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UAE student campaign calls for ‘balance’ in use of technology

‘Wazen’ project seeks national dialogue on technology’s impact on community

UAE student campaign calls for ‘balance’ in use of technology
The Wazen campaign hopes to spread awareness that there is more to life than technology.

A group of UAE students has launched a social media campaign to encourage technology users not to neglect other aspects of their life.

The project is called Wazen, an Arabic word that translates as "strike a balance".  It was conceived by students from Zayed University and Higher College of Technology through their participation in a social responsibility programme called Ripples of Happiness, which was run by the Coca-Cola Foundation and INJAZ Al-Arab.

The Ripples initiative formed teams of students from 30 universities in six countries across the Middle East, to initiate "projects that allow them to make a positive impact in their communities", according to the programme's website. The Zayed University team, concerned about technology addiction in the UAE, compiled a video and, through social sites such as Twitter and Facebook, encouraged their community to "strike a balance" between technology use and the other aspects of life.

"Because technology makes our life faster and easier, we should not [be] using it wrongly or it will cause negative social, psychological and physical results," the Wazen team told ITP.net in an emailed statement. "It [is] just about making balance, that's it. We are not against technology."

The group invites technology users to send messages of balance using the hashtag #WAZEN. Messages posted so far range from "People #1 not tech" to more specific appeals such as "Stop using your phone while driving".

"The idea behind Wazen is a great concept and serves as a reminder that people should balance how they use technology with their real life relationships," Alex Malouf, corporate communications manager, Arabian Peninsula, Procter & Gamble, told ITP.net. Malouf is credited in Wazen's video as a mentor to the project.

"It's a locally grown initiative and the team at Zayed University have worked tirelessly to promote this message of positive change as part of their project for INJAZ and Coca Cola's Ripples of Happiness Initiative. We all need balance in our lives and Wazen is a reminder of that. I hope more people get involved and share their ideas as part of Wazen.

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