Friday, March 29, 2013

Mich Café up for 2 Social Media awards

I am so excited, happy and proud: Mich Café has been nominated in two categories at the Beirut Social Media Awards 2013.

The Social Media Awards (SMA) allow the Lebanese online community to nominate, vote for and award bloggers, journalists, content creators, community managers, public personalities, social media users and celebrities for their efforts in communication and online creation. There are 33 categories.

I was at work and offline when news of the nominations began to appear on Facebook and Twitter. But I soon caught up.

Amid the congratulations, there were these two tweets from my dear friends Liliane Assaf and Alexander McNabb:

Liliane A. @FunkyOzzi: So @mich1mich here’s a question before you become a hotshot *winks.* Why did you start #MichCafe?

Alexander McNabb @AlexanderMcNabb: @mich1mich @FunkyOzzi Hotshot tips? Do what Mich does -- blog with humanity, compassion and care. Share your honest thoughts and insights.

Alex is spot on! Mich Café is a labor of love and passion.

It is thanks, in great part, to the Lebanese online community that I started Mich Café. There were so many interesting blogs around, all listed at Lebanon Aggregator, a site created by Lilane. Somehow, it seemed very important to get on that site!

Unlike many other online communities, the Lebanon one is extremely active and vibrant.

My first encounter with this community was in November 2009, when I returned to Beirut after an absence of 20 years. I was greeted with a tweetup organized by Darine Sabbagh, who became a dear friend in real life and is one of the SMA judges. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Social media is part of the way of life in Lebanon. You can’t walk down the street without meeting at least two or three friends who are on Twitter or Facebook and have blogs. Even those I don’t know recognize me from my picture and stop to say hello.

Mich Café is my passion in that I can express my inner thoughts and write on topics I feel strongly about. These of course include my family and friends, human rights in general and women’s rights in particular. It is also where I share anything I am up to. Mich Café is, in one word, me.

The two categories Mich Café has been nominated in are:

Blog of the Year
  • Blog Baladi -- 
  • Gino's Blog -- 
  • Beirut Spring -- 
  • Hummus Nation -- 
  • Separate State of Mind -- 
  • Mich Café --
  • Beirut Boy --
Best Lifestyle Blog

  • Mich Café |
  • Let's tlk abt movies -- 
  • Homos Libnani -- 
  • Nads Reviews -- 
  • Architecture Lab -- 
  • If the bag Fits -- 
The finalists were announced at a press conference held Wednesday, March 27, at the Phoenicia Hotel. This followed a month-long nomination stage from the online community. There were over 600 nominations collected across the 33 categories.

Online voting for the finalists starts April 1 at The awards ceremony at the Phoenicia Hotel is slated for April 29.

The OC team: Ali El Dali, Omar Aridi, Aline Chirinian, Mohammad Hijazi, Darine Sabbagh, Nour Rifai and Ayman Jalloul
SMA is the brainchild of the American University of Beirut’s Online Collaborative (AUBOC) in partnership with Beirut popular RAGMAG Magazine to honor individuals and organizations that have demonstrated an exceptional presence in social media in Lebanon. (You can view the full list of nominees on RAGMAG's website.)

AUBOC aims to group social media enthusiasts and experienced individuals in the digital media world to help promote proper digital citizenship.

Mohammad Hijazi, chief collaborator of AUBOC and a judge on SMA2013, says in an interview with RAGMAG, “There is no objective organization evaluating and identifying the social media scene in Lebanon, and we hope the SMAs will provide a platform for people to be distinguished objectively, based on their social media presence.”

The OC, he explains is an initiative “I started back when I was a student at AUB. My initial aim was to gather bloggers and social media users under one organization to unify and maximize their online social effort. In 2010, our journey began with ‘Blogging Lebanon,’ a conference that shed light on the then upcoming blogging scene in Lebanon. Since then, we have held numerous workshops for students from schools and universities to teach them the proper usage of social media. We have also held entertaining events such as GeekFest Beirut 5.0 in 2012, several tweetups and informative conferences such as ‘Social Media Changing Lives’ in 2011. In addition, we are currently giving five technology related courses for senior citizens at AUB as part of the University for Seniors.”

The judges
The judges for the first annual SMA awards are:
  • H.E. Nicolas Sehnaoui -- Lebanese Minister of Telecommunications 
  • H.E. Tom Fletcher -- British Ambassador to Lebanon
  • Mohammad Hijazi -- Chief Collaborator Online Collaborative 
  • Darine Sabbagh -- Digital Consultant and Marketing Collaborator Online Collaborative
  • Nemr Abou Nassar -- Comedian and Performance Artist 
  • Fida Chaaban -- Editor in Chief RAGMAG Magazine
  • Omar Christidis -- CEO and Founder Arabnet 
  • Ziad Kamel – CEO The Alleyway Group
  • Leila Khauli Hanna -- Marketing Instructor at AUB
  • Octavia Nasr-- Journalist and CEO of Bridges Media Consulting 
  • Maya Zankoul -- Graphic Designer, Founder of Maya Zankoul Design
  • Shada Omar --TV Personality and Journalist
Thank you all for planning to vote for Mich Café starting April 1.

Good luck to the friends in the same categories. I am in extremely good company and it is a pleasure and an honor to be a finalist.