I have just returned from a four day trip in Kuwait after having helped set up the digital channels for The Fahad Center Inaugural Forum and must say I had a very interesting time.

The Forum titled “Renewing Dialogue for Peace and Advancing Freedom and Human Rights in Today’s World” was a two day event hosted by Kuwaiti Sheikh Fahad Al Salem Al Ali Al Sabah, and featured a number of prominent world leaders from all over the globe. The discussions focused on the importance of technology and democracy in the region, and undoubtedly highlighted some of the turbulent political events that have recently unfolded in the Middle East.

Social media was at the epicenter of most of the discussions, with a clear acknowledgment from all the participants that this “new media” had given open and uncontrolled journalistic powers to the average citizen. Kim Campbell, Former Canadian Prime Minister even stated; “When done well, Citizen Journalism can be very valuable for feedback to government.”

Guests of the event included; former Netherlands PM and President of Club De Madrid, Wim Kok; social and human rights advocate and former actress and fashion icon, Bianca Jagger; former Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada.

Witnessing such a dynamic discussion about the role of the digital world and new media in bringing a voice to the average person, and subsequently leading to democracy and freedom of speech, was an extremely fulfilling experience. The fact that current and former world leaders acknowledge the power of this fairly new form of “journalism” is an ode to itself on how essential Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites have become.

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