Google MENA held their first real life hangout with bloggers in the UAE at The Pavilion Dowtown Dubai and I was one of the selected (read: lucky) few to be invited. Joining us from the Google team was Ari Kesisoglu (MD Google MENA), Maha Abouelenein (Comms head for Google MENA) and Hind Rasheed (Comms Manager for Google MENA).
Both Joe Akkawi (@JoeAkkawi) and Ion Gonzaga (@ionGonzaga) have covered the event quite exhaustively on their blogs (and I highly encourage you to check it out) so I’m not going to be doing that again. I will however talk about my impressions of the event. The entire event was very Google-esque, right from the choice of the venue to the setup of it. Not only was it done in an informal setting, the Google team (and especially Ari) were extremely welcoming and encouraging of our feedback, and were extremely gracious in receiving it – both the good and the bad. In fact, at one point @IbaMasood and I went into a semi rant of sorts against Gmail’s search operators and Ari was listening intently. I’m not sure if/when improvements may be made, but at the very least it served as catharsis. I can imagine the other attendees may have had similar conversations with the team.
The event served as a great way to meet fellow bloggers who I have only met virtually until now as well as a catalyst for discussions about issues affecting us – not necessarily with Google products. The Google team here must be lauded for effectively putting together a great event without turning into a sales pitch as Iba may have feared. Ha.
I only managed to get a few pictures of the event which can be found on my Google+ page (had to be done). I must say I’m already looking forward to the next one.