The Khaleejesque team continually ponders with the barrage of research, commercial trends, and click bait articles that have called ‘time of death’ on our respective field of publishing. With our collected knowledge, network, and experience in what is seemingly a “dying field,” we set to formulate our own research more focused on the MENA publishing scene on a global scale—namely, niche and independent publishing platforms, whether print or online, founded and staffed by young Arabs and Muslims from around the world. 

As a platform that strives to amplify the voices of creatives and activists alike, we are dedicated to sharing our findings on a burgeoning field amongst creatives of the MENA region and beyond. As traditional publishing houses increasingly diminish, these independent platforms are paving the way for a new movement—heralding a cultural paradigm shift towards an egalitarian voice in publishing far from the constraints of traditional print and online media.

As a result, we’ve published a MENA Indie Zines and Platforms feature which can be accessed here.

In addition we’ve reached out to individual Zines who have shared with us their intricate workings and their missions and visions for their platform.  

These are collective answers from the team at The AJALA Project.

The AJALA Project, event
  • About the Platform:

The creative industries have been identified as the fastest growing driver of world economy. This is because they rely more on an unlimited global resource — human creativity. The contributions of the creative industries to GDP in countries like the UAE and Nigeria is yet to be captured because of the absence of verifiable statistical data on the sector. 

There is a need for a platform like ours that aims to provide insights, develop infrastructures, and create initiatives to inform the creative workforce about avenues of collaboration so that the sector can develop sustainably and be a contributor to the overall growth of their communities. 

The objectives of our platform is to help integrate innovation and infrastructure in development strategies, drive the role of creative industries for sustainable development, and most importantly facilitate mutually beneficial collaborations between creative communities and institutions. 

  • Content: what is your publication concerned with and what kind of content does it feature?

Developing platforms, policies, and strategies around social innovations for developing communities in Asia and Africa. Our interventions are aided by the creative industries and its potential to influence and inspire present and future generations, to protect our planet, people, cultures; thereby contributing to a sustainable and inclusive development path.

  • The team behind the platform: 

Team: Hassan Adebayo Bello (Full time), Ankita Garg (Full time), Jomi Onanuga (Part time).

Hassan is a software engineer turned social entrepreneur. In 2017, he founded The Ajala Project, a platform which has empowered 250 change-makers and made over 80 creative and social impact projects possible. He finds great joy and fulfillment in embarking on initiatives that promote inclusivity, social justice and building an enabling environment for emerging creatives, underrepresented minorities and people of color. He has a lot of experience in working with teams to develop tech for good solutions and applying design-thinking methodologies and processes to tackle complex global issues. His current interests lie in developing platforms, strategies and policies for social innovation leveraging the culture and creative industries.

Ankita is a multidisciplinary designer/ artist with an MFA in Communication Design from Pratt Institute, New York. She was involved in curating ‘Breathing roots, Baggage carriers’, an installation about the need for mangrove conservation in UAE at the Sikka Art Fair 2019 in Dubai. As part of her ongoing research, she designed ‘Spaces of Imagination’, a public art installation about shared experiences and empathy, at the Pratt Sculpture Garden in New York City in 2017.

Jomi is the Founder of Cards etal, a design and print company which, for the love of businesses striving in Nigeria, is focused on producing the best quality business cards and office stationery for them. He is also co- founder of Codes learners, a tech education company that teaches basic, as well as advanced computer programming to individuals between the ages of 6 and 60 in Schools, homes and offices.

from left to right: Ankita Garg, Hassan Adebayo Bello, and Jomi Onanuga
  • Work Space:

Dubai: in5 Design at Dubai Design District & in5 Tech at Dubai Internet City
Lagos: Co-working spaces and Remotely

Images courtesy of The AJALA Project.

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