GLAM/Newsletter/November 2011/Contents/Qatar report
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GLAM comes to the Arabian gulf
As described in the November 28 edition of The Signpost and the ICTQatar blogpost, Liam Wyatt (Wittylama) visited Doha at the invitation of ictQATAR and Creative Common Qatar to introduce GLAM-Wiki concepts to the local cultural sector. Highlights include:
- Meeting with the Taghreedat team, a local group who are trying to localise twitter for Arabic (can you believe it's not already!). Liam introduced them to Translatewiki and it is very likely they might form a nexus of activity on Arabic mediawiki localisation. At the same meeting there was also interest (from an institute associated with ICTQatat for software disability services) in making sure MediaWiki works well for the visually impaired in Arabic.
- Presentation to the the Qatar Museums Authority community (slides). The QMA, and specifically the Museum of Islamic Art, are very interested in getting their content out and signing up to the GLAM movement. The country is building several world-class museums all at once they want to get their digital policies right from the start, so they are interested in having Wikimedia integrated to their systems/practices. One of the main problem is that there is not a very vibrant editing community in Qatar and there's even less of a general museum-going culture - bridging these gaps will be the primary challenge for GLAM-wiki collaboration in the Arabian Gulf region generally. In the near future Wikimedia may receive a few "low hanging fruit" images from different institutions so we can gather some usage statistics. In the longer term there was much interest in the idea of coordinating a global-edit-a-thon simultaneously across multiple museums around the world focusing on improving content related to Islamic art and Arab culture.
- Meeting with Al Jazeera English new media team. They informed us how Wikimedians are the only people that really care about the older content on their Creative Commons portal. It made a big splash a couple of years ago but it has not been able to make it realise its full potential since. Al Jazeera are always very heartened to see us using their content. As a result of the meetings, they have changed the license to their flickr stream to the free-culture compliant CC-By-SA so we now have access to rare historically significant content from across the Arab Spring, Hajj, Indian elections etc. (these are steadily being importing it to Commons at Category:Files from Al Jazeera).
- A few "children's museums" and libraries are being set up in the region and (especially the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Saudi Arabia) are already looking at integrating Wikimedia to their programming. They are keen on the idea commissioning content for WikiJunour in Arabic in order to be able to to put those books on their shelves/in school libraries across the country. By good fortune Lori Phillips (HstryQT) is Wikipedian in Residence at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis which is the leader of this field and the Saudi museum is already sending its staff for training there. This provides an excellent basis for future GLAM collaborations for childhood education the Arabian Gulf region.
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