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Mideast & North Africa


Innovation success in Middle East, Africa and Turkey

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Innovation success in Middle East, Africa and Turkey

The GNI Innovation Challenges, part of Google’s $300 million commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age, have seen news innovators across the world step forward with many exciting initiatives demonstrating new thinking.  The 3rd Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge launched in February 2022, and received 425 applications from 42 countries – a 27% increase in overall applications. After a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a final jury selection process, 34 projects were selected from 17 countries to receive $3.2 million in funding. This Innovation Challenge saw a significant increase in applications from news organizations undertaking fact checking activities: an increase of 118% when compared to previous Innovation Challenges in the region. Proposed projects which use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) also showed significant growth (92%), reflecting a trend across the news ecosystem to embrace cutting edge new technologies and data.

The call for applications listed five criteria: impact on the news ecosystem; innovation; diversity, equity and inclusion; inspiration; and feasibility – and the chosen projects clearly demonstrated all five. Here’s a selection of successful recipients from the Middle East and North Africa (you can find the full list on our website):

ARIJ from Jordan will facilitate the development of an AI Strategy tailored to journalistic entities in the region. They will produce an open-source Starter Manual in Arabic for small to medium media outlets and fact-checking units to to build their own AI Strategy based on their needs and challenges.
Donia Al Watan from Palestine will build an app that enables journalists to have an instant access to news and information by collecting them from multiple sources (social media, rss, email, etc), and categorizing them based on user preferences depending on AI/ML algorithm.
Egyptian Streets from Egypt will launch ES+, a two-part subscription and educational offering, enabling Egyptian Streets to create a new, sustainable revenue stream for the business while making a difference for young, emerging journalists.
Majarra from the UAE will apply AI and ML to use readers’ data to better help them navigate their website and be more inclusive to female subscribers.
Okaz from Saudi Arabia will build a paywall system to charge micro payments per article based on a wallet concept. The solution will be based on a mobile application and a web based platform.

The successful recipients will be embarking on their projects later this summer and will share their learnings with the wider news ecosystem.