Friday, November 09, 2012

The UAE and Twitter

Basim sent me this:  "As other Twitter users noted, the number one "most connected" communicator came as no surprise: Sultan Al Qassemi, an Emirati commentator and writer, has become an informal ambassador for the region. He was followed by Dima Khatib, a Qatari-based journalist, in the number two spot; and Wael Ghonim, a former Google executive who rose to prominence during Egypt's uprising, in number three. Most of people on the list were commentators, activists and journalists, although prominent politicians also figured large, with Egypt's Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director general of the IAEA, ranking fourth.
In GCC states, and in the UAE in particular, Twitter has helped to narrow the communication gap between the leadership and people of the region. Both Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE Foreign Minister, are included on the list.

Indeed it has:
The number of activists detained in the United Arab Emirates since the month Ramadan began on July 20, 2012, reached 57 by August 30, 2012. The most recent string of arrests by the government included a crackdown on six activists, including blogger Abdulaziz Hareb Al-Muhairi. Al-Muhairi was taken into custody after police entered his house without a warrant. In addition to Al-Muhairi, UAE authorities arrested Ahmad Awad Al Sharqi, a school administrator, Ali Abdullah Al-Khaja, a businessman, Jamal Awad Al-Sharqi, Abdullah Al-Jabri, and Rashed Khalfan Obaid Ben Sabt.

An official from the Abu Dhabi Attorney-General's office issued a stern warning against taking the issue lightly. "Some do not realise the serious consequences of their conduct on social networks and chatrooms. Libel and vilification is punishable by law whether committed in the real world or in the virtual one," he said."