By Khalil Al Khonji
Look around you and see how several prominent global leaders are using social media – such as twitter and other platforms — to their advantage. There are many who are able to remain constantly in the public eye by using only social media platforms.
The new buzz
Social media is the new buzz these days and thanks to its speed and efficiency, it is able to promote, progress and keep the thought process alive and also make it vibrant!
Despite busy schedules, long distances and even diverse thoughts all make a level field using social media groups such as WhatsApp and Facebook etc.
Today, the abundance and the ease of use of social media platforms comes in handy as a tool for the transformation process.
When used appropriately, the platforms can be utilised to our advantage in promoting productive ideas in society that allow social interaction at close quarters at a faster pace and to enable us to create a buzz. Time and location are no longer considered as a challenge for communication in this era.
When I was heading the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) from 2007 to 2014, I decided to complement the Majlis Al Khonji by enforcing more active specialised committees.
I used to chair some of them, especially the economic, food security committees and also the Najah programme, which enabled many Omani students to get enrolled into universities and colleges. Today, almost all of those committee activities are replaced by different WhatsApp groups. The WhatsApp groups comprise top decision makers, ministers, Ceos, and business leaders who are seen participating not just actively but also more effectively than earlier because they no longer have to confront the barriers of time, location and bureaucracy to have a meaningful discussion. With their busy schedules, they can be in any part of the world and still be able to participate in a discussion in a timely manner.
WhatsApp group members can be up to approximately 256, which are divided into categories of active members of the youth who want to stay up to date and learn from the experienced individuals; the government representatives, officials and economists articipating in the Economic WhatsApp group.
The Specialised Groups are subdivided again under the name of Sabla. There are different sablas for tourism, education and training, sports, human resources, for IT and communication with members of e-governance; CSR committee comprising all CSR officials; stock markets and one for the AGCC. I was the chairman of the Federation of the AGCC and hence I formed the AGCC group too, bringing all of the AGCC chairmen of the chambers and businessmen together. All of these groups function with numerous administrators.
The groups are free to express their thoughts but also maintain respect and regard to the opinions of each and every member. There is also a group for AGCC business women including majority of Omani women startups so they can learn how to grow their businesses and follow the leaders. I also created a business women committees in each branch of the Oman Chamber of Commerce so now most of those business women are members with the WhatsApp groups.
Positive changes using social media
People can also initiate positive campaigns and form advocacy groups with the help of the social media. I can cite examples where the positive power of the social media came into play. There was this move to replant an iconic 250-years old Ghaf tree from Qurum. It came to our notice that a contractor was attempting to uproot a fully grown Ghaf tree and replant it somewhere.
Please do bear in mind that scientifically no Ghaf tree can live after it is uprooted. The authority concerned stepped in and immediate action was taken to preserve the tree. That is one of the many positive outcomes of using the social media. Another good example is that of a several hundred years old heritage mosque in Muttrah.
Plans were afoot to demolish it and build a new one in its place it with a modern building. But, we were able to put a stop to it and preserve this grand heritage mosque in the old souq of Muttrah, thanks to the social media.