You think you know, but you have no idea. The insider story of Emiratweet is right here…
Emiratweet is the first Emirati Online Social Community for the Emiratis by the Emiratis. Emiratweet founders have come together to give something back to their country and people in terms of organizing informative events, bridging the gap, sustaining the Emirati presence through social media, supporting Emiratis. In this issue, we interviewed Emiratweet founders: Heba AlSamt, Hanan Huwair, and Ayesha AlJanahi
- Interviewed by Iman Ben Chaibah
- How was Emiratweet born?
Heba: Emiratweet was conceived on TEDxDubai 2009. Bashar Al Atiyat talked about the importance of changing a distorted image; why should it be changed, and how. So we started thinking of how to step up and change the distorted image associated with Emiratis at that time. And then, we started meeting and discussing the idea further.
During that phase, we were approached to give a talk in a conference called “Cool Twitter”, that would be held on 18th of November, 2009. We decided to take the opportunity to present our idea of how Emiratis use social media and twitter. We started brainstorming for a brand name, and finally, our friend Aida Al Busaidy suggested “Emiratweet”. After presenting the concept in the conference, we announced the launch and started since then.
Hanan: We started small. We started with a twitter account that gives Emiratis a voice and a place where they speak their minds. We had an idea; we shared it with people, asked for their feedback and opinions, and then we took the responsibility to act upon them.
- Emiratweet has three co-founders. What is the role of each?
Ayesha: My role as a co-founder is to handle the “EmiraTeyat” initiative. It started after our “EmiraTeyat” event back in March 2010, in which we celebrated Emirati women in light of Women’s day. We did not want to stop there, so we decided to carry on highlighting the Emirati women’s talents and businesses.
Heba: Besides that, there are Emirati women who have paved the way for us and played a very big role in our society. So we try to focus on them. We also look for achievements by Emirati women and try to bring them to light and write about them under “EmiraTeyat”.
Hanan: We sat one day and prepared an organizational structure. We identified the board members so that the final decision goes through multiple reviews before finalizing it. Emiratweet has different aspects that are juggled between us. Essentially, Heba is in charge of the writing and maintaining the social media presence. I manage a portion of organizing the events and strategizing for future ones. Ayesha handles the EmiraTeyat initiative. Symbolically, Heba is the soul of Emiratweet and I am the mind of it.
- How did you grow since you started?
Hanan: We started with a certain direction in mind, but as we grew we got plenty of feedback. We try not to let any idea, comment, or feedback; positive or negative, pass away unnoticed. We take it all very seriously. We have regular meetings through which we examine all the input and plan how to build on them. At some point, we revisited our mission statement to reflect our message appropriately.
Heba: When we started, the website mainly looked like a blog and as we grew we tried to make it look more like a portal than a blog or a website. It now has different sections and divisions.
- What got you into organizing events?
Hanan: When we started growing we found that our followers have a lot in common, plenty to share, and a lot to talk about. We are interacting on the social media level, but we did not want to lose the human element. Hence, we thought it is time to bring people together under one roof.
Heba: What pushed us to start with events was the financial crisis. Dubai was then being bashed a lot, and we Emiratis did not have the sufficient knowledge about the topic to respond. So we organized our first event “Think the Unthinkable”. We brought several people who are experts on the matter to discuss the financial crisis. We aimed to raise awareness on the topic and educate people on it.
Hanan: From the feedback we got, we decided to do it every month. We would pick a topic, bring experts in the matter, bring people together, and discuss it properly.
- Why and how do you sustain your presence on Social Media channels?
Hanan: Some people mistakenly think we are trying to represent the UAE. That is not the case. What we are trying to do is to sustain an Emirati presence in social media communities, by being present and creating a community that is approachable yet very authentic, trusted and reliable.
Heba: We do that by having Emiratweet on several social media platforms. We try to expand into more whenever we hear about a new platform from our team or followers.
Hanan: We are trying to conquer new social media platforms, create a presence there, and be the pioneers. We do not want to be the only people. Instead, we want to pave the way for people, show them ways of using it, and encourage them to use it.
- How do you monitor and measure your success?
Heba: We measure it through many aspects: by the contributions we get, our website traffic statistics, our events’ attendees count, post event feedback, feedback emails, and by word of mouth. One of our success metrics is having our fans and followers getting back to us with certain information or rumors to verify them and give them the real story.
Hanan: We consider ourselves successful if even one single person benefitted from us at any point. At the end of the day, we want to contribute to the community and the individuals. So if we could leave any kind of influence or impact then that is a success for us.
- How do you feel about Emiratweet’s first year anniversary coming around the corner?
Ayesha: I still remember the first discussion we had about Emiratweet and its concept and all. Now, proudly, everyone is talking about it. We have so many ideas and developments that are yet to come.
Heba: I am excited and proud. This is a very big step from where we were a year ago. Emiratweet would not have made it through its first year if it were not for our supporters, followers, and cofounders. It became a challenge now because we grew this much in a short period of time and we have many people who have high expectations of us.
Hanan: Emiratweet’s anniversary marks the day we tell people that it is not a one day or one time thing. We did it for a year and we are still growing. We have started strategizing and looking into the whole upcoming year. There are many exciting stuff coming up; so follow us and read our website to stay updated with our news.
- What did you prepare for the anniversary?
Hanan: We are organizing an exclusive gala dinner; we will honor a number of our past speakers. We will highlight our one-year journey and then thank everyone. It is our way of celebrating this with all those who contributed to what we are now. This is our way of telling them: thank you very much and we really appreciate your continuous support and believe in Emiratweet.
- How did you grow on the personal level since your started?
Hanan: We started to act on whatever comes to our mind, seek for the feedback and learn from it. We do not wait or keep ideas in the back of our heads anymore. We have already challenged ourselves into achieving this theoretical concept and it worked. We have learnt a lot and we are still learning.
Heba: For an IT person, I have become more social and more open. I started to believe in our ideas and became more confident. We, the cofounders, have entirely different personalities, but it helped us get the best out of each other.
Ayesha: I learnt that I should not have doubts in my abilities, to trust myself more, and to be determined and have faith in my dreams.
- What do you wish Emiratweet to be remembered as?
Heba: The first Emirati social community that preserved, maintained, and sustained its cultural identity and traditions.
Ayesha: We want to set a good example. We want to be remembered for taking the initiative and making Emiratweet very successful. So that even if we reached to the point that we pass it over, we would have given something that is rich in value.
Hanan: We want to be remembered as the people who started something different, and committed themselves to contributing into the community. We want to be looked at and be inspired to do things and to believe in one’s self. We want to create a modern and reliable community, through which upcoming generations can get in touch with their national and cultural Emirati identity, feel proud of it, and contribute to it.
For more about Emiratweet:
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