Participants at the first ever WikiArabia Conference in the region began on Friday at the Mohammed bin Rashid Library.

Dubai: The first ever WikiArabia Conference in the UAE and the region began on Friday at the Mohammed bin Rashid Library.

One of the annual highlights on the Wikimedia’s calendar, the conference will run till October 30.

It hosts an exceptional line up of sessions and workshops that feature some of the biggest names in the Arabic and International Wikimedia community including Maryana Iskander, CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, Stéphane Coillet-Matillon, CEO of Kiwix, Lorenzo Losa and Luis Bitencourt-Emilio, Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The opening ceremony welcomed several renowned intellectuals and speakers from the UAE’s cultural and creative sector including Hala Badri, director general of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash CEO of the Arts and Literature sector at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Dr Hanada Taha Thomure, endowed chair professor of Arabic Language at Zayed University and Dr Mohammed Salem Al Mazrouei and Jamal Alshehhi, board members of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library. The ceremony also featured a remarkable poetry performance by the Emirati poet Amal Al-Sahlawi accompanied by Lara Zaid Qasim on the Qanoon instrument.

Wiki Youth Day

The conference opening followed Wiki Youth Day, a dedicated day for university and high school students from around the UAE. The day raised awareness about various Wikimedia projects through a series of introductory workshops to Wiki Data, Wiki Source and Wiki Commons to name a few. The day also offered opportunities for students to develop their creative skills such as photography and writing.

“It was wonderful to welcome so many students to the WikiArabia 2022 conference and to witness their dedication and enthusiasm in contributing to a future where exchanging reliable information and experiences is essential,” said Ahlam Bolooki, director of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and director of the Wikimedians of the UAE User Group.

“And here we are today, celebrating the launch of a new edition of WikiArabia, where we welcome Wikimedia user groups from across the Arab region and around the world to participate in a variety of lively conversations and interesting workshops that reflect the community’s interests.”

Packed programme

The first day of the Conference offered a packed programme featuring prominent speakers from the Wikimedia Foundation.

Iskander, the CEO, met the Arabic community in a discussion with Reda Karboush, member of the Wikimedians of the UAE User Group, Adel Nahaoua, Algerian Wikimedians User Group and Abbad Diraneyya, member of the Wikimedians of the Levant.

Anass Sedrati and Ravan Al Taie, members of the Movement Charter Drafting Committee, in conversation with Reda Karboush and Abbad Diraneyya highlighted the “Movement Charter” and its function as a legal document that establishes the relationships between the movement’s contributors and the guiding principles they adhere to.

What is the global Wikimedia movement and who is involved in it? This question was answered by Bachounda Mohammed and Kamel Sallay, members of the Algerian Wikimedians User Group, as they introduced the vision and mission of Wikimedia to new users.

‘Largest online encyclopedia’

All WikiArabia events are held with the support of Wikimedia Foundation. “Wikipedia is one of the most incredible digital projects in all human history. It is built by people like you, teachers, students, experts; people who just have an interest in a topic and want to be part of the world’s largest online encyclopedia,” said Iskander.

The Conference agenda covers a wide range of topics that concern the Wikimedia field and creative sector in general such as translation, fiscal sponsorship, flexibility, access to the global audience, and quality over quantity.

Mohammed bin Rashid Library is hosting all sessions and workshops that are free for all.

However, attendees must register for each session separately on the WikiArabia 2022 webpage on the website of the Emirates Literature Foundation of Dubai, which is the official sponsor of the conference along with the Wikimedia Foundation.