Tuesday 10 March 2009

YouTube Ban in UAE 'on Anvil'?

Dubai's Chief of Police has called for YouTube to be banned in the UAE.

The news, broken yesterday by Arabic language daily Emarat Al Youm, is carried on the front page of today's Khaleej Times.

We would be following the exalted example of two of the world's most successful states, Pakistan and Bangladesh if we went for a ban. As KT reports, Bangladesh blocked YouTube last Sunday, Pakistan in February last year.

Lt Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim was talking to the general assembly of the Juveniles Education and Care Association when he apparently said that YouTube contained content that 'sparked dissension'. He is reported as saying to Emarat Al Youm that 'publishing pornography and defamation is not freedom.'

Blocking YouTube will further deny Emirati, and other, youth here of the opportunity to embrace a range of technologies and changes in social behaviour that are revolutionising the world around us.

That we are even contemplating blocking sites that contain content we don't like is a deep concern - the trick is engaging in a conversation, taking part in the interplay of ideas and opinion that is driving the Internet - and the flow of public opinion around the world today.

The Kipp Report filed a piece yesterday about Dubai briefing top London PR agencies to try and find out why international media coverage was quite so excoriating - and about what to do to try and combat the outbreak of bad news and negative opinion. (It quotes a certain mouthy PR, sorry about that)

Reports like this are unlikely to to help - wait until this one gets out and online.

No matter how many 'feel good' spin doctors you consult, no matter how many yummy stories they put out, this has gone beyond conventional media. The debate, the coverage, the opinion that's driving the negative sentiment isn't on dead trees - it's in electrons. It's online communities and commentators that are spreading the word, sharing the links, adding to the debate and driving the howls of 'Die Dubai'!

That's the choice ahead of Dubai and the UAE - be part of the conversation online - embrace it, open it up, encourage it and educate your people so that they can join in with it. Or be a disempowered, dumb whipping boy.

I can hear the crack of leather already.
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Godly John said...

yup, sounds like the whip!!

Dubai Jazz said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Alexander. I posted about here.

Em said...

again? *shakes head*

didn't they learn their lesson the last time everyone went gung-ho for Youtube?

whatever happened to partial blocking and blocking of individual clips? i can live with that. but blocking the entire site? dumb, dumb DUMB.

Dave said...

Maybe they want the locals to become mushrooms..... kept in the dark and fed on bull$#@!

Unknown said...

The UAE has an incredible capacity for getting things wrong. From being one of only three governments to recognise the Taliban in Afghanistan, to jailing people for possession of prescribed medicines containing codeine to arresting somebody who had three poppy seeds stuck on his jacket, if they see something that is too ridiculous for words, they'll quite likely do it.

rosh said...

Ah! Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan strikes again! He's old school and often says things with positive intention, kinda gets lost in translation and intent, or so I believe :)

Do ask for leniency whilst flogged - request indoors, not in public view, as witnessed a few times, growing up in good 'ol SHJ :)

Anonymous said...

Bangladesh's ban on youtube lasted for a grand total of 3 days, after which youtube is accessible as before.

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