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Collaborative Consumption in the Middle East & North Africa: Building on Cultural Traditions of Sharing

by Ahmad Sufiyan Bayram on 18th June 2013

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For those of you who are not familiar with the sharing and collaborative consumption movements in the Arab World, these are not new ideas in the region, nor within Arabic culture.

Ouishare Arab - Damascus Drink Flyer

Throughout history, people here have shared food, products and homes among many other things. They used to crowdfund landsharing in order to allocate crops and shared the financial returns with each other. Moreover, these folks used to have houses, where visitors could sleep over for a few days as a traditional model of couchsurfing.

Recently, as a repercussion of all the war-torn years that this region has witnessed, people have retreated from ‘the commons’ and trust between strangers, which has resulted in sharing being confined to inner circles of friends and acquaintances.

But with the internet revolution and network technologies that have brought together and then expanded the community’s input among people who have similar needs or interests, some new collaborative and open business models have emerged.

The Arab world is still in its infancy stages moving outward to adopt a productive kind of collaborative economy, but I really believe that Arab countries are not inferior to other countries and that all the benefits and changes that have occurred globally can work here too.

Recognising this, I set myself the challenge to play an instrumental role in harnessing this movement in Arab countries.

I started by spreading the concepts and practices, and collecting stories about collaborative economy through a blog in both Arabic and English. Because of the scarcity of information needed for people to realize the enormous benefits of the collaborative economy, I have also created a channel on YouTube to simplify these ideas and cover the offline meetings and talks that I do in this regard.

I joined the global community, OuiShare, to integrate the Arab countries into this global movement, and moderated the first Drinks for OuiShare in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), at Damascus Drink #1 .

I am currently planning to set up other meetings in the region this summer in order to meet people in person and have the opportunity to create a vanguard of teams in major Arab cities to establish the vision and spread community values.

Also, recently I joined Collaborative Consumption.Com to highlight Arab entrepreneurs and to contribute to building a global collaborative consumption society.

This summer I plan to crowdfund my upcoming research, ‘The Rise of Collaborative Consumption in Arab Countries’ online and offline  in both English and Arabic, which is going to be my first study in this field.

The aim is to estimate the economy of sharing in the region, and to define ways to embed it in ‘developing’ countries.

This research will include surveys, directory lists, interviews with students, and collaborative consumption entrepreneurs from around the Arab World.

In addition to that, there will be experiments on how to overcome the psychological barriers that often exist around new behaviors, and I am going to record a translated  Youtube series about How to build a collaborative economy to help startups better comprehend the concept of this trend.

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avatar Ahmad Sufian Bayram is spearheading the emergence of the collaborative economy in the Arab world, representing the Ouishare community and Collaborative Consumption.com in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. Based in Damascus, Syria, he has a blog and YouTube channel in both Arabic and English, and writes in many international magazines to promote the movement in his area.

Ahmad has written 1 posts on Post Growth Institute.

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