Arabic blogs vie for German competition

Eleven blogs have been nominated to the shortlist in the Arabic-language category for the BOBs, a yearly competition of international blogs sponsored by the Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international news broadcaster, along with other partners.

Voters can choose the best Arabic blog of 2011 by voting on the website until 2 May. The Arabic category is one of 17 in the competition, in addition to other languages and specific categories, such as education and culture. While Egyptians are not represented among the blog category, some local groups are featured in other categories.

Harassmap, a local website dedicated to tracking where sexual harassment occurs, is nominated for “Best use of technology for social good” category. The YouTube channel of Mosireen, an independent media collective of citizen journalists, is nominated for “Best video channel.” Mosireen’s channel has more than 3,000 subscribers and has covered most of the important events over the past 14 months, since Egypt’s revolution began, in ways that mainstream media have not.

In addition to the honor of winning the competition, winners of the awards will be invited to visit Berlin to receive the them at the end of June as part of the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum.

The criteria for the competition of the language categories this year is quality analysis and commentary on current events.

Palestinians bloggers dominate the Arabic competition with three blogs. On his blog Kana Honak (He Was There), Khaled Safi, a web designer in Gaza, covers a wide range of topics, from football to Islamic identity and films to the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He even offers tips for Friday sermons.

Saudi blogger Tirad al-Asmari introduces via his blog Holm Akhdar (A Green Dream) a view from inside Saudi society. Asmari also publishes lyrics of a song he wrote and a short documentary he made about unemployment in Saudi Arabia. The jury preferred him because he “challenges existing stereotypes about Saudi Arabia and discusses issues related to poverty and minority rights in the Kingdom.”

Trella is a Lebanese blog belonging to Emad Bazzy, who became known by Egyptians last year when he was prevented from entering Egypt. Some speculated this was because of his plan to meet with controversial Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil. Bazzy’s blog shows an effort toward design and his long experience with blogging, while his posts vary between Lebanese internal issues and freedom issues in general.

Khedr Salama, the other Lebanese nominee, runs the blog Jou3an (Hungry), focusing on Lebanese and other Arab issues. He considers himself one of the sufferers of hunger and wars. Salama’s blog is not only nominated to be the best Arabic blog, but it is also one of the 11 blogs nominated to be the best blog of the world.

The Jordanian blog 7iber (Ink) is carried out by six bloggers and addresses social and political issues. The blog opens its doors to anyone’s contributions and collects contents of Jordanian bloggers. 7iber is similar to Egyptian blogs like Manalaa and Omraneya, which aggregate content, though the Jordanian blog has a more user-friendly design to encourage readership.

Fouad Wakkad, the owner of the blog Fouad, describes himself as Amazigh Moroccan. The jury wrote that they appreciated that he is one of the few Moroccan bloggers writing in Arabic rather than French. The jury also commended a blog post by Wakkad encouraging other Moroccans to blog. Khaled Zaryouly, another Moroccan, was also nominated for his blog, Khaled, but withdrew from the competition to encourage people to vote for Wakkad.

Though there are no Egyptians this year, Egyptian bloggers have been prominent in the BOBs competition since it began. In 2006, Haisam Yehia won the Arabic award for his blog Jar El Kamar (Neighbor of the Moon). In 2008, Ahmed Abdalla won with his blog O7od, and last year the best Arabic blog went to Eman Hashim with her blog Thawrat Al Banafseg (Violet Revolution).

Twelve judges comprise the jury of this year’s competition in all the categories, among them the Egyptian blogger Tarek Omar, owner of the blog “Kelmeteen” (A Couple of Words). Names of the winners will be announced on 2 May after voting closes.

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