April 22nd, 2009
09:55 AM ET

Twitter does Baghdad

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/22/art.twitter.baghdad1.jpg caption="Twitter founder meets with a delegation of businesspeople in Baghdad, sponsored by the U.S. State Department."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/22/art.twitter.baghdad2.jpg caption="Business executives in Baghdad meet with representatives from firms such as Google and Twitter."]

Cal Perry
CNN Baghdad Correspondent

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is in town! You know the world has gone Twitter crazy when the fastest-growing social network in the world comes Baghdad.

Baghdad is one of the most dangerous, broken and sometimes backward-seeming cities in the world. Yet if you set out across Baghdad, you can see it has regrown a tremendous amount in a short time.

As we drove to meet with Dorsey, we saw people on the streets, and in restaurants and Internet cafes, in numbers that you just never saw during the height of civil war here.

So. no wonder Twitter is in town. And they're not alone – executives from Google, AT&T and Youtube are also part of a delegation sponsored by the US State Department.

The executives are seeing presentations from 6 different ministries. One problem, however, is that while people in Iraq would probably like to "tweet" – they can't. Six years of war have torn this country apart – the infrastructure must be rebuilt first.

Businessman Aziz Alnassiri laid out the problem pretty clearly: "Most ministries, the guys who are sitting here – they just use (personal) computers for email. And they don't even have (government) email addresses, they use Yahoo. Most of the Iraqi government uses Yahoo as their trusted email server. Which is all wrong, of course. They should have their own network – their own servers."

The Iraqi government can't even estimate how many people have access to the Internet. And electrical power is unreliable across Iraq – making it all the more difficult for people like Dorsey to get companies off the ground.

But Dorsey wants more than just Iraqi citizens on Twitter – he wants the Iraqi government on Twitter. "We'd like to be a valuable service. We'd like to create something that the entire world can use. And especially with this market. Because what we've seen and what we've learned is that 85 percent of the people here have mobile phones. And a large number of them want to participate in the government. And the interesting thing about Twitter as we've seen in the US is that it allows a lot of transparency as to what is happening in the government," he told me.

It is an open market – and without question, there is money to be made in Iraq for these companies if the violence continues to stay at a low level. Which begs the question: can executives like these bring Iraq back - to the 21st Century.

Filed under: Cal Perry • Iraq • Technology
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Lesley Anne

    Perhaps Bush/Cheney should have twittered Iraq instead of bombing it. Let corporate executives invade the country and clean it up. Twitter could have become the WMD of the West.

    April 22, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  2. Abdullah

    I am sure Twitter is first on Baghdad's list of things to get

    April 22, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  3. nashwa bakri

    great idea

    April 22, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  4. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Another tool to be used by the intelligence community to track the global conflict. The thing about chat sites--you really don't know who you are talking to--do you?

    April 22, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  5. salma

    yes, they can , Baghdad is a growing democracy
    and with that comes big company's and big money
    These company's will bring employment and money to
    the country. I wonder how the Iraqi's feel about so many
    American company's coming to their country and taking
    the bread and butter that rightly should be theirs to put
    in their pockets instead these company's from the USA.

    April 22, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  6. Alex

    An information invasion! Good for those to rebuild what they have destroyed, 21st Century, so sarcastic!

    April 22, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  7. mego

    Check this out.

    April 22, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  8. Terry, TX

    Great..... I just don't like to do it.

    April 22, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  9. Heather,ca

    I think its smart.A really great idea. You have to be creative and fortunately there is all this great technology that allows all of us to communicate in all sorts of ways and its free and you cant get better than that.

    April 22, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  10. Bryon

    I think it's a great ideal, reaching out!

    April 22, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  11. Naniam

    Hmmm-So now they call it a civil war? I thought it was still an illegal occupation of a sovereign nation? Whatever right? "Most dangerous,broken and sometimes back-ward seeming"-well maybe now that the USA murdered an elected official CIA trained-who ran a "non-religious" govt-which kept religious fanatics in check,dropped more bombs than in Hiro/Naga-used illegal depleted uranium coated ammo-blew up sewer systems,elec grids,hosp,schools etc etc-yes 6 years of war??UMM remember 1990-Daddy Bush Desert Storm-we have been there FOREVER at a tragic cost to our nation and the Iraqi nation-start reporting the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth

    April 22, 2009 at 11:01 am |