Mideast Youth creates and hosts diverse digital media in order to create social change in the Arab world. Their online forum Ahwaa.org focuses primarily on Arab LGBT youth in the Middle East and North Africa.
In a culture where being LGBT isn’t as accepted as in the Western world, this forum is an important tool for Arab LGBTs youths to connect and interact. Currently, the platform is the largest of its kind, where users discuss important topics and issues they face in their day-to-day life, like sexual identity, culture and religion – fully anonymously by using an avatar and nickname.
At first Ahwaa.org was run entirely on a volunteer basis. With PlanetRomeo Foundation funding, Mideast Youth hired a community manager to moderate the forum, to help ensure the privacy of their steadily growing user base and to keep the platform as safe as possible.
…Ahwaa introduced me to a community I thought didn’t exist. It helped me recognize my internalized homophobia and then helped me overcome it. (…) In our conservative society it’s nice to know that we’re not alone and Ahwaa’s supportive community has helped me more than I ever thought…”
Sahar, user, United Arab Emirates
Mideast Youth hired a professional moderator for ahwaa.org to:
- oversee the platform’s activities;
- ensure the security of the users;
- moderate ongoing discussions and interactions.
The platform has seen a huge growth of its user database, with thousands of daily visitors.