“The most powerful weapon in the Middle East is not sarin gas or nuclear weapons, it’s your smartphone,” asserted Britain’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Thomas Fletcher, at the start of last night’s award ceremony for the first Social Media Awards Beirut.
The star-studded event, organized by The Online Collaborative, brought the competition to a close yesterday at the glamorous Phoenicia Hotel, where individuals, brands, and blogs across Lebanon were honored for their engagement on social media.
Finalists were nominated by the public and announced at a press conference on March 27th in 32 categories including Best Fashion Blog, Most Engaging Politician/Diplomat on Twitter, Best Food Blog, and Best NGO/Community on Social Media. Public voting over the past month accounted for 50% of the scores, while judging by social media personalities and experts in Lebanon comprised the other 50%, and finalized the decisions announced last night.
Although competition judge and Lebanese Telecoms Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui couldn’t attend the ceremony, he joined via recorded message from Silicon Valley telling the packed crowd, “You can change the world and you can change Lebanon too.”
Ambassador Fletcher also took the stage, joking, “This is the first election in Lebanon for some time where the winner wasn’t known in advance,” garnering more than a little uncomfortable laughter from the crowd.
Some of the winners included Lebanon’s former Interior Minister Ziad Baroud as Most Engaging Politician/Diplomat on Twitter, Tickle My Brain for Best Startup on Social Media, singer Haifa Wehbe as Most Engaging Celebrity on Twitter, and amusing Facebook cartoon series Lebanese Memes for Best Facebook Campaign/Page. And Wamda was even honored as Best Business Blog in Lebanon.
Ultimately, the competition is a chance to recognize the important contributions of Lebanon's startups to building a vibrant online community and spurring economic development in a country with a notoriously poor tech infrastructure. It also shows the importance of social media to a very politically aware and engaged Lebanese population. Ex-Minister Baroud summed it up simply when accepting his award, “If you’re not virtual, you’re not real, even in politics.”
Check out the full list of winners below:
- Blog of the Year: BlogBaladi
- Best News Blog: Beirut Spring
- Best Business Blog: Wamda
- Best Lifestyle Blog: Mich Café
- Best Food Blog: No Garlic No Onions
- Best Fashion Blog: PlushBeirut
- Best Technology Blog: Microsoftoholic
- Best Personal Blog: Gino’s Blog
- Best Media Personality on Social Media: Zaven
- Best Non-Arabic Vocal Artist on Social Media: Anthony Touma
- Best Band on Social Media: Mashrou3 Leila
- Most Creative Instagram Account: LiveLoveBeirut
- Best Facebook Campaign/Page: Lebanese Memes
- Best Integrated Campaign: Cheyef 7alak
- Most Engaging Youtube Channel: Cheyef 7alak
- Most Engaging Youtube Video: Beirut Duty Free Flash Mob
- Most Engaging Person on Twitter: Anis Tabet
- Most Engaging Celebrity on Twitter: Haifa Wehbe
- Most Engaging Media Personality on Twitter: Neshan
- Most Engaging Politician/Diplomat on Twitter: Ziad Baroud
- Best Business on Twitter: Roadster Diner
- Best NGO/Organization on Twitter: Donner Sang Compter
- Best Pub/Bar on Social Media: Feb30
- Best Restaurant on Social Media: Roadster Diner
- Best Hotel on Social Media: Phoenicia
- Best Fashion Brand on Social Media: Vero Moda ME
- Best Food & Beverage Brand on Social Media: Almaza
- Best Commercial District on Social Media: ABC
- Best NGO/Community on Social Media: Lebanese Memes
- Best Start-up on Social Media: Tickle My Brain
- Best Design for a Social Media Campaign: Almaza
- Best Facebook Application: Novo
- Social Campaigning Magnet Award: Lana El Sahley