She's done it again: Arab News' remarkable first lady of technology, Molouk Ba Issa, has once again filed a piece that is remarkably frank - particularly given the media environment in which she operates.
Sadly, this week she's documenting the parlous state of Internet Cafés in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. As someone who has been following the Saudi Arabian ICT market on and off for something like 20 years (admittedly more off than on in recent years), I find it depressing reading. The Internet is a resource that many of us have come to see as critical and which we use extensively and thoughtlessley. Yet it is a resource that is apparently being effectively denied to people for no apparent technical or financial reason.
This next bit will delight colleagues used to my "I can remember when we had 8 inch floppy disks!" outbursts. Not.
During the first rush to the 'net, slightly late in the Middle East and taking place around the late 1990's, I found myself working with companies like Microsoft, Cisco and Intel to effectively 'evangelise' the new technology to an often very suspicious Middle East media.
I can't count the number of times we had the argument back then about the potential and likely benefits of Internet technologies compared to the possible downsides for the Arab World. The arguments were long, emotional and sometimes frustrating, a push and pull affair where the respect for tradition and strong moral values were sometimes visibly in conflict with the desire to succeed and move ahead.
Do try and take a look at Molouk's piece. Is this truly what happens when that argument is lost?