Queen Rania On Twitter

@QueenRania Dear Your Majesty, I hope this tweet finds you well. I should mention right off the bat that this tweet will be longer than the 140 characters typically allocated to me, but I’ll try my best to keep it short and well-worded as is often the case when addressing royalty. Your recent joining of the twittersphere has been well-publicized all around the world. Not so much in Jordan. So while the rest of the world gets a window in to your daily thoughts, Jordanians have been shut out unfortunately. That’s alright though. Generally, there have been various reactions to your twittering. Personally? I think it’s great. Discovering the social networking tools the Web has to offer is a well-served endeavor. Your tweets from the WEF recently were interesting enough to capture the attention of many, many readers. The 7iber team also tried to do something similar at the WEF with a group of young Arabs, all of whom seemed to admire you. However, there was one big difference and it is the point of this very message. No, it was not the fact that you are indeed royalty (and thus free to say whatever you like) and that they are ordinary young Arabs (most of whom come from countries, including Jordan, where they’re not allowed to say whatever they like). No. That’s not the difference I’m referring to. The difference was actually in the choice of platforms. You used the globally popular twitter. They used the Jordanian-born watwet. We wanted them to use something local. Mostly because we wanted to support a local, homegrown product by homegrown entrepreneurs – after all, the theme of this year’s WEF was about finding “homegrown strategies for success”, right? But also because you can do a whole lot more with watwet than with twitter. And while this group of young people were running around the WEF, watwetting their hearts out – not to mention blogging, live blogging and conducting interviews – the media spotlight on your twittering was all over the Internet. It made me stop and wonder what could have happened had you decided to use watwet instead of twitter. I stopped to ponder the kind of global and regional exposure a local company could have gotten simply by a single string of 140 characters written by a Queen. I stopped to imagine the conversation that might have unfolded, in both English and Arabic, on a platform that bridges both cultures. I stopped to picture the conversation of an audience that was both local and global. By using watwet, you would have easily been seen as supporting a regional platform, while helping to take it global as you would have probably received the same international media attention anyway (being a Queen), and at the same time, start a true dialog in two languages, between two worlds, on one platform. At the time, I half-understood the need to use YouTube as opposed to our homegrown Ikbis in order to reach a more global audience to discuss stereotypes. But twitter? I’m sure someone on your staff must have mentioned watwet in a meeting, no? In any case, while your efforts to communicate with public audiences are to be respected, I wrote this message to simply voice my disappointment as a Jordanian citizen over your choice of tools. Jordan is home to some of the most innovative technological pursuits in the region. There is a generation of IT entrepreneurs leading an online revolution. They are born right here in Jordan. And they could use some support and some exposure. These are our homegrown strategies. I should also point out that watwet is actually cheaper to use since you’d be sending an SMS to a local number rather than an international one. Oh, and now the good people at watwet have integrated the platform with twitter so that anything you put on watwet will go to your twitter account as well, in other words, you can use both simultaneously. All that being said, the simple point of this message was to encourage you, as someone who has a great deal of pull in this town, and indeed around the world – to support local and regional alternatives to their American counterparts. Someone of your caliber has the ability to catapult our homegrown products on to the global stage. And all it takes is 140 characters. Thank you.


  • The best argument for 140 characters I’ve ever read!

    Oh and watwet just rolled out a bunch of new features – including watwet/twitter link up. HMQ can have the best of both worlds 🙂

  • Ali: actually that’s already been done! watwet has an api for facebook: http://watwet.com/help/facebook

    mine is hooked up now. so technically, every time i use my cell phone to send a watwet to my watwet account…watwet updates my facebook status AND my twitter status.

    everything is connected to everything!

  • I beg to differ! I believe that Her Majesty will reach a much wider audience through twitter.

    Why to think local when the internet enables to go global? For instance Nas why do you blog in English when you are an Arab? Don’t you think you can reach to more Jordanians and Arabs when you blog in your own language?

    Sure promoting local projects is a great thing, but when it comes to someone like HM, spreading messages of peace and tolerance to the world won’t be achieved through local tools, how many Americans and Europeans are actually using Ikbis and watwet?

  • Samer: Well first, it is unfair to compare me and my blog to the queen and anything she does (online and offline). The reason I blog in english is because 1) I am comfortable with it and 2) it has the ability to target a foreign audience whom I want to engage with. I’ve never hid that fact.

    Now, those may be the very same reasons for the Queen, but watwet is in both languages, so it is unfair to say that language is really a barrier for watwet users.

    That being said, in terms of reaching a larger audience…

    Yes, a watwet audience is indeed more local and regional than twitter, which is predominantly american.

    However, are we kiddding ourselves here?

    Are we saying that Queen Rania, with all of her star power, cannot propel a local and regional platform on to the world stage simply by deciding to use it publically? This is a public figure who by simply choosing what to wear in the morning has the power to influence many people around the world who decide to buy that same outfit because they saw her wearing it during a photo-op. I guarantee you, that should Queen Rania decide to utilize anything local, and especially something that is this accessible to the entire world vis a vis the Internet, that people all over the world would flock to it. If nothing more, than out of pure curiosity or mundane idolizing.

  • ps. it goes to show the real point of this all, that the government is completely out of touch with their own people.

  • it’s a great idea to support local initiatives, but i don’t see the appeal of watwet. it’s not a creative local project – all they did was take a concept that was already out there (twitter), and copy it. why support the imitation when the real deal is out there?

    don’t tell me it’s the “arabized” version. that just sounds like a euphemism for “we added a little extra coding so you could text locally, but otherwise, ummm… it’s the same thing”…

  • @rumzi: all good things must come to an end…

    @confused: after reading your comment i understood the meaning of your screen name. the best i can offer you, in an attempt to help you clear your confusion, is to check out watwet and play around with it. there are many key differences to what you can do with watwet and not with twitter. that being said, it’s rather unfortunate to see your take on “arabized” versions of technology, especially when it comes to a region that is producing less than 2% of arabic content on the web.

  • Nas, I wasn’t comparing, and I didn’t say that language is barrier, but if you want your message to reach probably to your target, it’s better if you speak their language, their way.

    Do you think a message or a piece of news in As-Sabeel or Shehan newspaper will reach the same number of people compared to Al-Rai?

    Yes Her Majesty can influence the world by her presence, and she did! But also she is smart and knows how to utilize the right tools to spread the message, that’s what I think.

  • Do you think a message or a piece of news in As-Sabeel or Shehan newspaper will reach the same number of people compared to Al-Rai?

    Do you think if Her Majesty printed a daily column in As-Sabeel that it wouldn’t end up having the same reach as Al Rai by the end of the week?

    Samer, you’re thinking more like a business marketer than a political marketer. The right tools and platforms are necessary, yes. But, in this case, keep in mind the client and the product. The Queen can just as easily spread her message on a platform created by locals, and get that message across to the whole world, all the while killing several birds with a single stone.

    This is 2009.

    This is the World Wide Web.

    Information isn’t shackled anymore.

  • Although I salute the courageous nature of this post, I may also differ in four aspects.
    1- Audience: the nature of the proposed audience will govern the tool to use. To reach to global readers the main language is English and there is no debate here.
    2- Outreach: this will govern the exact tool to use and by using twitter (which I hate as a system) one will guarantee more audience and outreach due to the inter-connectivity of the twitter tool. This will give it a more added value than a local tool.
    3- The innovation of a local tool: to have a local version of twitter is like having a local version of facebook and all other social network applications. There are not “products” as much as “replicas” and I say this with all due respect to our local pioneers. If twitter was supported with another local platform will the Queen be also entitled and forced to promote the other local version as well.
    4- Freedom of choice: need not explain more.

    However I strongly agree with the need for role figures in Jordan like the Queen to support real local innovations and that can be done in a systematic way.

  • Nice discussion.
    Yup, Watwet is an Arabic version of Twitter, but then again the first car was a
    Benz Motorwagen…. doesn’t mean every other car is a ripoff of the Benz! Evolution and innovation.

    As for using local products, I don’t see why one can’t use both. Like Nas said, “This is 2009. This is the World Wide Web.Information isn’t shackled anymore.”… and yes, Jordanians with local and/or international prominence, could do a lot to publicize local product. One way is to use it at major events like the WEF, whether it’s using a local web service or wearing clothes from a local designer… granted, the local stuff should be up to international standards!

  • First, the reason why any influential figure joins a social media network is usually to bring his/herself closer to the people and destroy fame barriers. I ask the Queen why want to get personal with global audience, while your local audience still have a very long way to know you?
    Second twitter vs. watwet issue touches on a bigger problem of people’s perception that the foreign product is always better and cooler than the local. Have watwet been a replica of twitter should not be a reason to not support it. Ideas for how watwet can be more innovative does not only exist the minds of owners, but emerges out of interactions between the users as well or what is called the network effect. It is a collaborative effort.

  • Well done Naseem,
    Batir, the issue at hand is bigger than the technology being used, it is a theme that defined how royalty in Jordan interacts with audiences; while abroad the king gives interviews, he is asked tough questions, he rides his harley, and he dines in resturants. While we all can agree that the king will not be left alone if he decides to walk the streets of Jordan, I wonder what happened to his endeavor in the early days of his reign when he walked the streets in disguise?

    On a side note naseem,
    How many users does watwet have? IF the queen decided to go with watwet wolud she have been able to reach that much audience? Will she be able to follow the people she is now following? I would love to see the queen following a jordanian version of the Onion(Oh, can we have something like that?)

  • @Batir:

    1- Audience: the nature of the proposed audience will govern the tool to use. To reach to global readers the main language is English and there is no debate here.

    I absolutely agree. But, keep in mind that watwet is in both english and arabic. So again, both tools (twitter and watwet) are english-empowered tools.

    2- Outreach: this will govern the exact tool to use and by using twitter (which I hate as a system) one will guarantee more audience and outreach due to the inter-connectivity of the twitter tool. This will give it a more added value than a local tool

    I absolutely agree. But, keep in mind that figures who carry celebrity status have the ability to drive an audience despite the platform. If we are talking about an ordinary activist who has a cause and wants to speak to a global audience, then absolutely, twitter’s your tool. If we are talking about someone who just wants to be connected to an audience, and that someone has the ability to generate media hype around almost anything they do, then why not use a locally-produced tool that has global potential?

    See my point?

    3- The innovation of a local tool: to have a local version of twitter is like having a local version of facebook and all other social network applications. There are not “products” as much as “replicas” and I say this with all due respect to our local pioneers. If twitter was supported with another local platform will the Queen be also entitled and forced to promote the other local version as well.

    I have to agree with what Eyad cleverly points out in his comment. Just because one person created something that everything after it is a ripoff or a replica. In the US, people are historically encouraged to “buy american” even if the product (traditionally a car) has been proven to be inferior to its global counterpart. We have tvs, computers, and just about anything, all of which carry different brands offering different features and different services, revolving around essentially the same product. If we’re buying it anyway, why not “buy jordanian” (or in this case “sell it”)

    4- Freedom of choice: need not explain more.

    I absolutely agree. But, keep in mind that while people (and officials) have the freedom of choice, we are also free to offer commentary on those choices, and, in the interest of promoting something local, make alternative recommendations, as we tend to do on a daily basis with everything we buy and every service we, or others, consume.

  • @mohanned:

    How many users does watwet have? IF the queen decided to go with watwet wolud she have been able to reach that much audience? Will she be able to follow the people she is now following?

    Essentially, part of my argument here boils down to the fact that we are not talking about an ordinary citizen. The minute the queen goes on youtube or twitter, CNN and world media is suddenly reporting it as if news just broke about a civil war somewhere. In other words, there is a great deal of celebrity-power that the Queen is able to generate on a global scale. People in the media industry following every little thing she does. That kind of power is like a batch of electricity that has the potential to electrify anything she touches. In other words, had she decided to go with watwet, she would have been able to empower it, elevate it to a more global status, and in the process create that market reach that is going to follow her anywhere she goes anyway.

    It’s what I was saying before: yes Al-Rai has more readers than any other newspaper, but if the Queen decided to start writing for a lesser-known publication I guarantee you that that very publication would end up with just as many readers as Al Rai by the end of the week.

    And you know what, even if after all that celebrity power is used up you still end up with 30% less readers/followers than had you gone with the global product, that cost is offset by the 1,000% of good that emerges from using the locally-produced alternative.

    And in my opinion: it would be worth it.

  • While I don’t disagree with you, I think you have to keep in mind the goals of such “project”…Geting attention from some global figures to get some funding for the initiatives..

  • A great post Nas, I actually tweeted the Queen asking her why not check out local products, didn’t get a reply of course.

    On innovation and local products its not a black or white thing. The problem with creating an Arabic replica of anything I believe is not enough. Watwet does have extra features than twitter, some are very useful yet where are the people i want to connect to/follow today? its a social networking tool, like facebook, i would go where everyone is. The locality aspect needs more innovation to get me to watwet more than to tweet.

    My argument is for the Queen to use YouTube/Twitter as she wishes to, yet I believe opening an account at Watwet/Ikibs/Questler and others AS WELL is essential from two points:
    1. Supporting local initiatives, regardless if they were me-too startups or not.
    2. And most important is to try to talk to us, Jordanians and Arabs in her messages. As the need to change world perspective on us, we have a lot of homework to do back home where we really need to start conversations on many issues. The Queen’s brilliant spirit, intellect and drive could help inspire lots of us here in Jordan and the Arab world.

  • Nas – I agree with you on the fact that local products should be supported and encouraged. However, the examples you use / refer to are not quite applicable. A news paper could get popular if a celebrity starts writing there (good example would be when hajjaj joined al ghad). A car manufacturer in the US can replicate and even compete with german product. But this is different. The difference is in the Network Effects (which is kind of what razan is illuding to: Twitter/Watwet is a social network). It’s value is in the number of users. A good example would be a telecom company. E.g. Express has no value to you if all your friends are with Mobilcom. The more people you know on that are with Express, the more valuable Express is to you. You’re saying if the celebrity joins watwet, other people will. But, putting patriotism aside, a celebrity would not join watwet if the number of users is small. For watwet to succeed it needs to get on the twitter network and leverage the network effects that twitter has already built (which i understand it has?). For the queen to find watwet valuable, watwet needs to work seamlessly with twitter (i.e. she can still post on and receive from oprah winfrey’s twitter using the watwet platform). If that is not doable, then your plead is pretty much pointless, because watwet has virtually no value. (apologies if this is already doable).

  • Yeah I totally agree with Razan; why not supplement using the global tool, with at least supporting our home-grown products?

    Excellent post Nas. Though I must also add that even the channels HM subscribed to are very much geared towards Western audiences. In fact, Western-based media visiting Jordan (Axis of Evil is an example) have enjoyed far more support than any given Jordanian artist or band did. The exception to the rule has been Captain Abu Raed (probably because it graced a largely North American crew).

    Even the Youtube channel is a poor and misguided attempt: We are building a bridge to reach out to the West, instead of building a bridge for the West to reach us (e.g. promote our products, culture, people and arts).

  • This time around I like to refrain from comments, so I will not write any comment because the subjects it’s so vapid and very trivial that does not pose any real substance to the economic ,political, and social crisis we are discussing and facing at this juncture of history..

  • @ The Free Jordanian

    i swear sometimes one might think you are playing a comedy role with your comments, “sanfoor `3a`9oob” resembles it the most. but also “mr. i object” and “mr i am gonna give you a speech” titles would fit just fine as well.

    i can see you doing great on the theater. now your opinions are patriotic and i agree with alot of them most of the time, but you really can be too much man.

  • Here’s my thing on the East-West bridge… usually a visitor to Jordan or foreigner living here is blown away by the authentic local experience. They are stunned at local abilities – in art, science, music, food, architecture, whatever… They are not impressed when we try to mimic them and reach out to them thru means common to them. The ones who seek a true connection are not floored by the 5 star chain hotels, but a night with a bedouin family in Rum changes their lives. A ring from Wild Jordan’s Dana workshop is cherished with sincerity. A piece of hand made pottery from Silsal is priceless. A night at the Roman Theatre listening to Macadi Nahhas & Miteb Saqqar resonates. A bottle of local olive oil is the ultimate garnish. Everytime I Aramex something, I feel great. A conversation with a Jordanian storyteller teaches volumes. A sticky tea in a cafe in Hafayir on the shore of Aqaba at sunset is more memorable than tea time in a westernized gated community.

    Being Jordanian is so much more than a passport. It’s about eating Jordanian. Miniblogging thru Jordanian. Wearing from Jordan. Choosing coffee from a local chain. Using our own home grown courier/logistics service. And all that can come in many shapes and forms. It’s not about what is typical/authentic/traditional Jordanian or not. If it’s made by us in Jordan, it’s Jordanian. Simply.

    We are rich in so many ways when it comes to what gets made here and how it gets made, but we refuse to recognize that. Imagine if we all woke up tomorrow and proudly chose Jordanian. Imagine the incredible positive energy that will bind us. Imagine how much better the made in Jordan label can become if everyone wants to use it. Imagine how attractive it can become to export. Imagine how curious others will become when it’s so popular.

    I blog in English simply coz it’s my first language and my written Arabic is ridiculous. I’ve started to get some English posts translated into Arabic – they read a bit weird, but I think I’ll brave it soon and just put them out there. But almost always when I give a talk or presentation, it’s in Arabic with my bad grammar and inserted English whenever I get stuck.

    If foreigners are making more and more of an effort to learn Arabic and spend time in this part of the world to understand us, they will try watwet if they realize that’s where we all are.

    Getting local has an incredibly amazing power. If we all give it a shot, it will work. Faith in our own is what’s needed. Today in Jordan we have quite a bit of choice… the real question is, who do we want to really be?

  • @Nadine

    you made my day, i loved every word of your comment, a patriot open minded idealist, its been a long time since i heard from one, thank you ver much.

    @Nas, since you are busy i am replying to all comments today dont worry about it 😛 😀 😀

  • With all the money she spends lavishly on her self and her family( off course illegally) without any independent public scrutiny could be spent on more useful project the poor jordanian need most ,such as education,schools,a safety net programs that guarantees minimum human dignity, and medical insurance that could provide an adequate health care system I read once an article, her speech writers is paid thousand of dollars every month plus accommodations just to write some kind of sleazy and meaningless speeches about education “peace” and how Arabs can ” better their emage” in the west

  • Cool stuff! but I have one misgiving. I’ve always thought the point of celebrity twittering is to stay in touch with fans and admirers and followers. In the Queen’s case, that’s her people, us the Jordanians. And since the majority of Jordanians do not read, speak or write English, I am missing the point of Royal Twittering in English. But she can’t lose sight of her number one priority, staying in touch with us the Jordanian people. Nevertheless, I do admire her sense of innovation and willingness to embrace tools of modern mass communications. I think she was first before Obama to exploit the web for PR and campaigning. Go Jordan!!

Your Two Piasters: