MENA ICT Jordan news either here, and on my twitter account. In case you’re interested in attending, and haven’t already applied, go to the website, or even enter the video competition!
P.S. If you’re you-know-who and you are wondering, no, they didn’t pay me anything to write this. =P