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'Ordinary' Arabs to retake Internet

WEFME: Online explosion will show world that region is just like anywhere else, says Wikipedia founder.

An explosion in internet usage in the Middle East by "ordinary" people will show the world that the region is just like anywhere else, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said on Sunday.

"Too often when people around the world reflect on the situation in the Middle East they focus on extremism and the different problems," Wales told journalists at the World Economic Forum (WEF) for the Middle East.

But with current total Internet usage by one billion people set to double in the next five to 10 years, Wales said that "we're going to start hearing from ordinary people".

"And I think that ordinary people are far more moderate and far more ordinary than the unfortunately polarised views of extremes you see coming out," the founder of the popular user-generated encyclopedia said.

New internet users are "not going to be coming online from US, Europe, Japan", but from developing countries, he said.

"Over time people will start to see the Middle East in a very different light and not see it as a basket of problems."

They will "see it as a place like any other that has strengths and weaknesses, with hundreds of millions of people just trying to make a better life".

Wikipedia is an "open-source" website on which entries can be started or edited by anyone in the world with an internet connection.