Mizuka, Yoshiaki Ohkami, Keiji Takeda, and Maria Yogo

I just got back from my second trip to Dubai. (Flickr Set)

I first visited Dubai (Flickr Set) with Jay Dvivedi and Mr. Yashiro after our trip to Bahrain (Flickr Set) in December 2007. The Bahrain trip was to attend a conference organized by Della van Heyst.

The trip to Bahrain and Dubai last year, combined with my recent interactions with my Creative Commons team in the Middle East made me understand just how important this region was culturally and politically and how completely ignorant I was about everything going on there.

Since December of last year, I've been working hard to try to understand the region by talking to Mohamed at Al Jazeera, Donatella who is working for Creative Commons in the region and everyone else I know who knows a lot about the Middle East. However, I realized that there is only so much you can pick up second hand.

I spent a week in Dubai with Mizuka meeting various people. I met some local Japanese including Japanese Ambassador Hatano (in Abu Dhabi), Hiro Hosoi of NTT Communications, Mr. Takeda and Mr. Ohkami from Keio University and Maria Yogo. I hung out with Jay and his friends Balall and Nazia as well. (Special thanks to Jay, Balall and Nazia for spending so much time taking us around.)

My conclusion after this visit is that I really want to spend some time getting to understand the Middle East and that I will make Dubai my base because of the strong infrastructure, relatively freedom and proximity to the rest of the Middle East and eventually Africa (which I want to get into next.)

Luckily, it looks like there will be plenty for me to do. I'll be visiting Jordan in November to speak at a university there about CC, then I've been invited back to Abu Dhabi again in November to speak as well. (This is possibly not confirmed...) It looks like we'll be doing something with Al Jazeera in Doha next year as well. (Stay tuned...)

Also, Creative Commons has a relationship with Ziad Marqa in Jordan and Hala Essalmawi at The Library of Alexandria in Egypt and I'm looking forward to spending more time with them.

Anyway, I plan to spend an increasing amount of time in the Middle East and will try to document it a bit more thoroughly than I've been documenting my travels recently. (Yeah, I'm slacking on my blog. Sorry.)

6 Comments

Very interesting journey. I wish i can attend your talk someday.

It is so true that nothing beats first hand experience. I've been living here for almost four years now and I'm still find myself often delighted, suprised and confounded!

Looking forward to hosting you!

Arabic Gulf (sensitive term issue) people are too active in Middle east and they are investing a lot of money in knowledge economy. Dubai presents many freedom aspects but the Internet filtering is a awful side.
For Africa and in particular Arabic speaking countries in north Africa, it will be great if you go there and especially in my country Tunisia which there is CC license project but is frozen now. there are cultural differences between North Africa and ME even we speak the same language and have the same religion (not all Arabs are Muslims and not all muslims are arabs)
Aljazeera has great project through it is Aljazeera labs where there are many active people (more of them are twittering too) and it is really different than image drawn by western press.

Hi Rafik i agree on what you wrote..i have been living in syria for a while now and, even if i studied the arab region and the language for many years, i felt like nothing was comparable to this great first hand experience. And the Arab world is such an interesting place where to be! btw i'd like to know more about what you said on CC project frozen in Tunisia. why is it frozen?it would be very useful for me to talk to you since i am working with the CC team in the region and there are lots of things we should understand. The first Arabic draft of CC license 3.0 is now open to public discussion, pls visit the CC Jordan page. Shukran! Donatella

NUS BINGO organized a business trip to the Middle East (UAE, Qatar & Egypt) back in 2007 and I was part of the delegation team!

It is amazing how oil money has transformed Dubai and Doha from a desert to what it is today. Knowing that its natural resources will eventually be depleted, they are investing a lot of money into setting up knowledge city, internet city, sports city and etc with the intention of making themselves a first class country with first class citizens.

I was also astonished to see how Dubai in particular can achieve the unachievable. The tallest building, the only 7 star hotel, the longest, the biggest, the most expensive are all in Dubai! I once talked to a foreign entrepreneur in Dubai why he chose Middle East over other places.

He simply put it in an interesting way.
Country A:"Do you think we can build a 30km tunnel in 3 years time?"
Country B:"No way! We have to take the cost, the feasibility and etc into account"
UAE (Dubai):"We will start building a 300km tunnel tomorrow."

The visit to Al Jazeera Headquarter in Doha was a great eye-opener! Not to mention the state-of-the-art facility inside the headquarter, I was particularly impressed by what they are doing. Undeniably, Al Jazeera is the best in the world in promoting freedom of press.

Chew Gui Liang
Chief Project Director
NUS BINGO East Asia Business Trip

I have to say, I get more and more interessted in this kind of work you do. Very interessting to see some middle eastern pov to that topic.

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