Yesterday, over a great Iftar prepared by non other than revered chef in Dubai moryarti, I discussed with a friend of his the power of social media and how it’s slowly phasing out conventional media as a mechanism of delivering news to people locally or around the world.
The Iftar, by the way, was absolutely fantastic. If you’re desperately hungry, moryarti won’t disappoint (except that he didn’t prepare chocolate shots and is currently holding my camera hostage).
Anyhow, for those not in the know, today marks the historic opening of the troubled Dubai Metro. Though metros are nothing new in other places of the world, it has been the talk of residents here for 4 years – not in a good way most of the time. Laying out the infrastructure led to often catastrophic temporary (as in 1-2 year) diversions and new road layouts. Trips into the heart of the city (Deira and Bur Dubai) have become a daily nightmare – and if it were not for God’s gift of patience to me I would have left the country a long time ago. 24/7 construction next to residential and commercial areas didn’t help either, nor did the protests and numerous Dubai Bashing articles highlighting the cheap labor, the ridiculous traffic congestion, and of course the ever increasing doubts that Dubai Metro won’t function as planned nor on time.
Though only partially functional (10 of 50-something stations are operational), the 09/09/09 grand ceremony is still to take place a few hours from now. So this morning I woke up, did my business in the loo, didn’t prepare breakfast, opened my Management book to read and signed into twitter to check something. Then I was sucked into what I would call the New Opium of the Masses – the trending topic that is Dubai Metro.
Within a couple of hours, as Dubai residents woke up, smelled the coffee they wouldn’t have, got on with their business at work and read the local papers, everyone started tweeting their excitement (and of course a “bit” of spamming) over the grand opening of the metro. I joined in, my excitement driven by the bandwagon effect, and within a couple of hours lo and behold – the metro went from a blip outside the radar to the number one trending topic on twitter, leaving Apple’s and the Beatles’ also historic announcements “less important” in twitter terms.
And of course I took the screenshot for this historical feat achieved by none other than Dubai residents! So yes, a small group of people can actually outdo continents (though, to be fair, they’re probably sleeping now). Now that we KNOW we can do it, maybe we can use this power to bring forward other important social/political/humanitarian topics to light.
Don’t you think?