Wednesday 24 August 2011

This year's Arab Spring in London (2) - Internet entrepreneur

In the wake of the epochal changes that are currently affecting North Africa and the Middle East, London was the scene of the launch of a new website advocating freedom of expression in the Arab world.  is an initiative of Thunayan Khalid al-Ghanim. Although he had already built up a reputation as one of the most prolific and expansive buyers of  online domain names, the Kuwaiti-born internet entrepreneur was a bit of enigma. In late June, the once secretive internet pioneer, also known under the alias elequa, stepped out of anonimity. A member of a prominent Kuwaiti business family, which is also active in politics, often in opposition to the ruling family, Thunayan al-Ghanim was educated in Europe and the United States. Before turning to exploring and exploiting the opportunities offered by the internet revolution, he pursued an artistic career as a painter and sculptor.

Art work by Thunayan al-Ghanim

Future Media Architects (FMA)
Through a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands named Future Media Architects (FMA) he has managed to take control of literally tens of thousands of domain names. Although he professes no interest in politics, the initiative does make a political statement, as its website's subtitle reads 'Freedom of speech is a human right'. launch
 Taking place in 40/30, the top floor  bar & restaurant in the Swiss Re Building, better known as 'The Gherkin', the launch of was given an appropriate allure. The event was organized by Orient Consulting Services and hosted by its CEO Lina Tayara.

Lina Tayara with founder Thunayan Khalid al-Ghanim
 The evening also featured Chris Cobb Smith, a  former military officer turned press security consultant, as keynote speaker. Not long ago he made headlines during the recent troubles in Libya, when he -- together with BBC Arabic Service journalist Feras Killani and cameraman Goktay Koraltay -- were captured by Gaddafi's forces and subjected to torture and coercion. Subsequently, the trio was awarded the 2011 MBI Award for Press Freedom.

Keynote speaker Chris Cobb-Smith
In the fringes of the launch, which attracted representatives of the media, the world of publishing and communications, as well as publicists and academics working on the Middle East and the wider Muslim world, there was a screening of a brief documentary film, entitled 'A Story Seldom told' and produced by the Zenith Foundation.

The launch was also covered on the  technocrati website.
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