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Very informative and strong group of participants and excellent dialogue. We have seen a very good conversation on cyber security regarding not just Oman but the entire region.
Senior Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton

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Interview with Adel Maymoon

Adel Maymoon
Founder & CEO, Tawasul
Should there be a national social media policy, and what are the key considerations in designing such a policy?
There should be a national social media strategy which will define the major objectives of all of the government’s presence on social media networks. This strategy will be the backbone of all social media interaction with the public and will support the communication process in the future. One of the major objectives is to deal with the enormous growth in the social media sphere and to reap the constructive and valuable results for the government. In order to achieve the objectives of the national social media strategy, social media policies should be developed and adopted by various government bodies.

These polices then will be divided in to two categories internal and external social media policies. Internal social media policies will define how the members of each government body should tackle social media and support their organisation to achieve its objectives. External social media policies include the methods of interaction with the public at large. For example, this policy must include the response rates for any queries over social networks, the protocol for providing added value to the public by interacting with the government body over social media, feedback collecting mechanism over social networks and how to action them.

How can social media create a more interactive atmosphere between the government and its people? Can it be used to achieve public goals?
Social networks are popular among the public because of its interactive nature: from multimedia to other forms of highly interactive content between social networks users. Meanwhile, in general governments are not very interactive. Their method of communication is one way: top to bottom. And in this new age of technology where the mobile penetration in all GCC countries is more than 100 percent and everyone consumes media and does his interaction over the smart phone and social networks, it’s strategically important for the government to bridge this gap and have a comprehensive integrated communication strategy which puts social media to its core, in order to better communicate its message to the public, maximise its reach and convey its message to the public.

This new way of communication ensures the public goals are being pursued and can be monitored greatly due to the transparency and openness features provided by the social networks. And with instant feedback from the public on government plans and procedures, the government can focus more on their core business and provide value added services to the public.

How is Tawasul Al Khaleej improving engagement of governments with citizens in the GCC?
The new age citizen of the GCC demands his government to be more efficient and deliver excellent, top level, value-added services. This new age citizen has the latest gadgets and technology at his disposal and spends a huge amount of his time on social networks. We help the new age governments to create a strategic online and social media presence. We also help develop quality social network content, that will ensure the government’s message is getting across to the public. We help governments to be able to listen to their citizens’ needs and feedback. We are working towards bridging the communication gap created by technology and social networks, in which the citizens are more advanced than the governments.

What is your take on how social media has influenced politics and political awareness, especially in the Middle East and North Africa region?
Social media has raised the political awareness in the Middle East and North Africa region. The old methods of censoring traditional media are not applicable to social networks where every citizen has become a journalist for his own community. Governments need to accept this fact and get a better approach to this game. A government’s ability to sustain the satisfaction of their citizens starts with their ability to first better communicate with them and convey their messages to networks and platforms used by the citizen. In addition, they need to be able to engage and interact with their public. In the last two years we’ve seen that the governments who are not willing to embrace social media and use it as a tool for further development of their societies are no longer in power today.

Do you think social media has enough potential to be an official communication channel in the future?
I think that social media will be the number one official communication channel preferred by both governments and citizens in the future. The old methods of communications are fading away, for many different reasons.

The newspapers have a huge decline in circulation and it is expected that by 2050 the newspapers will be out of business. The public have already substituted TV with YouTube and their major source of information has become social networks. More than 90 percent are learning about breaking news through social media. I think it is the natural part of the evolution of communication that all of us will adopt either by embracing it ourselves or by force due to the circumstances we live in.