Launch of the 1st ESCWA Digital Content Award for Sustainable Development

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), in partnership with the World Summit Awards (WSA), has virtually launched the call for applications of the first Digital Arabic Content (DAC) Award for sustainable development.

Participants can submit their applications by 30 September 2021 on this link.

The DAC Award, which will be delivered annually, aims to bridge the digital divide, and enable various segments of society to access the Internet and digital services in Arabic. It will also help promote digital technologies and recognize the efforts exerted in this regard to accelerate development in the region.

In her opening statement, Nibal Idlebi, Chief of the Innovation Section at ESCWA, said that digital Arabic content ranks 11th among global languages, while Arabic ranks 4th in terms of the number of Internet users. “The use of Internet and digital content was heavy during COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the countries with good infrastructure where people were able to continue working in an acceptable manner despite the lockdown,” she added.

Applications are open to two categories: (1) public and non-governmental institutions as well as academia; and (2) young entrepreneurs from Arab countries from formal startups, teams of young people, or individuals younger than 35 who have created digital Arabic content applications or products that have a clear impact on society.

Idlebi also stressed the importance of enriching Arabic digital content to preserve the Arabic language on the Internet and increase its shareability.

The Award winners will have their products and experiences introduced at the regional and international levels. Young entrepreneurs will also benefit from the WSA network, lectures, and workshops related to business, technology and sustainable development.

For his part, Peter A. Bruck, WSA Chairman, pointed out that the Arab region has proven over the last years to be a gem in terms of content richness, digital creativity, and forward thinking. “With the ESCWA DAC Award, we have set another step in the mission to foster connection and exchange in the region, supporting local entrepreneurship for sustainable development. It is an important step of a transformative journey towards digital sovereignty and local impact through local content, highlighting the unique power of the region,” he added.

The rules and conditions for participation were set by a joint ESCWA-WSA steering committee, and submissions will be evaluated by a jury of experts, leading to the selection of winners and announcement of their awards at the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development 2022.

ESCWA Executive Secretary Rola Dashti had announced the initiation of this Award last March at the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development (AFSD), to support institutions and young entrepreneurs from Arab countries in their development of innovative digital Arabic content applications and products.

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