You may have been directed here for information about the floods in Jeddah of 2011. I have stopped actively researching how to help the flood victims, but you can find all the information I did find here.

Apr 25, 2012

Geeklings and Other Innovations

I had the pleasure of bringing an idea of mine to life on April 19. Why I keep insisting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, stumps me. After Faseelah, the Islamic environmental organization I founded, I went on to volunteer in many projects that took more work than anticipated. The latest of these was GeekFest Jeddah. GeekFest Jeddah β, to be precise.

The Twilight Zone (aka Jeddah)

Before delving into the geekdom of the past two months, I need to clarify one thing. This city is a parallel universe begging for a GeekFest unlike those in Dubai, Cairo, and Beirut. Intriguing aspects of life in the city include mall culture, single men not being allowed in said malls and the lewed ad campaigns of these malls being ignored by the ignorant.

GeekFest Jeddah's beta-tester (β)

A "beta tester" is a version of software/website rolled out to an invited part of the public with the intention of gaining feedback and founded suggestions. GeekFest Jeddah β was such an event to test the waters about the following:

Gender Segregation

There were two venues, one for ladies and the other for gents with a live feed connecting guest speakers to audiences (kind of).

Unconventional meetups

There were neither delegate badges nor photo-ops. Complete floor/bean bag seating was enjoyed and unique activities were used to break the ice. This isn't the norm, to say the least.

Collecting geeks (and geeklings) of Jeddah

There were geeky photos and geeky interests (below graph) collected beforehand to help those at the event define "geek".

Around the world, geeks have been analyzed using Venn diagrams, evolution infographs, and categorization.
"Geeklings" is a term created during a podcast episode referring to volunteers of GeekFest. Anywhere else, there would be no volunteers, but there is no adequate space like business hubs or culture centers here, so we needed the help.

Online professionals

Geekfest is an offline event for professionals with an online presence. In Jeddah, professionals are anywhere but online for the most part. With Saudization, lack of competition, and everyone playing hard-to-get, the need to sell yourself as a brand to employers is restricted to Jeddah's fashion scene.
Technically, only fashion bloggers fit in the culture on the female side of GeekFest, but they don't know enough about tech and geekdom to enjoy the event.

This brings me to female geeks

Ladies with the combination of IT interest, Internet savvy, proactivity, and professional networking are few and far between.
  • Is it because the majority here get wed and pregnant sooner than job hunting?
  • Is it that companies are so desperate for female employees that women don't need to network professionally?
  • Is it that female geeks up and leave the country ASAP because they can?
Do let me know, it'll make my life easier.

GeekFest Jeddah Gamma (γ)

Taking feedback from the geeks about the next tester before GeekFest Jeddah 1.0, we have these results:

We've had such positive results in people wanting to volunteer to improve GeekFest Jeddah, that we're making the whole process transparent on Trello (link to come).

γ will be in September/October and will define a whole new way of J-town geekdom. A way that, in a long twisted complex manner, resembles the universe outside Jeddah.

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