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July 2 2022 2:31 AM ˚
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Harassing who serve us

Khalid Dalal
Khalid Dalal is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, a former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for business development at Al-Ghad and Jordan News.
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We might laugh at some memes or jokes circulated online and through mobile phone chat apps about public figures. This is normal and acceptable when harmless and when it stops there. But last week's episode involving a text-book case of bullying and harassment of ArabiaWeather CEO Mohammed Al-Shaker went too far.اضافة اعلان

It started with someone obtaining the young entrepreneur's personal mobile phone number and sharing it with very many people on very many platforms. The mob mentality kicked in, and many thought it was just a joke. In fact, it is not.

Shaker, who represents the best of Jordanian youth due to his hard work, perseverance, entrepreneurial spirit and a success story that has made our country proud, said in interviews that he was harassed over the phone hundreds of times just because some persons thought, due to a couple of hours-delay in the arrival of snow to Amman on Wednesday, that ArabiaWeather was wrong in its forecast of heavy snow.

Those people did not wait to see that the prediction was 100 percent accurate. They jumped at the opportunity of accessing his phone number and were having fun directing insults at him and his family.

He had to deal with a storm of abusive texts and phone calls before the good-for-nothing critics realized that he and his team were right and they were wrong.

Shaker's ArabiaWeather Inc. "is the leading provider of weather products, services, and solutions to consumers and businesses in the Middle East".

The entrepreneur, who started as an amateur and single-handedly built his successful enterprise, created tens of jobs for young people manning the company's offices in Jordan and elsewhere, including "world-class talented meteorologists, data scientists, developers, designers, and salespeople".

All this is a made-in-Jordan product; and we have more start-ups that are now worth hundreds of millions, with a couple already sold for fortunes to international giants like Amazon and Yahoo. The latest was Jordan-made mobile application, Jawaker, which has been acquired for $205 million by Stillfront, a global group of gaming studios.

It is not clear yet if Shaker has filed official complaints against the bullies, but we are confident that the law enforcement agencies will take some measures under these, and other, circumstances, and we do need that, to make an example of the perpetrators to others, and eventually put an end to this alarming behavior.

This socio-psychological phenomenon has been part of the social life ever since the first human community took shape. It is simply about getting away with hostile actions by hiding, or disappearing, in a crowd of like-minded people who are committing the same crime collectively. Police work is very important here, but a holistic approach is the actual solution.

This starts with the family and school. Parents, teachers, religious preachers, influencers and others conveying the message to the younger generation that cyberbullying and harassment of others in any form is not funny. In other words: the people, who find time and desire to design a meme to mock others or pick the phone to bully a fellow citizen have nothing else to do, which takes us to a different level, where we should work harder to find jobs for young people or get them busy with doing useful things through well-designed and well-thought engagement programs.

Let us start with serious scientific studies of the phenomenon in the Jordanian context, and make recommendations to experts and decision makers to design and implement awareness programs, coupled with toughening the legal consequences of the act of bullying at all levels. Let us do it before it is too late.

The writer is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, a former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for business development at Al-Ghad and Jordan News.


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