Friday, November 11, 2011

Twitterians for Lebanon government

The French Revolution originated in the “French literary salons.” That's where middle-class intellectuals and liberal nobles discussed the works of Voltaire and Rousseau and pondered the ideas of civil society and social change, progress, spiritual-versus-government authority and government reform...

A “Lebanese political salon” opened this month on Twitter with both former Prime Minister Saad Hariri (@haririsaad) and his successor Najib Mikati (@najib_mikati) taking to the social media platform to communicate with the online community.

Hariri went online November 4 to take questions and explain his position on various current affairs topics. He addressed issues connected to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, his anticipated homecoming, the fortunes of his Future Movement, the Syria Spring, his children and scuba diving…

He also spoke about Harley Davidsons (thanks to George Elkhabbaz, @UXSoup) and Batman (thanks to Angie Nassar, @angienassar)!

“I miss Beirut and I miss Lebanon, but mostly I miss the people,” he tweeted. Hariri has been out of the country for about six months.

With many people still skeptical about whether it was Hariri in person tweeting, he said, “It’s me, Saad, you are talking to. Believe it.” 

Premier Mikati joined the social media fray 48 hours later by engaging in a twitter Q&A session that involved the British ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher (@HMATomFletcher) ahead of his November 7 meeting with his British counterpart David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.

If only several hundreds knew about Twitter in Lebanon, tens of thousands do now. By November 8, Mikati followers had jumped to 5,050. Hariri’s were up to 13,518 by then. And by the time he finished his nightly session, he had 14,279 followers and 20,231 this Friday morning (November 11).

This outbreak of digital politics got me thinking of suggesting to Mikati, Hariri or whoever heads a new Lebanese government in future to co-opt an “Advisory Cabinet” of Twitterians.

I am sure I missed many Twitterians when drawing my list of candidates for such a Government Advisory Cabinet. So please feel free to add or delete nominations. We might eventually propose an ideal lineup.


(My list of “portfolios” is drawn from the Government of Lebanon website. I just omitted the Office of the Minister of State. The short bios are taken either from Twitter or the person’s blog)

Najib Mitri (@LeNajib) – Blogger at BlogBaladi.

Samer Chami (@_BiGsAm_) -- Do I really need a bio? Tech freak should be enough...

Displaced Persons
Saad K. (@SeenKaf) -- In communications; an aspiring documentary producer, embraces human rights, activism, reform, film, photography, street art and cultures.

Post and Telecom
Antoine Naaman (@_Ant1_) – Digital marketer obsessed with mobile phones, video gamer, movie buff, tweeting mostly about technology.

Amer Tabsh (@arzleb) -- Consultant, TV producer and journalist; tech and science addict.

Foreign Affairs & Emigrants
Octavia Nasr (@OctaviaNasr) -- CEO at BridgesMediaC, Middle East expert, blogger and social media advocate.

@BeirutBilArabeh -- Trying to make a damn difference... but what difference does it make?

Sana Tawileh (@SanaTawileh) -- Founder of

Mustapha Hamoui (@Beirutspring) -- Blogging about Lebanese society, business and politics since February 2005. Originally from Tripoli and living and working outside of Lebanon. A computer geek, especially when it comes to experimenting with web programming and design.

Liliane Assaf (@FunkyOzzi) -- Software Developer/SEM/SEO womosapien. Liliane writes more blogs than can be counted, among them Lebanon Aggregator, started in 2006 “about Lebanese blogs, gathering different opinions from different backgrounds, a variety of perspectives and interests written in different languages; politics, art, photography, paintings, comics, recipes, and poetry. From Lebanon, to Lebanon and about Lebanon.”

Youssef Alam (@JoesBox) – “I have a passion for marketing, food, photography and all things social media related. Living and loving Lebanon.”

Rawan Abu Salman (@rawanabusalman) -- Marketing and social media specialist. Passionate about technology, gadgets and the online world.

Paola Salwan Daher (@CafeThawra) -- An Arab, Lebanese, resistant and feminist author.

Joelle Hatem (@Joellehatem) -- Runner, biker, reporter, activist, feminist, existentialist.

Youth and Sports
Mohamed Harb (@figo29) – “I watch football.”

Hussam Al-Oueini (@sam_lb) -- A tech-geek, hardcore Apple fan, snowboarder and adrenaline junkie enjoying life.

Samer Chehab (@meetsamer) -- Collector of words, casual traveler, takes photos at times, content strategist in daytime.

Nadine Moawad (@nmoawad) -- Full-time activist, blogger, researcher, organizer, feminist, leftist and secularist.

Brigitte Khair (@Brigitte_khair) -- Head of UNHCR's External Relations Hub for the GCC-Abu Dhabi, blogger, skier, a lover of politics and an unrepentant chocoholic.

Higher Education
Magda Abu Fadil (@MagdaAbuFadil) -- Veteran journalist, blogger, director of the Journalism Training Program at the American University of Beirut.

Public Works and Transport
Rami Fayoumi (@Plus961) -- IT Auditor who tweets and blogs about everything.

Interior and Municipalities
Assaad Thebian (@Beirutiyat) – Journalist, blogger, social media consultant, activist and photographer.

Racha Ghamlouch (@LebaneseVoices) –…Because those that should be heard have no voice, but those that shouldn't have media stations...”

@Buzz81FMB, 10 years in the financial markets, FX, futures, socio economy.

Walid Khalife (@Dashkoun) – The online community’s accountant!

Ghassan Deeb (@gabdallah) -- Engineer, cook and traveler along with a never-ending smile.

Economy and Trade
George Elkhabbaz (@UxSoup) -- UX consultant, interactive manager, blogger, and contributor. An IxD/Mobile/Apple fiend.

Alexandra Tohme (@alextohme) – Digital strategist in bed with the Middle East startup crowd; likes tech, innovation and communities.

Public Health
Paty M. (@PatyAMag) – A licensed dietitian and nutrition consultant who is passionate about food and nutrition.

Georges Azzi (@AZZI) -- Medical doctor, MD.

Social Affairs
Darine Sabbagh (@sdarine) -- Passionate marketer and traveler, a dabbler in professional translation, copywriting and amateur photography; a firm believer in SEO, wishful thinking and chocolate.

Naeema Zarif (@Naeema) -- Integrated media consultant, enthusiastic supporter of open culture. Utilizing visual and social strategic skills to advocacy projects around the Middle East region, and beyond.

Should we maybe add these advisors too?

Mireille Raad (@migheille) -- Words I don't like: minion, consultant, entrepreneur, cloud computing; words I like: avant-guardist, hactivist, grid computing, freelancer, art, infographics.

Fadi Nammour (@footnem) -- Tweeting about tech, photography, music, football and F1. Adrenaline junkie, extreme sports lover and living in my own Matrix Universe.

Abir Ghattas (@abzzyy) -- An activist, photographer, media planner and a gamer with the superpower of Software Engineering.

Mher Krikorian (@krikorianM) – Takes photos mainly of Lebanon and chiefly Beirut. “I like to take photos nonstop, I call it my passion. I love doing it and sharing it.”

Rita Kamel (@ritakml) -- Street photographer, social activist, geek, HR marketing with a blog!

Gustav (@LeGustav) -- Offering some of the finest desserts in town.

Poets laureate
Pascal Assaf (@PascalAssaf) – Narcissist, liberal, existentialist and your friendly neighborhood writer. “I believe Time is my friend and Angels are us. “

Mohammad Badr (@mhdbadr) – Marketing and branding consultant, poet and photographer.

@maeiva – “I have as many names as my moods, I wear identities as if slippers forgotten under the bed and mimic the faces of life, I live as an actor caught in play by the strings of imagination. The spotlight sometimes follows and some days I just bathe in utter darkness.”

Gino Raidy (@GinoRaidy) -- A militant biologist… if that makes sense!

Ziad Kamel (@ZiadKamel) -- Beirut-lover, founder/CEO of The Alleyway Group. Treasurer of the Syndicate of Restaurant Owners in Lebanon.

Mohammad Hijazi (@mhijazi) -- A passionate marketer, blogger and president of AUB’s Online Collaborative.

Misho Richa (@MishoRicha) -- Working very, very hard at the Lebanese University to become a doctor.

I am sure there are many more names to be included here. These were chosen from my timeline. Please suggest, add or delete as you deem fit in the comments section and we should be able to get this cabinet right.

P.S.: I didn’t link the twitter handles to their pages. You can do so by putting the @name following!/_______.

Related posts:

❊ Lebanese Prime Ministers Play with Twitter –

The Zu’ama Discover Twitter… -- by Elias Muhanna (@QifaNabki) and Maya Zankoul (@MayaZankoul)

Saad Hariri & Ziad Baroud on Twitter -- BlogBaladi

Hariri & Mikati playing on our Twitterground -- From Beirut with Funk (by @FunkyOzzi)