Have you noticed that blogs in each country in the Gulf have a collective theme or trend? I have and I would like to hear your thoughts on this as well. The excellent The Muscatis blog has written about this phenomenon over a year ago, and now a fellow Omani blog, Wardat Al-Khaleej has amplified on the issue.
Here’s my take:
In Kuwait they are sarcastic and rip their government and parliament every day, but quite a number of the blogs (I’d say the majority) are more concerned with daily lives and relationships.
Qatar needs many more bloggers, I have no idea what’s going on in that scene.
Saudi is trepeditiously testing the waters and the bloggers there are probably the most corageous in the Gulf because if they are found out or fingered, we won’t hear from them again, regardless of the number of petitions and human rights reports. They’ll be gone. So not one of them writes using his/her real identity. However blogs like The Religious Policeman is a *must read* and is one of my personal favourites as it gives you an educated insight into what actually happens in that country and its author does not pull punches when he wants to express his opinion, but he always does so with civility, good manners and a huge measure of sarcasm that hits the point much more thoroughly than cursing at 1,000 words a minute. The other and the pioneer in Saudi blogging of course is non other than Saudi Jeans who is young and frustrated by what he sees as inequities in his Saudi society. He tends to concentrate however on technical issues and is the glue that binds the Saudi blogger community together. Without his efforts, the Saudi bloggers scene would be vastly different.
The Emirates is more of an expat scene with continuous bitching on how bad life is in the Emirates and how brain-dead Aeraabs are as well as how smelly and uncouth Indians and Pakis are and how oh how mundane and boooaring this expat life is and how they want permaent membership in the “clooob” and have to live in lurvly Jumaira beach area. There are a few more blogs written by locals, but I fail to find a trend really. They are all over the spectrum but seem to be united in their feeling of superiority.
Oman’s blogs are peaceful and human and personal and lovely and cuddly! Hardly a controversy but the mundane day-to-day existence and experiences. I read Omani blogs if I want to believe that everything in the world is hunky-dory and relax.
Bahraini blogs on the other hand do have a trend, and that trend is local politics. For a country that is as small as Bahrain, one would wonder why the hell are we even concerned with politics? Maybe because of the have/have not divide? Maybe because of the lethargy of the government, maybe because of perceived wrongs suffered by the people, and maybe because of the interference of fools and middle management who have made it their life’s work to make everyone else’s as uncomfortable as possible?
In any case for our troubles we have had 40 sites permanently blocked recently (they’re pinning this on the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority this time rather than the usual Ministry of (dis)Information which is the usual (and will continue to be) the bogey-man of restriction of speech) and more blockages are in the offing.
And I thought that we had that thing called the Freedom to Speak which presumably was guaranteed by the constitution?