Gulf bloggers
June 15th, 2006

This AsiaMedia article says “Internet blogs are giving rise to a new breed of Arab activist as ordinary residents increasingly use them to press for more political rights and civil liberties in conservative Gulf states.Typical was a recent posting by a 33-year-old Saudi man.”Are we destined to just listen to the news of all the big changes around the world as we await a good deed from our king?”he questioned in his weblog, or blog.And in one notable case,blogs in Kuwait were used to rally broad support last month for street demonstrations in favour of election law reforms.The bloggers write in Arabic,English or a mixture of both.They are eager to set themselves apart from both newspaper and web columnists writing for established sites as well as the hugely popular Internet bulletin boards that often have a militant Islamic bent.There are now about 1,000 Gulf Arab bloggers,up five times from 2004,according to Haitham Sabbah,a Bahrain-based blogger and Middle East editor for Global Voices,a programme launched last year by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School in the United States that tracks and collects blogs worldwide.Ahmed al-Omran, a 22-year-old Saudi university student who has been blogging for two years under the name “Saudi Jeans”, said his goal was not just to rant but to shed light on issues affecting his generation in the hope that change may come one day.”When I criticise something,my goal is to have it fixed,” Omran, a regular contributor to Global Voices, said in a telephone interview from Riyadh.Saudi Arabia has the Gulf’s biggest blogging community with about 3O0 bloggers,more than half of them women according to Omran. With Saudi’s population of some 23 million it has one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the Arab world”.

Middle East:Gulf bloggers — a new breed of Arab activists

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