Esra'a Al Shafei

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Esra'a Al Shafei
Born (1986-07-23) 23 July 1986 (age 37)
OrganizationMajal (Mideast Youth) Edit this at Wikidata

Esra'a Al Shafei (Arabic: إسراء الشافعي ’Asrā’ ash-Shāfa’ī; born 23 July 1986)[1] is a Bahraini civil rights activist, blogger, and the founder and executive director of Majal (Mideast Youth) and its related projects, including[2] Al Shafei is a senior TED Fellow,[3] an Echoing Green fellow,[4] and has been referred to by CNN reporter George Webster as "An outspoken defender of free speech".[5] She has been featured in Fast Company magazine as one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business."[6] In 2011, The Daily Beast listed Al Shafei as one of the 17 bravest bloggers worldwide.[7] She is also a promoter of music as a means of social change,[5] and founded Mideast Tunes, which is currently the largest platform for underground musicians in the Middle East and North Africa.[8]

Al Shafei is a recipient of the Berkman Award for Internet Innovation from Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School in 2008 for "outstanding contributions to the internet and its impact on society."[9] In 2012, she received a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship for her work on the open source platform[10] She is also the recipient of the Monaco Media Prize, which acknowledges innovative uses of media for the betterment of humanity.[11] In 2014, she was featured in Forbes magazine's "30 Under 30" list of social entrepreneurs making an impact in the world.[12] The World Economic Forum listed her as one of "15 Women Changing the World in 2015."[13] That same year, she won the "Most Courageous Media" Prize[14] from Free Press Unlimited. Al Shafei was selected as a 2017 Director's Fellow at the MIT Media Lab.[15] In 2018 she was listed as one of BBC's 100 Women.[16]

Al Shafei was a keynote speaker at Wikimania 2017. In December of the same year, she was appointed to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.[17] In January 2023, she was appointed to the board of The Tor Project.[18]


Avatar used by Esra'a Al Shafei

Esra'a Al Shafei, according to her own account, recalls witnessing inhumane treatment of migrant workers as a child. This, along with stereotypical media portrayals of middle eastern youth, prompted her to found the Mideast Youth network.[19] Over time, the network expanded to include other civil rights issues within the Middle East, and branched out to create a diverse range of platforms with a global reach.

We want our humanity and our futures in our own hands and we use the internet and other forms of technology to fight for those rights[19]

— Esra'a Al Shafei

In 2006, she started blogging with WordPress.[20] She uses Twitter to communicate, but deletes her Tweets if they go viral.[21]

The consequences of attending a metal or rock event is a topic of discussion that's frequently raised on Mideast Youth.

It isn't just young people but professionals who don't want to put their jobs on the line who are worried. Women, in particular, express concern about harming their reputation.

A lot of times you'll find people secretly arranging to attend these groups.[22]

— Esra'a Al Shafei

Her music streaming site is a way for underground music to penetrate isolated markets, such as MENA.[23] Her sites can push information out to the masses that is not found in mainstream outlets.[24] Al Shafei has blogged for CNN and the Huffington Post.[25]

Esra’a doesn't show her face online[26] — using an illustration when engaging in video conferences and for bylines — because she has been threatened with violence in the past[26] and, as an activist in a non-free authoritarian regime,[27] it would put her and her family at risk if she were recognisable.[26][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Human Rights Tulip 2014 goes to Mideast Youth". Human Rights Tulip. 9 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Archiving the world, one protest at a time". 22 April 2014. Archived from the original on 26 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  3. ^ "TED fellows directory". TEDGlobal 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  4. ^ "Echoing Green fellows directory". Echoing Green 2009. Archived from the original on 30 December 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  5. ^ a b George Webster (12 March 2010). "YouTube gives Bahraini youth window to world". CNN. Archived from the original on 3 July 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  6. ^ "the 100 most creative people in business in 2011". Archived from the original on 13 August 2017.
  7. ^ "World's Bravest Bloggers". Archived from the original on 18 November 2011.
  8. ^ Chalfoun, Romeo. "Mideast Tunes Hosts 1300 Underground Bands from the MENA". ArabNet. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  9. ^ Berkman Award for Internet Innovation for Mideast Youth in 2008 Archived 8 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship Archived 27 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Andy Plesser (11 November 2011). "Bahraini Blogger Wins Monaco Media Prize". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  12. ^ William White (7 January 2014). "Who Topped the Forbes 30 Under 30 List?". InvestorPlace. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  13. ^ Parker, Ceri. "15 Women Changing the World in 2015". World Economic Forum. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  14. ^ Free Press Unlimited. "Bahraini journalist Esra'a Al Shafei wins' Most Courageous Media Award 2015". Archived from the original on 13 August 2017.
  15. ^ MIT Media Lab (30 May 2017). "Media Lab announces 2017 Director's Fellows". Archived from the original on 29 November 2017.
  16. ^ "BBC 100 Women 2018: Who is on the list?". BBC News. 19 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Esra'a Al Shafei joins Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees". Wikimedia Foundation. 1 December 2017. Archived from the original on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  18. ^ Albert, Kendra (24 January 2023). "Announcing new board members". The Tor Project. Retrieved 25 January 2023.
  19. ^ a b Simon Columbus (19 July 2009). "Interview with Esra'a Al Shafei on freedom of expression in the Middle East". Gulli. Archived from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  20. ^ Hicks, Jennifer (3 February 2012). "Esra'a Al-Shafei Uses Blogs To Create A Voice For Those Without One". Forbes. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  21. ^ Elgin, Benjamin; Robison, Peter (27 October 2016). "Why Your Tweets Are Incredibly Valuable—and Dangerous". Bloomberg Technology. Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 16 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  22. ^ Wong, Grace (12 March 2010). "Death metal rockers raise eyebrows in sedate Bahrain –". CNN. Archived from the original on 19 March 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  23. ^ Holland, Jessica (27 October 2013). "Music of the Middle East: The website and app Mideast Tunes allows users to stream music from across the Mena region for free. Bands can now register for inclusion". The National. Archived from the original on 29 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  24. ^ Davies, Catriona (15 September 2011). "The Middle East's leaders of the future? – CNN". CNN. Archived from the original on 2 June 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  25. ^ Al Shafei, Esra'a (24 August 2010). "Young Muslims must use social media to promote peace –". CNN. Archived from the original on 14 April 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  26. ^ a b c Kirk, Danielle (8 April 2018). "Esra'a Al Shafei risks her own life to bring social justice in the Middle East". Six-Two. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  27. ^ "Bahrain". Freedom House. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  28. ^ "Esra'a Al Shafei, Founder & Director of, Bahrain — 2018 Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards Nominee". The Fem Word. 10 October 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2021.

External links[edit]