14 April, 2008

When the community is backward..

Internet censorship is always a big deal for bloggers (writers and readers), let alone the average Internet user. For the most part, it is often the government dictating rules that residents/stake-holders don't want. In the case of Internet censorship, it appears to be a case of the citizens demanding more of.

Alexander McNabb (whose opinions I rarely agree with) wrote a piece that I wholeheartedly endorse. The problem is that it isn't the government and regulators at fault here. It is the minority of the population we call 'locals'/'citizens'.

This reminds me of when I was in college (US) and wanted to start an Arab students' group. We got together and started filing the necessary paperwork, gathered the students together and got endorsed by several faculty members. The effort was spearheaded by a friend of mine (political scientist) and myself. My friend's only fault is that she was a she. This didn't go too well with the 'community' we wanted to help and be a part of. The whole thing went out the window after the members of the community decided that it was insulting to have a woman run as president.

secretdubai talks about a "village green" mentality when it comes to media censorship and blames government officials for it. I think it is far worse than that. It is the people who don't seem to know what's good for them.

I have come to the conclusion that you can't help those who don't want to be helped. However, we should clearly identify who is responsible for the current state of access to information. In this case, it is the community that is backward. The situation is beyond help.


halfmanhalfbeer said...

DE: I am baffled, what possible purpose, apart from being outstandingly rude, does this phrase serve:

Alexander McNabb (whom I don't necessarily think much of)


Dubai Entrepreneur said...

I had another look at it and it did read poorly. I rewrote the phrase, as it honestly wasn't my intention.

Anonymous said...

Dubai Entrepreneur said: The problem is that it isn't the government and regulators at fault here. It is the minority of the population we call 'locals'/'citizens'.

The so called locals/citizens didn't like the idea of Salik either, did they decide to demolish the toll gates ??? do you even know who gives the orders ?

What happened to Dr. Mohd AlRukn when he spoke in public regarding human rights etc... ?

I hope you get my drift.

halfmanhalfbeer said...

DE, not thinking much of someone and not agreeing with someone's opinions are two very different matters.

If it was not your intention to be rude then I suggest you edit your post.


i*maginate said...

agree with halfmanhalfbeer though I understood there was no ill-intent in the first place ;-)

McNabb is a cool dude!

Dubai Entrepreneur said...

anon @14 April, 2008 15:14

No, I don't think the two are the same thing. There are many things that citizens don't like, but governments go ahead with anyway (this happens in democratic republics as well).

In this case, the citizens are demanding that their regulators place restrictions on their access to information.

There is nothing that a government likes more than its citizens demanding that they place more control over what they can do and cannot do!

Proud Emirati said...

oh so Dubai Entrepreneur is one of the so called modern liberal Arabs? that make sense !!

It must be a nightmare for u all to live in this backward society, pity you :D

Proud Emirati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Proud Emirati said...

better move from this nightmare as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

Alexander McNabb & SD in one post? McNabb is that same wiki Voltaire dude that wrote ‘Internet Censorship is bad’, the one who also told SD to give up blogging. The last I read, he got creamed badly on Aqoul. Is this hypocrite still around?

Dubai Entrepreneur said...

proud emirati,

I would like to think of myself as a pragmatic realist, though I do tend to lean towards being a libertarian. I in fact feel sorry for the UAE, as it struggles to become something it doesn't quite understand. Don't get me wrong, it has a lot going for it.. but for the most part, I am glad I am not a citizen. There is very little for me as a citizen to be proud of. I couldn't say that I created, built or did anything really. For example, the Chinese are building their new airport for the Olympics. They can claim it as their own. What monument in Dubai or the UAE can be claimed as Emirati? Yeah.. that's what I thought. That's really sad.

You have leaders (Dubai specifically) who are well ahead of the population, but political decisions are hardly a simple matter of a decree as it may seem. There are lots of variables involved in every decision. I doubt (and hope not) that Sheikh Mohammed is endorsing the TRA's draconian censorship measures.. but I suppose he is picking his battles.

halfmanhalfbeer/mcnabb: it has been edited immediately after you pointed out. You don't have to get overly sensitive about it. If Clinton can get away with talking about snipers, I can't get away with a badly put together phrase while replying back to client emails? Bah!

Proud Emirati said...

I have to point out that linking backwardness with the demand of censorship is backward too. Just because someone believe that progress is attached with non-censorship doesn't make it a fact. It is a mere an opinion, ur opinion.

This is a yet another form of ur imperialism where someone think that his/her view is superior because it worked with him.

I have many things to be proud of. I do believe that the UAE has progressed through the last 30 years, as a people and a country, more than any other nation. I do believe that we have the most talented and enlightened people capita wise comparing to other nations taking in consideration that our people used to live in tents 40 years ago.

Yea, I am proud

Proud Emirati said...

I want to point also that those kinds of topics make me even more convinced about such decisions. Not because they are right because it irretate you.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

RE: when the community is backward;

Dubai entrepreneur:
While I agree that it is unfortunate that websites are being blocked because of their controversial content. I kind of do not mind the blockage of porno sites and the kindred kind of websites. And I do differentiate between the two.

Even though the local people here (or the citizens as you call them) are minority; they are the owners of the land. And when it is hard to agree on a consensus for which site to be blocked. I think it’s for the best of this country’s present time and future that their word prevails. Can you imagine being alienated in your own country? You might argue that they themselves are alienating themselves by confining themselves within the shell of ‘moral guidelines’; however, I think this whole line of thought is subjective and irrelevant. Yes. The locals are being protective. They are cautious about this crazy drive toward the unknown. Change is not comfortable trend for any nation. I know there are some people in this forum who like to mock the local UAE identity and culture. Ironically, those very people are very protective and very edgy when it comes to demographic changes in their own homelands….

On the other hand; I disagree with locking website that have critical or controversial content. This is becoming a chronic shortcoming in the current Arab mentality and you may agree with me that people are not accustomed to disputing and opposing opinions. We take differing in opinion as a sign of enmity. But I must say that the UAE is still leaps ahead of its Arab neighbors in this regard. There isn’t, for example, a similar forum for expats in Saudi. You see. Things have to be looked at in context.

Having said all that, I believe the UAE is on the right track if it keeps empowering its own citizens to be in charge of their lives, while at the same time encouraging them to make enlightened and open-minded decisions.

Let it be slow and decisive, rather than rash and uncontrollable.

Dubai Entrepreneur said...

dubai jazz,

I cannot imagine being alienated in my own country. It must be very frustrating. I would be just as upset as PE is right now :)

I don't think you should differentiate between 'controversial content' and 'pornography'. I think the solution to this is fairly simple: make those who want porn filters at the ISP level pay more. It should be a service, since it has such a demand. Then again, that is what I would do in an ideal world.

I know it seems that I am being harsh on them, but I am not trying to. It's very difficult to balance things when you have just won the lottery. Do you go on a spending spree? Do you buy a jet? Do you tour the world? Do you build the tallest building in the world? Yeah, 40 years ago they lived in tents and then they hit the jackpot. It's not like the Japanese who built their country from nothing and then again after utter destruction. They simply hit the jackpot.

But it's not easy, I'm sure. This is what happens when things happen real fast. There comes a disconnect between the material world and the mentalities. Mentalities don't change as quickly as the terrain. You can't throw money at it. Mentalities change very slowly.

Proud Emirati said...

^^ ur ideal world, in ur world, ur place. Not this world, our world, our UAE.

Well said dubai jazz.

rosh said...

"Mentalities don't change as quickly as the terrain"

PE: please don't be upset, most of what DE said in his last comment is true.

There is only one world. It's gotten smaller, given globalization. I do feel for you, it's not easy at times being where you are - and where the nation, already IS.

Most folks debating here aren't doing so with ill intent, in fact the opposite. I think everybody wants this place to succeed and continue so. Me too, sitting across on the other side of the planet.

Chin up habib.

Keefieboy said...

It might surprise some of you to know that Spain has a porn filter. It's called canguro.net (Spanish for kangaroo). That doesn't bother me, because the rest of the net is uncensored. What's bothering me about this discussion is the (sadly under-represented) Emirati viewpoint. PE saying that the locals like it this way. OK, maybe you have to say that, but it's very, very hard for non-emiratis who have experienced life in freer societies to accept/believe that a restricted worldview and accompanying lack of freedom can somehow be 'better'. Impossible, in fact.

How can you stand up and say 'I prefer not to have freedom'?

Proud Emirati said...

^^ I I'be naive if I believe that u'd disagree with what he say !!

rosh said...

Dude, please don't put words in my mouth.....I clearly did say "most" from his last comment is true.

Fact is you agree with them as well - we debated on them a few posts below? You know what, I feel terrible - you are the only local here and everyone is giving you their view points....it's not gelling. Am sorry for any discomfort caused. I've had enough debate for a day.

Proud Emirati said...

^^ that was for Rosh

Keefieboy, let me make it clear. I don't support censorship against any religious, political or cultural websites but I do support censoring porn. Now, if dubai entrepreneur is too desperate for that I'll be glad to give him a proxy, for free :P

I don't deny that many Emiratis even support censoring political, religious and cultural websites. You can see from my blog that am not where toward censorship but fact is that am now glad about it as long as it upset them.

Beside I don't think that non-Emiratis would have difficulties. First, they should expect what was coming in the UAE. I mean I cannot complain about the fact that Arabic is not spoken in the US if I was there for example. So they shouldn't complain about a reality in the UAE. Reality here is that web is censored, full stop. Second, most of the UAE residents are not from any of the so called free world so it isn't really a big deal.

Proud Emirati said...

rosh I apologize then.

rosh said...

PE: do you have an email id? If so, may I have it please? Feel free to mail me if you wish - thanks.

Keefieboy said...

A point that needs to be clarified here is that up until now, the internet in Internet City and Media City has been uncensored, and companies have been attracted there by that fact (plus 100% ownership, of course). I cannot stress this highly enough: without uncensored internet access, DIC/DMC would have struggled to get any clients. Now those clients feel betrayed.

Proud Emirati said...

^^ yea, I think the DMC and DIC shouldn't be censored.

R said...

My contribution:

As expats we should tolerate and try to understand the culture and moral of our host country more.

As PE rightly said, 40 years ago people here lived in tents. They have come a long way since then. Imagine 40 years, that's just one generation. There is a lot to be proud of.

Europe or the US or Japan built there wealth on knowledge, engineering and agriculture over generations. But just think about the oh-so-free United States 50 years ago....

1957/1958 was the year when black US citizens were allowed to go to the same school as white US citizens. And they could use the same bus seats. Think about that!

I guess lots of thinks just happen slowly. A country that is used to be ruled by a non elected ruler for all of the time can't just transform into a democracy over night. I am sure it will eventually someday but it is a slow process and I hope the mistakes of other countries like civil war or unrest will never be experienced here.

Give the UAE some time, once the last oil runs out the UAE society will be open minded and will practise what the arab world is known for. Heartfelt hospitality.

However, the host makes the rules and if the current pace is maybe too fast for the majority of the Emiratis, then the government has to do some steps backwards to move forward in the long run.

So long,

19thfloordubai said...

you can buy booze, place a bet, go on a different date every night of the week. why can't you arrange this from the privacy of your home, via the internet?

i*maginate said...

*19thfloordubai - I read that article too. I think it captures brilliantly all the relevant points related to du's latest escapade.

Proud Emirati said...

I just want to say that those kind of topics doesn't bother me.

I am well exposed to those mentalities so I know where they are coming from !!

Anonymous said...

Restricting clothing, public displays of affection, certain actions not in line with cultural beliefs of the local people (giving the bird, cursing, etc) are all a given and I think appropriate. We are, after all, in THEIR country.

Restricting the /information/ I have access to in the privacy of my own home?

..... Right. Okay, so this place clearly has some more growing to do. It's the global information age, you can not stop it. Harder you grasp, the quicker it slips through your fingers. Good luck!

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