Thursday, 26 May 2011

The UAE TRA: More Front Than Brighton

The UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, or TRA, has called for increased use of social media services. The most immediate result of this announcement was me spitting tea out all over my long-suffering (and terminally ill) notebook.

The story, carried by Gulf News today as a 'Gulf News Report' rather than, more truthfully, a subbed WAM file, is linked here. It really is a quite remarkable display of doublespeak.

"The emergence of social media has opened gateways of communication with the rest of the world," said Mr. Al Ghanim. "It is always a good idea for a company to use social media to connect with communities they serve because it improves media coverage. In addition, social media encourages user participation, openness, conversation, connectedness and a sense of community."

Go to from the UAE and you'll find it is blocked. Yes, it's not the most brilliant social media site in the world, but it is blocked by the TRA because of the content that people have put up on it. The TRA has had a long history of blocking 'dating', sorry, I mean social media sites. Twitter was blocked until August 2008, retarding the platform's adoption in the UAE. Flickr was similarly, until relatively recently, blocked in the UAE. Blogs have also been blocked by the TRA, including the still-blocked Secret Dubai Diary.

Take a look at the little beauty above: it's a snapshot of tweets from @theuaetra and it's totally representative of the 102 tweets that the organisation has pinged out into the Twitterverse in a one-way sputtering of informational spitballs. There has been no interaction at all - although it'll be interesting to see how today goes.

The TRA's YouTube channel contains nine videos uploaded three days ago, two three weeks ago, three a month ago and so on. Started at the end of December 2010, it initially drew quite high views (total views of its uploaded videos just top out the 5,000 mark) but the last batch of videos have earned one or two views each. Rather charmingly, comments are enabled, but I couldn't find any actual comments, even on videos that have attracted over 200 views. The channel has eight subscribers and one friend.

The TRA is also on Facebook, where it has garnered a remarkable 63 Likes. Again, the information flow is pretty one way with no Likes, Comments or Discussions. The oldest post I could find was dated the 2nd March. There is precisely one consumer interaction on the Facebook page and I reproduce it below. Beyond this, I have absolutely nothing more to say on the matter.

"Social media encourages user participation, openness, conversation, connectedness and a sense of community."


Abudhabilist said...

I also wonder if the customer service folk survive a pre-determined apprenticeship on the phones a Etislat-complaint-grand-central that they then graduate to the TRA.

The last photo in your post is essentially the same as the technique used by the phone guys to deflect the fact that, actually, nothing is going to be done about the customers problem, but they "will log a complaint".

All they need to do to round things off is include the 'hang up on the client when asked to put them through to a manager'.

Seriously, friends of mine in a humorous, but frustrated state used to use the 'manager request' as a means of ending the call...

Anyone called for competition...?
Oh wait we have that - kind of.

No - actually we don't.

Grumpy Goat said...

You like the TRA, Alexander, if my Facebook news feed is to be believed.

alexander... said...

Sorry, M. Goat, but Facebook doesn't have a 'Love me to death' button so I had to settle for a 'like'... ;)

TRA said...

Thank you Alexendar for your post, but TRA has launched the Social media sites recently and it takes some time to spread the awareness.

Darine said...

Well Dug up Alex. A good case study to pin up into a presentation I am doing on Social Media and Governance.

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