AUTHOR: DAN FASTENBERG of TIME
Sample tweet: “Asharq Al Awsat: King Abdallah to Saudis: Don’t call me ‘The King of Hearts’ or ‘The King of Humanity’ http://bit.ly/eGJYXw Arabic”
Commentators are still debating the extent to which media contributed to the 2011 Arab uprisings, but one thing’s for sure: to the extent that the revolution was tweeted, much of it came through the feed of Sultan al-Qassemi. A fellow at the Dubai School of Government and a columnist with the United Arab Emirates–based National, the Paris-educated al-Qassemi tweeted live translations of communiqués from Egypt’s Tahrir Square and Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh’s pulpit. He has also passed along links that exposed the excesses of autocracy. One such report covered the banning of Saudi women from contributing to a newspaper (a subject the region’s civilians had previously shied away from addressing). By his own count, at one point during the Arab Spring he was tweeting a new update every 45 seconds. During the peak of the Egyptian uprising, he even managed to keep his followers updated on the protests while attending a wedding.
This article was originally published in Time on March 28, 2011.