Internet Governance

6th Middle East School on Internet Governance: Making the Internet Community Stronger in the Middle East

The 6th Middle East School on Internet Governance (MEAC-SIG) took place this year in Rabat, Morocco, from 8-12 July. First held in 2014 in Kuwait, the school is an annual five days of intensive workshops that aims to inform and strengthen the regional Internet community and ensure active participation in national, local, and global Internet Governance fora. This year, it was hosted by The National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT) of Morocco, and jointly organized by the Arab World Internet Institute, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Governance Project at Georgia Tech, the Internet Society, and RIPE NCC.

The MEAC-SIG faculty includes experts from academia, civil society, business, the technical community, and government stakeholder groups.

This year’s speakers included Milton Mueller of IGP, Internet Governance expert Hanane Boujemi, Miriam Khuene of RIPE NCC, Fahd Batayneh of ICANN, and many other notables. They covered topics such as the IETF’s standardization, GNSO processes, Regional Registries, IGFs in all their capacities, and the inception and a historical view of Internet Governance.

The discussions were carried out in an open environment where everyone contributed their ideas together with multiple stakeholder groups. These groups mentioned how they started their journey in Internet Governance, their current involvement, and how they work with different institutions. Opportunities for engagement and participation were presented to the participants.

The most important discussions took place around the workshops “Trademarks, Copyright, and Internet Governance” and “Cybersecurity as an Internet Governance Issue.” The two sessions presented by Riyadh Al Balushi and Hadi Asghari attracted much attention and dialogue from the participants.

These subjects, the most ambiguous from a legal perspective for the region, and most taboo as well were the highlights of Days 4 and 5. They provided much knowledge to the attendees, who did not always know their fundamental rights online.

On the last day, there were working groups for participants to cooperate with and develop solutions for their communities. Their peers and a group of faculty experts helped by advising them on best practices.

In the Middle East, which is lacking in necessary infrastructure and where there is a need for more information on cybersecurity, digital rights, and Internet Governance, the MEAC-SIG serves as a beacon, giving people knowledge, opportunity, and hope that they can help shape the Internet.

After all, the Internet is all of us, working together.

Image credit: Internet Society/Urban Pixel Lebanon

About Internet Society

Middle East Chapters Advocacy Meeting

Last month, the Chapters Advocacy Workshop for the Middle East, took place in Beirut Lebanon. The two-day event hosted Chapter leaders and representatives from  Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Palestine, Somalia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. While the focus was on MANRS (Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security), it also included representatives from the Blockchain SIG (Special Interest Group).

During the two days, we discussed many issues related to the Middle East Chapters and their concerns, the 2019 plan of the Middle East Bureau, the strategic vision for the Internet Society, and the 2020 planning process. We acquired feedback from the delegates on our plans and community facing processes. We had ample staff representation that contributed immensely to the workshop, including, Sally Wentworth, Salam Yamout, Konstantinos Komaitis, Sally Harvey, Nermine El Saadany, and Aftab Siddiqui.

Aftab initiated the workshop with an introductory session on MANRS. He gave a technical breakdown on what MANRS is about before moving onto a hands-on workshop. The second day opened with an introduction to the 2020 Strategic Plan, followed by a PEST analysis led by Sally. Participants gave feedback on what’s important to their Chapters and to themselves as members of the community. We then discussed the policy aspect of the work of the Internet Society, and the Middle East Bureau in particular. Finally, we discussed the Internet Society’s funding opportunities and the Internet Society Foundation resources available to Chapters and members.

The workshop concluded in the afternoon of April 6. A follow up to the plans produced by the delegates is on route. We look forward to next year welcoming new faces into our workshop!

Learn more about the fellows and the workshop!

Events Shaping the Internet's Future

Envisioning the Future in the Middle East

How can the brightest minds help transform the Middle East for the better? The MIT SciTech Conference hoped to find answers. The annual three-day conference, which took place 19-21 April in Boston, Massachusetts, brought together students and professionals from across North America and the MENA Region. This year’s theme was “Envisioning the Future: Cities of MENA,” and included an IDEAthon on Energy, Innovation, and Infrastructure.

Many people from all over the globe attended the conference, mainly Arabs who were also successful tech entrepreneurs, leveraging the Internet to reach communities across the world. They also spoke about their innovations and inspired the young participants, who included MIT students, through panels, keynotes, ideation processes, and SciTech talks.

The first day started with a tour of MIT Labs and the launch of the IDEAthon. After initial sessions and introductions, participants were left for the night to work on their ideas. Those ended up being presented at the end of the third day to judges, with cash prizes awarded to winners so that they could turn them into reality by implementing them throughout the Arab world.

Infrastructure is a challenge in the MENA region, especially with a rapidly growing population, and the conference showcased projects that use the Internet to address this. For instance, Swivl is a bus ride sharing app that’s making people’s lives easier in Egypt. The platform Womena enables women’s empowerment by showcasing success stories, mentoring women, and helping ideas to fruition.

The Internet Society was a sponsor of the event and fielded many questions about Internet infrastructure. People were keen to learn. For instance, the more the history of the Internet was shared, the more questions arose. To my surprise, many people don’t know much about the beginnings of the Internet, as well as how the Internet works. To some peoples’ awe, it’s not fully connected by satellites, but also by marine cables.

The Internet Society’s participation in the MITSciTech conference resulted in the following:

  • Establishing a connection between leading organizations in the Arab world and Arabs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Sharing our vision for an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet for everyone.

The event had a huge turnout, with more than 300 people attending. MIT SciTech was a platform for over 20 accomplished speakers and panelists and featured keynote speeches from the dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Urban Planning as well as high-level executive attendees, such as the chairman of Orascom.

An innovation exhibition followed day three of the event that showcased 15 organizations from the Arab world as well as our very own booth for the Internet Society. Next year, we hope to see that the ideas incubated at this year’s MIT SciTech Conference have made a positive impact on the Internet.