DUBAI: Facebook owner Meta is highlighting the work of social media users in the MENA region who have used its platforms to create large online communities.
The #CommunityStoriesMENA campaign focuses on four people:
• Hala Dahrouge, who founded Lebanon-based LibanTroc in 2019 as the country’s economic crisis began to bite;
• Marouan Zitane, founder of Moroccan Travelers Community, which champions sustainable travel;
• Rania Atef from Egypt, who began a support system for female entrepreneurs through I Make This!
• Ibrahim Safwat of Cairo Runners, who created one of the largest sports groups in Egypt.
Dahrouge’s LibanTroc is an 85,000-member organization that posts jobs, exchanges free goods and services, hosts fundraisers and more. It has helped more than 2,000 families by providing food, housing, and even life-saving surgeries.
“Grassroots efforts like ours have been around for as long as we can remember, but online platforms like Facebook Groups have boosted our reach and our ability to resolve issues and create impact,” Dahrouge said.
Zitane’s Moroccan Travelers Community encourages travelers to share their experiences and tips for sustainable tourism, and inspire each other to discover Morocco and beyond. Today, it has more than 340,000 members.
“Travel is such a rewarding experience, and by bringing members across Morocco together to celebrate it, we have encouraged people not only to discover more but to do so responsibly and sustainably,” said Zitane.
Atef, a photographer, started the group when she found traditional marketing hard and expensive and ended up building a community of 189,000 members.
Female-owned businesses can advertise their products on the page in exchange for inviting their network to like the page, thereby boosting the market audience for everyone.
“As a freelancer, I needed more bookings but could not afford the massive marketing budget. I realized that I was not the only one in the same boat and created I Make This! to band together like-minded female entrepreneurs and their networks and promote each other’s businesses, thus amplifying our reach many times over,” she explained.
Safwat’s Cairo Runners community organizes the Cairo Half Marathon, the biggest running event in Egypt with more than 5,000 participants.
“Through the Cairo Runners Facebook Page, we went from an online community to a real movement,” said Safwat. “As we grow, we are championing sustainability in sports with the aim of inspiring more environmentally friendly sports events.”
Rawya AbdelKader, Meta’s regional communications manager, said: “On a daily basis, we see stories that showcase the best of humanity.
“It may not always make the public spotlight, but every day people are using our apps to help others and support their community — becoming blood donors, connecting with people who need help, or joining a collective movement to change and discover,” she added.