Riyadh SharePoint User Group a success story

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It has been a long time since I have blogged on my personal web site.  I do not know why but it was some unknown power stopping me from blogging anymore.  But I made my mind now to do one blog as much as I can.  During the time I was not blogging I was busy in some other community based work.  Most of the time I was working as Technical Trainer for Microsoft SharePoint 2007, Microsoft Project and Project Server and Microsoft .NET.  In the past few months I have trained many people on Microsoft Official curriculum courses like 5060, 5061, 50026 for SharePoint and  Project Server 2007 MOCs.  The great thing in these training is that each time you do it you learn something new.  Sometimes you enjoy answer a tough question and some time you laugh on some question you already answer in all the sessions you did.

Other than my training’s I was busy in making Riyad h SharePoint User Group.  A community of SharePoint Developers working in Riyadh and Saudi Arabia.  Communities are rare in Saudi Arabia specially Technical ones because of the culture.  Most of the professional working here are Expats so they do not like to spend time in communities because they never have to live here for long time.  Another import fact is that people do not know many people as everyone has their own work at many different places and different types of business e.g. OIL and GAS, Banking, Finance, Sales and Marketing.

Nothing is free in Kingdom other than the nice hospitality and friendliness.  But ever since I arrived in Kingdom I was discussing the idea with my friends here to setup something.  In June this year I went in and started a Facebook Group and added my colleagues and personal friends including few MVP’s from the community.  In July after the launch of ISPA by BOB Fox I sent an email to him asking about his support for creating the public community.  He responded quickly by giving me the the link to Mahanud Omar MVP SharePoint and the main thread started. 

Initially we added 3 people as board members which were Me, Areej Abubakar, Deemah and Rasha , but later we added 2 more persons to fill the gap.  We did our first online meeting in august 2008 but as I was back to Pakistan so I was unable to attend.  But after returning back to KSA I started the thread from scratch and was able to get the board members in one place to do our first ever Board meeting in person.  The attendees were Me, Ali Nimer our latest board member, Deemah, Rasha and Areej.  By the time we have our meeting we already have got our public web site from ISPA which was a normal WSS Community website.  We decided to do the branding the site to make it appealing for the people to join our group.  So the group web site was designed by SAJA and Rasha. 

First Board Meeting

First board meeting was nice introduction to all board members and we discussed the future of the group including its meeting, web site design etc.

Below are some of the pictures from the events.

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First Board Meeting Images    

Second Board Meeting

Second board meeting proved to be very nice as we had the company of Muhanad a Microsoft SharePoint MVP with us who guided us about his experience of SharePoint community back in Jordon.  We officially launched our group web site after 1 week of hard work by our group designers.

Me, Muhanad and Ali Nimer  

First Public Meeting

First public meeting proved to be successful as 35 out of 40 registered members visited the group meeting.  Some points are given below

  • Initially we got 20 attendees 15 minutes before the event; but just before the start of the meeting the numbers increase to more than 30.
  • I started the event by introducing our group briefly and invited GB – eBusiness Manager Mr. Eyad Kaddura (Chief Guest)
  • Eyad Kaddura presented EJADA and its role in supporting our group and working in Microsoft Technologies.  Attendees were impressed to see EJADA share in the Gulf software, IT and banking sector.
  • Then I presented again in detail about the group including its objectives, vision and mission with another group lead from outside EJADA.
  • Later Mahunad Omar (MVP Microsoft SharePoint) presented ISPA (International SharePoint Professional Association) role in making groups and his experience of communities as a whole.
  • Abdur Rahman Al-Qhantani (Microsoft Technology Specialist – SharePoint) presented Introduction to SharePoint 2007 which was liked very much and he presented gifts of Microsoft SharePoint 2008 Conference DVDs to Group Leads.
  • Tea and Snacks was served to the attendees.
  • All this event took place at 6th floor meeting room in EJADA office.
  • Some of the images and our slides and list of attendees are attached in the email.  For more information please visit http://www.sharepointgroups.org/rsug/ or Click here
  • Everybody liked the event discussed about more events in coming days so we announced our second public meeting on 27th of November 2008.  Although we managed to do it at EJADA office as our first meeting was successful enough we are expecting more attendees this time.

2nd Public Meeting

Our second public meeting was the best of all.  This time we managed to hold our meeting at Radison and Saas hotel in Riyadh and we got huge response.

  • 80 People registered for the event and almost 85 were there on the event.  Ali Nimer started with introduction of the group
  • 3. I did my first technical session "Developer Introduction to SharePoint 2007" which include a demo of developing features in SharePoint.
  • Muhanad did a very nice architecture session
  • Lunch was served to the all participants.
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Next Step

After all this happened our next public meeting will be in February 2009.  It is in the planning phase.  Please do visit http://www.sharepointgroups.org/rsug/default.aspx for more details.

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Regards,

Jerry

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