Thursday, December 01, 2005

reBlog: Blog Disparity

Wardat Al Khaleeej writes about the disparity she feels between Omani blogs and the other gulf bloggers that she reads. She says that:
While Omani bloggers maintain a common norm of posting things in general with a reflection towards the country, their daily activities, music or news other bloggers are more daring and venture to discuss issues which we could not conceive of placing on our blogs.
It's a topic I've written about before but it's worth bringing up ahead of the Omani Blog Awards which are coming up. A reporter from TheWeek is working on a story about the awards. I'll write about that more when the story comes out depending on how much of what I said appears in the article. The most relevent question that she asked me was:

Do you think that there’s an adequate sense of community and responsibility between bloggers in Oman? As in, are issues and causes taken up through blogs? Do you ever meet up with other bloggers?

I don't know of any Omani bloggers meet ups, do you? Regardless of whether we know each other or not. Do you feel that there's a sense of community in the Omani blogosphere? At the very least are there any issues which we've taken up together? I honestly couldn't think of any.

Anyhow, read Warda's full post and reply there if you have anything to add about the disparity. Please reply here if you have comments on the question above.


Mahmood has an excellent post on the same topic. A taste:

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. [link]


illogicist said...

Ill read Warda's post later today, just want to say that honestly I dont feel the need for any 'blogger community' or something that needs to 'hold us together'. I dont see myself as part of a blogger community, but an individual blogger who blogs about issues that interest me, thats it really. Oman, UK, whatever, I dont see it as particularly important. This is the internet, after all.

PizzaQueen said...

Weird, cannot post on her blog.
We always complain about government censorship but here we are talking about imposed self censorship which seems to be natural and that is the most dangerous.

Sleepless In Muscat said...

to be honest, i try to keep my 'daring' opinions to myself, with what's been happening of bloggers being arrested and/or harrased the world over for voicing the truth as they see it how would i know if i were any safer here in Oman?

i'll take no chances - thank you

Kazablanka said...

Well, do we actually have the right to talk freely? I dont think so. Everything must stay hush hush...


*head chopped off*

Samyah said...

Forget about 'daring opinions' what about just opinions in general? The govt isn't going to throw you in jail for blogging global issues and stating your opinion. Or even for talking about normal day things, but in a deeper sense.

I'm not telling people how to blog, wouldn't dream of it, but it would be nice to have the occasional good read from an Omani blogger other than Muscati & OD (and a few others).

NiGhTFaCe said...

I agree with Z, blogging doesnt have to be under a specific community or group of people!

x~nezitiC said...

I wrote something in response to your post in my blog...Muscati, you might want to read it...

Puntlander said...

I have been following your blog on/off for a while and found it to be delightful, and at times boring! I am sure that many of you practice a self-censorship- a notorious practice in the Middle East but wouldn't it be helpful to adventure into the real world of free expressions once in a while. If you don't dare, who will? At least, they (mukhabrat) don't know your home's or office adress (big assumption.)

PizzaQueen said...

They can know ...

Kazablanka said...

Your comment in Warda's blog:

When the Bahraini bloggers got arrested and other bloggers and human rights activists demonstrated to demand their release it got me thinking. If I were to get arrested, who's gonna stick their neck out to speak out for me? Will anyone risk anything for me, or will people think "see what happened to him, better distance ourselves from all that"?

From what I know, our fellow neighbour bloggers occasionaly have meet ups and actually know each other in person... and that all creates some kind of connection and community. They discuss the same matters, support each other, etc.

They would stand up for each other cuz they know that if one goes down, the rest will follow.

.. and thats what we lack!

omani bloggers, I see nothing in common between our blogs other than the links we have on the side bar which have links to other fellow bloggers.

muscati said...

Kaza - The one main positive thing here is that 1) there are Omani bloggers, 2) the percentage of the ones who start blogs and stick with them is large, and 3) the number of blogs is growing (slowly but steadily). Which is more than we can say about other neighboring countries like the UAE and Qatar. It's a good start.

Sree said...

Aren't most of these bloggers that form the Omani-blogsphere from EnglishSabla or OmanForum anyways?

I agree with Z otherwise; write about whatever you feel connected or moved by and don't force yourself to write about Oman and Omanis. Rant about them if you feel the need for it, don't put your neck on the line because you get massive hits on your blog. Do it if it you feel the need for it. =)

Sowhat said...

well sorry didnt read others comment so i dont know if they share the same idea with me or not .. well doesnt it show the real personality of omanies ? i mean omanies are not into politics !!!! am i generalizing !! YES I DO !!! i mean blogsphere maybe is not the ideal representation of omani society since most of the omani bloggers ( or at least that what i belive ) came from the same socioeconomic level but hey i live in oman for 7 years now know alot of guys from all the diffrent willayat .. educated , highly educated no matter of what omanies dont talk real politics they are just un-interested .. un like kuwaities .. when i go out with freinds there most of our alk i about the internal politics go gonna rule kuwait after our presedent who onna do that and this ..

regardign the other stuff and being free to express your feeling .. as i said before most o the bloggers came from the same place .. many of them are exposed and welll knwon to others .. how can some one talks freely f he / she knows that every body knows her/him and know her / his family especially in conservative society like Oman .. sorry it is not about bloggers .. it is about Oman ..

illogicist said...

I think once again the problem is not maintaining absolute anonymity.

muscati said...

Why is anonymity such a problem? I can understand the need to be anonymous if what you write could get you in trouble.

Although I use a nickname I haven't been anonymous in years. I have to balance my lack of anonymity with everything that I write. I have a relatively high profile job and I know that some of my bosses at work occasionally read what I write. A lot of my friends read this blog. Heck even my father reads it sometimes. Does it sometimes dull what I write? Definitely but I still try. Like I said, it's a balancing job, but it's an easily achieved balance.

TI3GIB said...

Response on topic in my blog :


Arabian Princess said...

Muscati, do you want blog to turn to another arabic sabla??
no thank you, I'd rather have them like they are today!!

We have problems, no one in thier right mind would say something other than that .. but because no one speaks in thier blogs doesnt mean we are surpessed, I really doubt that because we have quite loud voices around .. one of them is you, were you ever been arrested or questioned for giving out your opinions which many times is aginst whatever the government do in Oman??

I agree with Z, beside the awards I dont really see why do we need to have a community. First, most of us know each other .. secondly, the more people know each other, the more we wouldnt dare to talk openly about my personal feelings.

Anyway, blogs were not made to talk about politics or whats wrong in a person country .. they are personal spaces and I wish they remain to be like this.

illogicist said...

You're right Muscati, its an achievable balance, but for some its not so achievable. We're all different, and some prefer not to disclose information about themselves or have others know that they have potentially strong views. So they straddle the middle line which is fairly safe. Anonymity puts everyone on a level playing field where blogs - and bloggers - are judged strictly on content (and perhaps blog design, but nevermind that) rather than personality, connections, etc.

muscati said...

some prefer not to disclose information about themselves or have others know that they have potentially strong views

But what's the use of having a strong view about something and keeping it to yourself? If you think one thing and project another, then that's a little hypocritical, isn't it. (I'm not talking about you personally because from reading what you write I know you're not like that.)

PizzaQueen said...

For some, giving voice to their personal space means also to give voice to their world, the way the person is related to the country, to the politics also.
Our personal space is made by many aspects, is a personal choice which one to give more importance to, in a blog.
I think Sowhat has a point: the Omani citizen is not really interested in politics.

illogicist said...

Well Muscati I do have strong views about stuff, stronger views than I often blog about, so I guess it may apply to me to some extent, but I think it'll apply to most of us. I guess it just depends how seriously you take blogging.

I agree with what u said PQ, even about the omanis not being political thing. I wonder why that is, seeing that arabs in general seem to have politics in their blood. Maybe because Oman isnt politically turbulent, and hasn't been for quite a while (if ever), whereas other countries in the arab world are a lot more so. It seems omanis are only interested in politics on a micro level, within the family :p (and everyone else's family too!)

muscati said...

- omanies dont talk real politics they are just un-interested

- the Omani citizen is not really interested in politics.

- omanis are only interested in politics on a micro level

For real? Is this the same Oman that I live in?

My experience is that Omanis are just interested as all other people. All men's gatherings quickly turn into political discussions. The only difference is that Omani's politics on a local level are usually uninformed due to the lack of an active press. When Omanis bitch about the government they generally direct their rants at the government as if it was one single collective entity that's responsible for their woes. They aren't educated about the workings of the Omani government and hence they don't know how to take it further from there.

Due to the lack of transparency from the government and the absolute and total lack of anything resembling a free press, people tend to hear a lot of gossip about the government and they spread it around quickly. For example during the recent national day celebrations I heard all sorts of gossip about how much the government had spent on the various parades and celebrations and how much the Sultan has given as gifts to the ministers. Since people have no avenue to find out if anythign they hear is really true they just get frustrated with everything they hear. It's politics all right, it just ain't the sophisticated kind.

I think the discussion on this topic here so far has shown a real divide between the age groups. I speak for a generation older than the one that's dominating the Omani blogging scene, and it shows quite clearly. If we add in the socioeconomic demographic aspect it becomes even clearer. Fact is, let's face it, most of us Omani bloggers, particulary the ones blogging in English, are much better off financially than the average Omani.

illogicist said...

I did want to mention that I do notice that the 'older generation' shall we say (not sure if that includes you Muscati - I'm talking my dads generation here - 40+) and the younger gen (under 25ish) are very different when it comes to how 'political' they are. Cut a long post short, it seems the younger gen are a lot less political, except when it comes to issues like Iraq, Palestine, and even their their politics seems based more on anger and frustration than anything else.

Sowhat said...

hi again .. when i said Omanies dont talk real politics i really belived in that .. am talkign in general here not about particular willaya in oman but in general they dont talk real politics !! they qoute from Jazeera just as if they are quoting from Quran , they love Bin ladin cause he is Hero .. and alot find Sudam is areal man cause he is the only one against America .. BASED IN WHAT !! based in nothing other that emotion !!!..that when they talk bout the out side politis when they start ranting about inerior stuff .. they will start gossibing how much that person recieved from the Sultan what that person have done in Spain ... the oil price is increasing , we want a raise ..and maybe they will bring some racist issue ba3ad .. sorry but do you call this plitics ? i dont ..

it is one of two .. either omanies are not politically educated .. and that would be explained by the lack of true news paper, column writers here in Oman ..

or they are afraid to talk ... i dont know walla but what am sure is .. unless you got better journals wo better writers in you country .. ppl will contiue to bleive in Rumours wo belive whatever others say even if it is stupid ..

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