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Majal Logo.svg
Founded 2006
Founder Esra'a Al Shafei
Type Not-for-Profit
Focus freedom of information, access to information, free open-source Internet projects.
Area served

Majal is a regional not-for-profit organization focused on amplifying voices of dissent throughout the Middle East and North Africa via digital media. Founded in Bahrain, the organization "creates platforms and web applications that promote freedom of expression and social justice."[1]

The network's activity is driven by the passion for civil engagement, freedom of speech, tolerance, supporting religious and ethnic minorities, raising awareness, and employing innovative solutions to these pervasive and persistent problems due to censored media, thus breaking the boundaries between the MENA nations and giving room for critical free thinking and exchange of information between people via the internet, connecting them to one another.

Majal, which relies on open source platforms, like WordPress and Ruby on Rails, was launched in 2006 by Esra'a Al Shafei as a simple group-blogging idea. However, it has changed course to focus on the development of unique applications and tools.[2]

The platforms have a growing amount of media coverage worldwide.[3]

Objectives and Means

Majal's content, in addition to its projects and applications, is free open source content to ensure right to access information for everyone.

Majal uses a broad spectrum of social media tools, ranging from written blogs, podcasts, vlogs, comics, video animation and pictures to live broadcasting through radio.

Projects and Applications

Majal runs various active projects that include CrowdVoice, Mideast Tunes, Ahwaa, Migrant Rights, Alliance for Kurdish Rights, The Muslim Network for Bahá'í Rights, amongst a few others.

CrowdVoice is an open source tool which harnesses the power of crowdsourcing to raise awareness and deepen insight into social movements worldwide.[4]

Mideast Tunes is a platform profiling and connecting underground musicians using music as a tool for social change.[5]

Ahwaa is a discussion tool for Arab LGBT youth which leverages game mechanics to facilitate high-quality interactions.

In addition, Majal has launched various Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Facebook applications. Their iPad-exclusive application is called "Making of a Century,"[6] which maps social movements in the past 100 years through an interactive interface.

Aside from building and designing their own websites and tools, MEY has provided in the past free hosting, development, and design to MENA-based activists who share the network's vision and values and who have been up and running for at least three consecutive months. Majal is committed to helping non-profits and individual activists because they understand the financial limits that these people and groups face.


Majal is funded through private donations and grants from non-governmental organizations, as well as any potential revenues earned through freelance development. Its primary funders are the Shuttleworth Foundation and the Omidyar Network.[7]

In 2008, Majal won the Berkman Award from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University in the Human Rights/Global Advocacy category. This $10,000 award was Majal’s first source of funding. This award is presented to “people or institutions that have made a significant contribution to the Internet and its impact on society over the past decade.”[8] In 2009, the March 18 Movement, a project of Majal, received the Think Social Award, which demonstrates how social media can be used to solve the world’s problems.[9] Esra'a Al-Shafei was named a 2009 Echoing Green Fellow for Civil and Human Rights, a seed funding award for young entrepreneurs engaged in social change.[10] Financially, the fellowship consists of a $60,000 stipend paid over two years.[11] Most recently, MEY has received a grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture for its Mideast Tunes website.[12]


  • Winner of Human Rights Tulip 2014
  • Ashoka Changemakers Citizen Media competition in 2011 for their CrowdVoice project.
  • Monaco Media Prize 2011 for Majal founder and director Esra'a Al Shafei in 2011.
  • The BOBS Special Topic Human Rights award in 2011 for the Majal website Migrant Rights.[13]
  • ThinkSocial Award in 2009, as powerful model for how social media can be used to address global problems.[14]
  • Echoing Green 2009 Fellowship.[15]
  • TEDGlobal 2009 Fellowship.[16]
  • Berkman Award for Internet Innovation from Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School in 2008 for the outstanding contributions to the internet and its impact on society.[17]
  • The Global Journal selected Majal as one of Top 100 NGOs in 2013.[18]
  • 2013-2014 Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship.[19]


Majal team is led primarily by women. The organization was founded by Esra'a Al Shafei, a blogger from Bahrain in 2006. Ahmed Zidan of Egypt has served for over three years as the Editor-in-Chief of Majal Arabic, and is the co-founder of Ahwaa, and is also a podcaster.[20] Other team members include Mona Kareem, Rima Kalush, Abir Ghattas, Namita Malhotra, and Vani Saraswathi.

2011 Middle East and North Africa Protests

Blogs and video played a role in the documentation of protests throughout the Middle East and North Africa during 2010-2011, also known as the Arab Spring. During this period, MEY's project, CrowdVoice (launched in 2010) helped curate and archive the large amounts of videos, images, and eye-witness reports being aggregated and crowdsourced from across the region. As a result, it had been censored temporarily in Yemen and is still censored in Bahrain.[21]

Media Coverage

Majal has received various coverage from news agencies, TV satellite channels, radio stations, newspapers, magazines. For instance, Sky News, CNN, New York Times, BBC, The Guardian, NPR, Time, MTV political blog "Act", VH1, Daily Telegraph, Die Zeit, Frankfurter Rundschau FR-online, Toronto Star, TechCrunch, Rolling Stone Middle East, Abu Dhabi TV, Gulf News, Al-Hasnaa' magazine, ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, The Next Web, Radio Sawt Beirut International, Radio Farda among many others.[22]


  1. ^ Mideast Youth About Page.
  2. ^ Mideast Youth Portfolio of Projects.
  3. ^ The Official Mideast Youth Press Room
  4. ^ Wired Magazine.
  5. ^ Mideast Tunes about page.
  6. ^ Making of a Century
  7. ^ Omidyar Network profile.
  8. ^ Berkman Awards
  9. ^ Think Social awards
  10. ^ Echoing Green fellow - Esra'a al Shafei
  11. ^ The Echoing Green Fellowship
  12. ^ Arab Fund for Arts and Culture Profile.
  13. ^ The BOBs: 'A Tunisian Girl' wins Deutsche Welle Blog Awards
  14. ^ OR318 wins ThinkSocial Award in 2009 Archived 2010-04-13 at the Wayback Machine..
  15. ^ Echoing Green 2009 Fellowship for Esra'a Al Shafei.
  16. ^ TED 2009 Fellowship for Esra'a Al Shafei.
  17. ^ Berkman Award for Internet Innovation for Mideast Youth in 2008.
  18. ^ Global Journal profile of Mideast Youth.
  19. ^ Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship profile.
  20. ^ Mideast Youth - Ahmed Zidan
  21. ^ SciDev Interview.
  22. ^ Mideast Youth Press Room.

External links

  • Majal website.
  • CrowdVoice.
  • Majal.
  • Ahwaa.
  • Majal About Page.
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