Picture taken by Nath Halawani

As you all know by now, the first edition of the Beirut Social Media Awards took place yesterday and I posted the list of winners earlier this morning. Needless to say, I am very happy that BlogBaladi won the Blog of the Year Award but that doesn’t mean the event was flawless.

In fact, there are few things that I felt I should comment on but not to the extent of trashing the event and labeling it a total failure. On the contrary, I thought it was relatively well organized and fun for a first time. I personally had a great time meeting face to face new and old members of the Lebanese online community, chatting with Minister Alistair Burt and British Ambassador Tom Fletcher, engaging in talks with fellow bloggers and tweeps and of course enjoying a fine glass of Ixsir white wine in the beautiful Phoenicia hotel. Mustapha from the Beirut Spring also came all the way from Ghana to attend the event. Too bad Gino was behind bars in Alcatraz and couldn’t make it.

Picture taken by Nath Halawani

When the names of the winners were being announced, there were a lot of people disappointed with some results including myself in some categories, but you can’t possibly please everyone after all and even if the judges, who had a 50% say in the final vote, made the “wrong” call, you have to respect their decision and agree to disagree. After all, they are all highly respected individuals and some of them are more than qualified when it comes to social media. In fact, I believe the smartest decision taken by the SMA organizing committee was making the judges’ vote account for 50% of the final result.


Moving on to Haifa Wehbe‘s arrival, I honestly thought it was cool enough for her to attend the event (even though I dislike her). What I did not appreciate though was her unprofessional and disrespectful behavior towards the organizers, the crowd and the other SMA candidates. She arrived 3 hours late, while the name of a winner was being announced, interrupted them and felt free to make a TV interview in the middle of the ceremony, and then made a meaningless comment (“Twitter is my Bodyguard”) when she was handed her award. But then again, this is Haifa, a celebrity in the Arab world and what happened was almost inevitable in any event or talent show or TV show or whatsoever. Like I said at first, she made an effort just like Ziad Baroud (Not to be compared though in terms of behavior) to show up while other less important media figures didn’t bother come and I don’t care if they had other plans because I am sure Haifa has a busier agenda.

The funny part is that I saw more people upset about Haifa’s appearance than myself even though half the crowd was lined up around her while the four final awards were being handed out, including the Blog of the Year award which BlogBaladi won. To be honest, I was more annoyed by Neeshan’s video than Haifa’s act.

Picture taken by Nath Halawani

Moving on to food and organization, events like the SMAs cost a substantial amount of money and it’s normal for sponsors to offer location or food and request bigger exposure but that doesn’t mean they will win and we’ve seen how Roadster beat Crepaway, Almaza won two awards (With 961 being one of the sponsors) and Alfa ended up with 0 awards. Let us not forget that there’s nothing in it financially for the organizers, so it wouldn’t hurt to appreciate what they’ve done and point out constructively the mistakes and ways to avoid them in next year’s edition.

For example, I think the judges and celebrities should be seated in an isolated area next year so that we avoid what happened with Haifa’s arrival. Added to that, the most popular categories that don’t include celebrities should be announced in the middle of the ceremony as some people got bored after 2 hours and left. A third and more important point is to re-assess the categories and modify/remove/add some based on the online community’s feedback.

Picture Courtesy of BeirutNightLife

As for the After Party, I have nothing to say except it was awesome! Rodge In The Mix is a great DJ and it was one heck of a party! To make things even better, we got the AfterParty CD in the RagMag goodies bag and I am playing it as we speak.


On a last note, I attended the SMAs to have fun and hopefully win something and I ended up having a great time and winning a tremendous award. I could go on and on pointing out minor details that could have ruined it for me but I believe everyone agrees that we were all there to have fun and create a buzz online.

Thank you all for the support, and see you next year!