New website plans to showcase homegrown talent of Gulf youth

A website launching next Monday hopes to serve as a platform to inspire and promote Gulf talents.

DUBAI // A new social networking site aimed at Gulf youth will be launched next Monday.

The website, www.thinkup.ae, hopes to provide a platform to inspire and promote the talent of young people living in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, who are sometimes referred to as "Khaleeji".

The site will encourage individuals from almost any field to submit their work for consideration.

A panel of 35 volunteers across the GCC will review all content - written, photographed or filmed - before it is uploaded.

"We want to have a state of professionalism tied to the initiative - not just anything can be uploaded," said Saleh Al Braik, the 23-year-old Emirati who founded the project.

Nayla Al Khaja, the first female Emirati film producer, says the initiative is definitely worthwhile. "Think Up is a brilliant initiative and one that is genuine. It's run by a Khaleeji for Khaleeji talents. It can't get any more real than this," she said.

Mr Al Braik said he had spent almost Dh40,000 out of his own pocket to develop the brand, which will operate on a non-profit basis.

Mr Al Braik is an avid social media user with almost 20,000 Twitter followers. But he says too many young people using Facebook and Twitter to showcase their businesses were falling between the cracks. "They deserve so much recognition, more than just 140 characters," he said.

"A platform was needed so that all these talented individuals could come and be inspired and in turn also be seen as an inspiration," he said. "Why look to the East and to the West when you have so many inspirational figures right here?"

Iman Ben Chaibah, the founder and editor-in-chief of the first independent Emirati e-zine, www.sailemagazine.com, will be working closely with Mr Al Braik.

"We will be collaborating with him and sending material from our side by syndicating interviews," she said. "The younger generation in the community will get the chance to look up to people with similar values."

Mr Al Braik said he wanted the site to be free of censorship. "Young girls and guys express themselves freely nowadays," he said.

"I would like us to be that platform where censorship is not found. Controversial artwork is something we look for."

He added, however, that to create a safe online environment, two subject would be avoided: religion and politics.

The older generation, Mr Al Braik said, have been sceptical: "They would say to me 'You have to be smart; this is a lot of money you're putting into it by yourself'. But I don't see it as spending money; I see it as an investment. Your dreams do not come with a price tag."

aalhaddad@thenational.ae

Published: August 1, 2011 04:00 AM

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