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IT Tone Magazine

By: Joji Montelibano,
RAND Corporation — Doha, Qatar

Reading the first issue of IT Tone was a pleasure. The mission of the magazine is "to enhance and strengthen the value of information technology among the new generation." To this end, the magazine offers articles discussing a wide spectrum of IT-related issues. I was very impressed by the way the magazine ventures to explain technologies that I would have deemed too arcane for the typical computer user. For instance, the topic of "buses" within a computer's system board could have even a computer science major yawning in a second. However, the journal manages to describe this fundamental operation in one page, striking a balance of humor and technical know-how. The magazine gives valuable background describing some of the more prevalent technologies in use today, such as Bluetooth technology, MMS, and MP3's. Most importantly, IT Tone gives simple advice on how to protect your computer from viruses and suggestions for general computer maintenance. I especially enjoyed the "how-to" articles, ranging on tips and tricks for Adobe Photoshop to how to build your own website.

The magazine also provides incentives to be more active in the IT community, such as a contest for creating an "IT-related CD" with a Dhs 5,000 prize (approx. U.S $ 1200). Additionally, they offer a full page where young people can advertise their web pages for free.

This magazine is printed in the UAE, and the opening pages make it clear that there is strong official support for its mission. The publication is indicative of the region's realization that they are falling way behind in IT literacy. Just a few numbers can illustrate this. The world average for internet availability is 9.7 persons out of 100; in the Middle East, the ratio is 2.6/100. Not one single Arab country is among the top 50 in international network use. By contrast, Nigeria, Bangladesh, the Ukraine and Bulgaria made the cut. Within the Arab world, however, the UAE is the leader, so we would expect a magazine like this one to originate here.

With its user-friendly presentation and its mix of applications that are serious and those — like games —that are purely for fun, this is clearly part of the effort to reach out to the region's next generation. Featuring competent role models ranging in age from 12 to the early 20s, and including plenty of young women, it is designed to give encouragement to those who might be feeling intimidated.

IT Tone profiles some young professionals in the UAE whom they present as models for an IT career. These profiles were a little skimpy. It would have been nice to know more about what their exact achievements were.

Throughout the magazine, there are admonitions to readers to not spend all their time at the computer and to be sure to spend time with their family and friends: advice that is important to keep in mind, no matter what part of the world you live in.

We asked the youngest member of RQPI in Doha, Lulwah Al-Thani, to view the youth-oriented blogs and websites recommended in IT TONE magazine. Here are her observations:

"On the plus side, most of these sites have good graphics, and you can see that someone has spent a lot of time on them — too much time, in some cases, as the sites are just too busy. is made by a 22 year old freelance graphic artist who also uses the site to sell handbags she designs, so that's clever. is especially attractive from a visual standpoint. Still, I don't imagine that anyone would frequently visit these sites, because there isn't a lot of useful content. Also, they are confusing. For example, features a long memorial to someone who died, but you never find out who he is.

The young women I know prefer to go to This site covers everything one might be interested in, from nutrition and health to child-raising tips and fashion topics. There is a section on social problems, a science park, and information about the internet. Another site that is popular with young people is The word means "open space" or "forum", and the site is very free, views of all kinds can be expressed. The most frequent issues being discussed in the political section of the site are controversies related to Saudi Arabia, Sunni/Shia issues, and the aftermath and meaning of 9-11. The site also includes topics on sports and economics. Of course, which sites are visited just depends on the interests of the person. Sports are very popular, and two of the best regional sites for that are and Music is another big thing, and a lot of young people visit Chat is more popular with kids between the ages of 12 — 15. I would estimate that young people spend an average of one hour a day on the computer, surfing, emailing and with chat."

Joji Montelibano is the IT Site Administrator for the RAND Qatar Policy Institute in Doha, Qatar. He has worked in the field of IT for more than a decade, starting out as an applications programmer and evolving into his present incarnation as a Network/Systems Administrator. When not in front of the computer, he devotes his time to his wonderful wife and little son. Occasionally, he has been known to shoot a basketball and even score every now and then. He holds an undergraduate engineering degree from Stanford University, and graduate degrees from the University of Southern California and Harvard University.

Lulwah Al-Thani is a graduate of Qatar Academy, and is currently working at the Rand Qatar Policy Institute in Doha, Qatar.