Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dubai welcomes Octavia Nasr

Click here to join us at the Octavia Nasr tweetup!
Dubai, Sharjah, friends, fans, supporters, tweeps and facebookers -- all came out on Wednesday night (October 27) to welcome CNN's former Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs Octavia Nasr to the UAE.
I could not resist organizing a tweetup – i.e. a gathering of the virtual world friends -- when I heard Octavia (@octavianasr) was invited to participate in the October 26-November 6 Sharjah International Book Fair.
I have been following Octavia professionally for more than 20 years and it is thanks to @Twitter, Facebook and Social Media that we have become friends. It was with great pride that I, and surely many others, watched a young Arab girl appear on a major US TV channel and work her way up to Middle East Editor. It doesn't get much bigger than that for Arab TV anchors and celebrities.
I am always hesitant to organize tweetups. I was reluctant to organize my own birthday parties when I was young because I always thought no one would turn up. But Octavia helped me muster my courage when she told me, "Never mind, even if it's the two of us, we'll catch up." Well, ha, ha, ha, to me!!!  No sooner had the Tweetvite been posted online that it was flooded with views (1,422 and counting) and at least 30 people turned up at Reem al Bawadi, my favorite Dubai haunt.
Octavia gave a presentation on the opening night of the 29th Sharjah International Book Fair (@Shjintlbookfair) as part of an international tour to launch her new company, Bridges Media Consulting (@BridgesMediaC). She moves from hereon to the Lebanese capital for the GeekFest Beirut 3.0; then to Tangiers, Morocco, for MEDays 2010; and last to Boston, Massachusetts for the HBS MENA Conference.
In an interview with Abu Dhabi's The National on October 27, Octavia said the establishment of her own Atlanta-based media consulting company has allowed her more expressiveness. "The time has come for me to get on the road representing myself and everything I stand for. Through Bridges Media Consulting, I wish to be a voice of reason, a voice of moderation, a voice of expertise and best practices. I created Bridges Media Consulting to reflect what I've done in my career so far and serve as my platform to carry on making a difference in our world."
Joining us from the International Book Fair in Sharjah was Rupert Bumfrey (@rupertbu); Lisa Dempster (@lisadempster) from Australia and author of Neon Pilgrim; Cairo-based Marcia Lynx Qualey (@arablit), covering the fair for her blog Arabic literature (in English); and Zohra Saed (@MsTalibonita) and Sahar Muradi (@moosecha) the American/Afghan lecturers and authors of One Story, Thirty Stories, an anthology of contemporary Afghan American literature.
Wajiha, Alison, Layth, Noura, Octavia, Anastasia and Uzma
Also present were: Samer Jamal (@sameray), Anastasia Mankhaeva (@TDAllonsy), Jenny Saleh (here from the US and heard about the tweetup on Facebook), PK Gulati (@PKGulati), Maher Sbenati (@sbenati), birthday girl Alison Lehr (@AlisonLehr), Ashraf Al Amritti (an Al Jazeera English TV producer in Dubai from Gaza), Karla Castle (@kangayayaroo) and Paul Castle (@DaddyBird), Mita Ray (@mita56), Octavia’s cousin Huda Nasr, Wajiha Said (@wajihasaid), @DubaiJazz, Layth Barzangi (@barzangi), Uzma Atcha (@Lhjunkie), Samer Chami (@_BigSam_), Sayed Abu Diwan (Syd_Congrejo), Huda (@_hudz_), Tarik (@urbanhostage), Noura Nasrallah (@PurpleNaNo), Labiba Laith (@LabibaLaith) and Rami Kayyali (@cubex).
Samer, Alison, Octavia, Jenny and Sahar
We were fortunate to have a whole section of Reem al Bawadi assigned to us exclusively. We were able to exchange places, introduce ourselves and chat to each other and to Octavia. Once released from the constraints of "political correctness," Octavia shared many stories and experiences with the gathering. And, well into the night, we were kindly treated by Reem to “Arabic sweets on the house.”
This is what Social Media is all about -- eventually meeting (in person rather online) people from all over the world and from different professions and nationalities. These are the hallmarks of “sharing” and “social.”
Thank you Octavia for joining us and thank you all for turning up, sharing and bringing about a great evening.

(You can click here to see all the tweetup photos)