Back in April 2004, when the air in Tunisia was thick with the tension of censorship, Nawaat began its journey. It was more than just a platform; it was a lifeline for Tunisians seeking a place to voice their dissent, to connect, and to debate the critical issues of the time. From its early days as a gathering online forum for those resisting silence, Nawaat evolved into a community blog, a digital rallying point for activists far and wide. Our early collaboration with WikiLeaks, launching Tunileaks just as the old regime was starting to crumble, was a pivotal moment, spreading vital information during a time of upheaval.

The revolution brought change for everyone, Nawaat included. We transitioned from an online collective to a more structured organization, setting up an office and bringing together a diverse team of passionate individuals—activists, bloggers, journalists—who have all left their mark on Nawaat. This period was about growth, learning, and shaping the voices that would continue to challenge, inform, and inspire.

Our journey has been marked by innovation at every turn. From drafting our editorial charter to laying out our strategic plan in launching our Print Magazine, our media incubator program (Innawaation) and our yearly Festival, we’ve always looked for ways to reinvent ourselves in order to remain relevant to our mission and core values. Even when times got tough, when we faced internal challenges or felt the pressure from our community of supporters, we never lost sight of who we are and what we stand for.

We’ve evolved, technologically too, from rudimentary HTML web pages to a robust and comprehensive digital infrastructure. Today, we’re taking a bold step into the future with the introduction of our first experimental search feature powered by Nawaat’s generative artificial intelligence, courtesy of the tireless efforts of our web architect and tech lead, Houssem Hajlaoui. This AI, built using open-source LLMs and tools, is the beginning of a larger strategy to not only improve user experience by offering better access to Nawaat’s extensive 20-year archive but also to support our editorial team with AI tools designed to speed up processes, unearth valuable insights, and enhance data visualization. The dream of conducting semantic analysis of our archive has always been a cherished aspiration, and now, it has been facilitated by the advent of generative AI, Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG), and the LLMs we are currently utilizing. Rest assured, this technology will never replace the human touch in our journalism; it’s here to bolster our team, helping them to continue delivering the impactful stories you’ve come to expect from Nawaat.

Like all AI features, our AI search assistant may occasionally hallucinate, make mistakes, provide incorrect answers, or list unrelated articles and results due to the inherent limitations of machine learning. This is part of an iterative process, especially considering that we have initially fed the LLMs’ knowledge base with only 5 10 years of Nawaat’s archives (2014-2024); however, the feature will improve as we continue to refine the system prompts and incorporate more years of data into the core knowledge base.

At this significant milestone, we want to extend our deepest gratitude. To the hundreds of contributors, bloggers, activists, researchers, opposition figures, representatives of civil society organizations, techies, and all who have written for or supported Nawaat in countless ways over the years, we owe a debt of gratitude. Your voices and your support have been the lifeblood of Nawaat. To all our former and current team members—co-founders, managers, journalists, editors-in-chief, technologists, designers, video producers—your efforts have shaped Nawaat into what it is today. Your dedication, your talent, and your belief in the power of free speech have made all the difference.

As we celebrate 20 years, we look back with pride and forward with hope. Nawaat’s journey from a digital platform for activism to a pillar of independent journalism in Tunisia and beyond is a powerful reminder of resilience and rebirth. Here’s to continuing the fight for a more informed, engaged, and free Tunisia.

Thank you all for being a part of this incredible journey.