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Dead Sea Scrolling

Dead Sea Scrolling

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Dead Sea Scrolling, the report of the 2008 Arab-US Media Forum, explores the impact of new media in spanning the cultural and informational divides between the Arab and American worlds. Leading Arab and American journalists and media entrepreneurs discuss the budding transparency and openness enabled by new media and confront the harmful stereotyping in which both worlds so readily engage.
Dead Sea Scrolling, the report of the 2008 Arab-US Media Forum, explores the impact of new media in spanning the cultural and informational divides between the Arab and American worlds. Leading Arab and American journalists and media entrepreneurs discuss the budding transparency and openness enabled by new media and confront the harmful stereotyping in which both worlds so readily engage.

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Published by: Communications and Society Program on Oct 14, 2010
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Communications and Society Program
Summer 2008
 Aab–U.. Media Foum
Blog World of Maktoob .........................................................2Baghdad Reporting Assignment ...........................................5Virtual Pilgimmage ...............................................................6Egypt's Gen-Facebook ...........................................................9Dialogue participants ...........................................................11Recommendations ..............................................................12
Information Flows: Speaking in Tongues Whle Seeding Social Networking
By Crocker Snow Jr.
he liespan o ne meia as an essential nes source in the U.S. an Araborls respectively can be measure on the ngers o to hans. Ne meiahas ominate or approximately ten years in the Unite States an about hal that in the Arab orl. Little enough time to ra conclusions about the social-izing eects o ne meia, about best an orst practice or even the angers ueto their capacity to oer narro perspectives on the one han or irresponsibleunaccountability on the other.Yet 5–10 years is more than sucient to take revealing exit polls an count theearly returns.
Arab World's New Media Windfall:Sweet for Users, Sour for Governments
By Daoud Kuttab
e meia opportunities have been a gosen to creatures an con-sumers o inormation in the Arab orl. While the traitional meiahas been slo to respon to the opportunities oere by ne meia, othershave not.Te constraints on inormation fos in the Arab region have let a bigent on traitional meia outlets. Most raio an V stations are govern-ment monopolies. Most major nespapers are irectly or inirectly con-trolle by governments or businesspeople ith close associations to rulingregimes. Checks an balances in the orm o inepenent associations or
hen a band of new media types from the United States andthe Arab world gathered at the lowest point of earth—1800feet below sea level on the Jordan side of the Dead Sea—theirdiscourse was sometimes salty and decidedly buoyant.The fth in an ongoing series of Arab–U.S. editors’ dialogues,this one focused exclusively on the impact of new media inspanning the cultural and informational divides betweenthe Arab and American media worlds, and in dissolving theharmful stereotyping in which both worlds so readily engage.Arab-American commentator Rami Khouri makes the point that theinformation war is the only one in which the Arab world, with the ex-plosion of satellite television and its offshoots, has “fought the Ameri-cans to a draw.Draw or not, the dialogue has been joined to foster cooperation, notheighten competition. Entitled “The New Media Environment: Pathsto Understanding,” the 2008 forum focused primarily on state-of-the-art new media and the opportunities for increased understanding andcultural empathy they provide.
Continued on page 4
Continued on page 8
)Umm Faleh, a 90-year old shepherd of Jordan's Azamat tribe, gains literacy through thecomputer as the Arab world broadly embraces new media and fresh social activism.
Dead Sea Scrolling
logging has taken its place as a notable nesan opinion activity in the Arab orl over thelast three years. Tough Arabic blogging is still atan early stage, it is rapily becoming an importantmeium an a public opinion shaper in the region.Many no escribe it as the alternative meia ansee it as a strong uture contener to the mainstreammeia.Maktoob.com launche its blog service in De-cember 2005 ith a core o early aopters, mainly  journalists ho alreay use the Internet.
oday Maktoob Blogs boasts over 100,000 blog-gers and is growing at a ast pace. Beyond numbersalone, our Blogs community now embodies bloggersrom all countries and nationalities. Te subject mat-ter varies as much as the participants, ranging romsimple writings like diaries, cooking, ashion, jokes,caricature, and general writings to specialized writ-ings in dierent scientic, literary, technical, social,economical, and political elds.
Tere is also a notable increase in interactionbeteen bloggers themselves on their blogs as mea-sure by comments, posts an iversity o iscussetopics.
In scanning, searching an surng Maktoob blogs,one can eel the interaction o community interestsin the Arab Mile East. One can, in eect, eel thepulse o the Arab orl.Blogs are succeeing in conveying the citizen’s voice an thoughts, attitues, opinions, reactionsan experiences in all aspects o lie. A major reasonhy is the high level o reeom o expression thatblogs allo.Authorities have been slo to see this an, ac-coringly, slo to crack on on the reeom o expression alloe. Signs that this is changing arebeginning to emerge.Maktoob bloggers come rom eciely ier-ent emographic groups in terms o age, gener aneucational levels. Te very interactivity an com-munity-builing that can be one online an acrossthe vast geographical area o the Arab orl oersa ne imension to bloggers an reaers that is notoere by traitional meia.Te high groth o Maktoob blogs can be attrib-ute variously to the increase in Internet penetra-tion in the Arab orl as ell as rising aareness o the importance o communication an reeom o speech. Te attention o the Arab street an Arabicpublic opinion to public aairs ue to the currentpolitical situations in the region, particularly in Iraq,Iran an Israel, is also essential. Te eect o theseongoing political crises on the Arab iniviual’s ai-ly lie has also brought blogging as a prime tool o communications to the ore.
By Samih Toukan
Yemeni government respone to an outcry o pro-test rom bloggers an supporters o reeom o thought an speech by unblocking the ebsite a-ter a e ays, but the Syrians hel ast ith theirblocking or eeks on en.
As a service provider, Maktoob is stuck in the mid-dle. We encourage reedom o speech and ree fowso inormation. At the same time, we need to protectthe service and the bloggers rom being blocked. Tisis an occupational hazard o our business.
Despite the blocking an the attempt by govern-ments to censor the Internet in general an blogs inparticular—as they ere accustome to ith trai-tional meia—it is unlikely that the sprea o thismeium can be eectively arreste.Te trens are clear in our part o the orlas much as elsehere. Te Internet an its ever-changing applications are a key part o the presentan, no oubt, o the uture. It can be a central toolin encouraging an enabling the emocratization o Arab societies.
amih oukan coounded  Maktoob.com in 1998. Withdegees om London and Pais,he peviously woked  o ndesen Consulting, Jodan.
Te success o a core o ell-knon journalistsho publishe ritings an vies let untoucheby traitional meia has urther het the public ap-petite an contributes to increasing the number o bloggers an reaers ay by ay.Te most important characteristics o blogs arereeom an absence o censorship. Yet these very traits are, ironically, the most important icultiesthat e at Maktoob ace.Te concept o accepting other people’s opin-ions is ne to Arab societies, causing some bloggersto push to ban blogs that raise controversial politi-cal, religious or social issues hich ier rom theiron belies an loyalties.As blogs sprea, bloggers are learning to be-come more emocratic an to absorb, i not accept,another’s perspective.Unortunately hoever, some blog-gers in the Mile East have taken tomisusing their reeoms. aking avan-tage o the absence o censorship, they utilize their blogs, online chat roomsan anity groups to promote illegalor unethical topics or encourage terror-ism. Tis has given rise to a ne ormo blog community-monitoring le by other bloggers ho survey the electron-ic trac an take spontaneous steps toeectively police hat they vie to beillegal or irresponsible postings.Hoever, the most serious issueacing the blogging revolution in theArab Worl toay is not the irrespon-sibility o bloggers but unnecessary anunneee blocking an censoring o blogs by some governments. Tis is notan uncommon occurrence as Arab gov-ernments react in traitional ays tohat they see as nontraitional trans-parency-base threats.Maktoob blogs, or example, havebeen blocke in Yemen an Syria. Te
Maktoob’s most inuential bloggers :
Blogger Name Blog's URL
 
Dead Sea Scrolling
From zero to largestand most protable Arabic portal inthis millennium
Arab Advisors Group (www.arabadvisors.com)
 Arab World Internet Applications
Internet Accounts (in thousands
Saudi Arabia
Total by Year473.7951,132.2052,390.7013,849.7535,586.926
Popular and News-Driven Arab Blogs and Aggregators
Forum participants nominated the most popular and inuential blogs and content aggregators on and aboutthe Arab world today. Those named:
 A Mother  from Gaza
. Diary of Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinianjournalist and mother who divides her time betweenGaza and Durham, North Carolina.
The Angry Arab.
Thisblog by Prof. Ass’ad Abu Khalil is edgy and though itis California based it is also popular in the Arab World,especially in Lebanon.
The Arabist
is centered on Egyptbut also covers other areas of the Arab world, notablythe Levant and the Maghreb. While focused onpolitical issues, it also highlights important culturaltrends in the Arab world.
In English
Baheyya: Egypt Analysisand Whimsy
. Commentary on Egyptian politics andculture by an Egyptian woman who blogs under thename Baheyya. The blog has been described as quietlyintrospective without any of the usual chest-beatingand hair tugging.
In English
The Lands of Sands,
written by a blogger purportedly from Al-Ain inthe United Arab Emirates. This blog has been blockedin most Gulf countries due to its criticism of religionsin general and Islam in particular as well as criticizingnorms and traditions.
In Arabic 
http://creativesyria.com/syrianbloggers/—CreativeSyria’s open forum for Syria bloggers and experts.
The Electronic Intifada
. U.S.-based Palestinian journalist AliAbunimah maintains this blog of news and opinion onPalestine and the Middle East.
In English
Kafr al-Hanadwa
,literally the “Village of the Indians” or “Village of Fools/Simpletons” refers to a popular satirical weekly cartoonin the Egyptian newspaper
 Akhbar al-Youm
. Topics of interest include religion, politics, media and popularculture, and food.
In English
Sahat Al-Safat
.AKuwaiti site somewhere between a traditional blog,electronic journalism and news website. The “We WantIt 5” movement was started and maintained from thissite—the movement has been instrumental in gettingthe Kuwaiti electoral law changed from about 25 or40 districts to 5. The result is less sectarianism andtribalism controlling Kuwaiti elections.
In Arabic 
http://mahmood.tv/—Mahmood’s Den, by Bahrainibusinessman Mahmood Al-Yousif, includes news andcommentary on the Bahraini government, local andworld politics, religion and society, as well as glimpsesof his daily life and interests.
In English
http://misrdigital.blogspirit.com/—Egyptian WaelAbbas’ award-winning blog; content is heavy withpictures and cartoons.
In Arabic 
Rafah Today
. A blog about daily life in thePalestinian city of Rafah, by Mohammed Omer. Omeris the recipient of the 2008 Martha Gelhorn Prizefor Journalism from the British Academy of Film andTelevision Arts.
Sabbah Blog 
. Written by HaithamSabbah, a Palestinian activist with a large following,this blog ranks 17,948 and has an authority of 257 onTechnorati. (Technorati Authority is the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months. Thehigher the number, the more Technorati Authority theblog has.)
In English
http://saudijeans.org/—Ahmed Al-Omran (aka theSaudi Blogfather) is also inuential in Saudi. Hetranscends traditional sectarian divides in that countryand is an active electronic campaigner who has keptthe world informed of the happenings in his countryand the recent detention and release of fellow Saudiblogger Fouad Al-Farhan.
In English
 http://wa7damasrya.blogspot.com/—Written by aCairo-based female blogger.
In Arabic 
http://www.2by4.org/—written by Bader Alfraih,Kuwaiti blogger of note who is also responsible for theinitiation of physical bloggers meetings in Kuwait andthe creation of Kuwaiti blog aggregatorwww.kuwaitblogs.com.
In English
is one of the oldest blogs in the Arab world,it has gained quite a following both from within andwithout Kuwait. The gentleman behind it goes by thepseudonym “Zaydoun.”
In Arabic 
Manal and Alaa’s bit bucket
.Their greatest contribution is that they are such a goodforum.
In Arabic with some English postings
http://www.monaeltahawy.com/blog/—Mona Eltahawyis an award-winning New York-based journalist andcommentator on Arab and Muslim issues.
In English
http://www.albawaba.com/—Jordan-based Arab newsand blog aggregator. (English)http://www.arabcrunch.com
is one of the rst Arabian originated blogs dedicated to prolingand reviewing Arab-originated startups and existingInternet and mobile companies, their products andtheir services.
English, with Arabic site planned 
http://bahrainblogs.org/—aggregator of blogs fromBahrain. (Arabic and English)http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/—non-protglobal citizens’ media project that presents the mostinuential or respected and credible bloggers orpodcasters in any given country. (English)http://www.ikhwanweb.com/– the MuslimBrotherhood ofcial English language website.(English)http://www.islamonline.net/– broad source of news,information on daily life and religion, family, art andculture, discussion forums. (Arabic and English)http://itoot.net/—pan-Arab blog aggregator thatsamples diverse array of blogs and shares the mostinteresting ideas, posts and conversations of the day.(Arabic and English)http://www.jeeran.com/—Jordan based (English)http://www.kuwaitblogs.com/—Kuwaiti blogaggregator (English)http://www.omraneya.net/—Egyptian blog aggregator(Arabic and English)http://uaecommunity.blogspot.com/—blog forumuniting webloggers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).(English)
Work39.8Work23.3Study52.2Study19.3Contacting my friends/ family62.3Contacting my friends/ family77.6Knowledge/ information46.6Knowledge/ information48.9General interests49.6General interests13.5
Saudi ArabiaUAE
Audio and video streaming28.0Audio and video streaming45.2Collecting information and research66.2Collecting information and research80.6Chatting38.5Chatting63.6Downloading les73.4E-mails100.0Social websites72.0Downloading les77.3To play online games23.4Social websites46.5Sports news27.7To play online games25.4News49.3Sports news29.3Others11.2News70.6Others2.0

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