Marhaba! Introducing Al Huffington Post Maghreb

I'm delighted to announce the launch of Al Huffington Post Maghreb, a French-language edition of The Huffington Post covering the Maghreb countries -- Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. Just last month we launched our first Asian edition, in Japan, and now we're thrilled to be bringing The Huffington Post to Africa, inviting people in the Maghreb to add their voices to the growing global conversation.

From antiquity to the present day, the Maghreb -- as a unique intersection of Arab, African, and Mediterranean cultures -- has been a place rich in history and diversity. And the launch comes at a time when the Maghreb region, perhaps as much as any other in the world, is undergoing a seismic transformation -- socially, politically, economically -- which has drawn the world's attention to Maghreb and its people and put the spotlight on its enormous untapped potential.

That's where Al Huffington Post Maghreb comes in. As both a journalistic outlet and a blogging platform, we will be telling the most important stories in the region, and at the same time, inviting the people of the Maghreb to tell their stories themselves. The changes in the region have created a new generation of citizens, electrified by all the new possibilities. Al Huffington Maghreb wants to tell and share their stories.

We are extremely fortunate to be launching the new edition in partnership with two people with deep personal and professional roots in Maghreb: journalist and novelist Alix Etournaud and Fares Mabrouk, co-founder of the Arab Policy Institute. As Fares, who is Tunisian, puts it: "The Arab World has decided to reinvent itself. This decision did not come from the top. It was claimed by each and every one of us, from the most famous to the anonymous, and it is to these voiceless that the Al Huffington Post Maghreb promises to give a voice."

By doing this, there is a tremendous opportunity for Al Huffington Post Maghreb to do its part to contribute to the consolidation of the region's young democracy. It's an opportunity underscored by the countless bloggers already at work in the region, at a time when free expression is not a given, but more of a work in progress. As Alix, who has reported on the impact of social media on the Arab Spring, puts it: "I have been fascinated by the bloggers' courage and their determination, by the way they took risks to inform the rest of the world about what was happening in the country. The Maghreb has a special place in my heart, because my grandmother was born in Tunis, and because she, and my grandfather, lived in Morocco, where I used to go on vacations every summer." The Maghreb region's ongoing transformation runs parallel to a larger shift in media -- from presentation to participation. And as the Maghreb becomes a more open society and as more voices join the conversation, there's a growing need for a platform with international reach, and at The Huffington Post, we intend to translate a lot of what appears in Al Huffington Post Maghreb -- into English, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and soon German -- so that the reach of the voices from the new democracy can be truly global.

In these ways, Al Huffington Post Maghreb aims to gain the trust of its readers, in the region and around the world, by presenting a full, many-faceted picture of the region, covering key issues like the Constitution, new freedoms, and education, while inviting people to weigh in and share their opinions, ideas, and hopes. By bringing together the voices of professional journalists and ordinary people with something to share, we believe Al Huffington Post Maghreb can embody that defining shift from presentation to participation, not just reporting the news and having the "experts" tell us what it means, but by opening up the conversation to all. It's an approach rooted in our belief that openness, inclusiveness, and transparency can yield a virtual public square that transcends ideology, nationality and religion.

Al Huffington Post Maghreb will also be a place to discuss and celebrate the Maghreb's culture and history. The changes shaping today's Maghreb are founded on thousands of years of civilization, and in addition to looking to the region's future, the new site will be imbued with the region's rich past -- its centuries-old mosques, its distinctive and delicious culinary traditions (couscous, tagine, shakshouka), and the customs of the many communities that have shaped the Maghreb over the centuries, and whose influences can still be felt today.

Leading Al Huffington Post Maghreb will be our editorial director, Kader A. Abderrahim, who has been a journalist for 25 years. After studying political science in France, he worked as a reporter for publications including Libération, les Cahiers de l'Orient, and la Croix, and more recently as editor-in-chief of TV5Monde. His book L'independance comme seul but ("Independence as the Only Goal") won a 2008 Francophone Press prize.

Managing editor Houeida Anouar has been telling stories and sharing her opinions for years, both as a human rights activist and as a blogger. She studied modern literature, linguistics, and technology in Canada. She wrote for dissident media such as RéveilTunisien and Tunezine, and worked in the NGO field before co-founding an online media monitoring startup.

To kick off Al Huffington Post Maghreb, we are featuring a range of bloggers. There's the Mediterranean School of Business Dean Mahmoud Triki on the connection between education, Arab prosperity and integration; author, lawyer and artist Hela Ammar on law, morality, and freedom of expression; comedian and playwright Raja Farhat on Tunisia's long road to democracy; and journalist and director of Le Maghreb Emergent Ihsane El Kadi on the state of free expression in Algeria.

So please join us in welcoming Maghreb to the HuffPost family. We hope you'll join the conversation, and as always, use the comments section to let us know what you think.