Bahrain Internet Society (BIS) Board member and Director of Strategic Alliances and Vice Chair of the Asian, Australasian and Pacific Islands Regional At-Large Organisation (APRALO) Leadership Team, Mr. Ali AlMeshal was a key speaker in both his capacity as Vice Chair of APRALO and BIS Board member at the week-long I-Net Conference (PacINET2014) held recently on the main island Rarotonga, capital and hub of The Cook Islands from 22nd - 26th September, 2014.
This annual conference was coordinated by The Cook Islands Internet Action Group (CIIAG) on behalf of the Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society (PICISOC) and hosted by the local government of The Cook Islands under the patronage of its Finance Minister, The Honourable Mark Brown.
Al-Meshal represented Asia and the Pacific region on behalf of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN); a global internet stakeholder organisation,
delivering a presentation about APRALO’s role in advocating the interests of individual internet users. AlMeshal gave another presentation about BIS and its role in developing internet awareness in Bahrain and encouraging Bahrainis and residents to participate and compete in creating and developing Bahrain Internet industry. Speaking to Media at the conference, AlMeshal said "There is room for greater participation amongst the public, companies and greater civil society in the Pacific to advance the technology needs of the region." Throughout the weeklong conference, many sessions and workshops were held, in Rarotonga at different venues, which addressed a number of important internet issues including improving accessibility of internet and its effects on the development of the economy. AlMeshal said: "These professional gatherings and discussions took place with an objective to help improve the understanding of the internet; how it works, its importance to the local & international economy, how its costs can be reduced and the importance of developing internet usage policies. ICANN is an important organisation and is well known for its efforts in developing internet governance and pushing for more diversified participation and accessibility to the internet in Asia, the Pacific region and worldwide."
As part of the preplanned agenda, AlMeshal presented Pacific related issues connected to ICANN and discussed the value of At-Large Structures (ALS) representation from the Pacific to the conference. He also participated in discussion on policy issues within ICANN, encouraging more ALS participation within ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC). Furthermore, AlMeshal shared his experience on the Middle East Strategy Group with the delegates.
Moreover, he met Pacific Island government and telecom officials and conference delegates with a number of goals that included providing APRALO Leaders with a better understanding of the Pacific Digital Strategy and how it fits in with ICANN activities, promoting ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model in the Pacific and supporting CIIAG driven initiatives to promote ICANN outreach activities within The Cook Islands.
In terms of proposed outcomes of his visit and participation, AlMeshal was able to raise awareness among The Cook Islands and Pacific Islands Chapter, Internet Society (PICISOC) community of ICANN and APRALO and their roles, provide the opportunity for APRALO leadership team members to obtain first hand knowledge of the internet environment of a developing island nation, arrange for Cook Islands government officials to meet with ICANN community representatives and discuss issues of concern at their level, and last but not least, encourage more participation of The Cook Islands community in ICANN activities.
It is worth mentioning that AlMeshal is the first Bahraini and probably the first GCC citizen and Arab to visit The Cook Islands; an island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand, which encompasses 15 small islands with a total land area of 240 Sq.Kms with Rarotonga being the main island and on it located is Avarua, the official capital of The Cook Islands. Among other elements of the economy, The Cook Islands' main industry is tourism with thousands of tourists visiting it every year. It is also an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covering 1,800,000 Sq. Kms of ocean. AlMeshal went on an exploratory trip around Rarotonga, which he considered an educational and overwhelming experience recommending tourists and nature lovers who are looking for a natural healthy touristic spot with clean Pacific beaches to visit The Cook Islands.