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Five in the Morning from Oman February 9, 2009

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Oman, Social Media.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
5 O’Clock, originally uploaded by surlygrrrl [ELBfoto].

When Steve Woodruff asked me to host the ‘Five in the Morning Series’ out of Oman, I had no hesitation to jump in the bandwagon.

Actually, running the series from here is a breeze. (Because 5am EST in the US is 2pm in Oman).

I’m going to use this opportunity to turn the spotlight on a couple of bloggers out of the Arabian Gulf region. They don’t educate us on social media per se, but they ‘live social media’ on their blogs by telling the world about the good, bad and ugly in their societies. No holds barred. Plus, isn’t it great to turn the mirror on a part of the world that is so less understood by the whole wide web of the world out there?

So without much ado, let’s get the show going.

The Muscatis (Muscati and his spouse Um Faisal which means ‘mother of Faisal’) publish interesting ramblings, musings and outbursts from the land called ‘Oh-man!’ on their blog.

Saudi Arabia:
Saudi Jeans written by Ahmed Al-Omran aims to provide news, commentary, and personal views on political and social issues in Saudi Arabia, with a special focus on freedom of expression, human rights and women’s rights.

Ammar aka Ammaro is a young blogger out of Bahrain who works in the financial services industry and keeps things kicking in the Pearl Island.

Two forty eight am (The B-sides) is a blog by Mark and Nat, a married Lebanese couple who are living in Kuwait. Mark works in Advertising while Nat works in TV. Both keep Kuwait on the blogging radar.

United Arab Emirates:
The blog Dubai Media Observer offers a critical view of the media industry in the UAE. If you were looking for a blog that serves you a bit of intrigue, dollops of adventure and lots of controversy, I’d lead you to Secret Dubai Diary. To top it all, Life in Dubai is a great blog written by an Australian expat with thoughts and comments on how it is to live in a city of superlatives.

Big hat-tip to Amjad for leading me to some of these blogs. Thank you Steve for this great opportunity to have a go at ‘Five in the Morning’.

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Social Networking: To be or not to be? October 5, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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To be or not to be

This morning, I checked my mail like always and there was this interesting story in my daily mailshot from ArabianBusiness.com which I had to click on and read – No ban for Facebook.

The story is about Emirates’ telecom regulator Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) saying that they had not banned popular social networking website Facebook in the UAE earlier this week, following widespread rumours that it had been blocked after thousands of residents found themselves unable to access the site. The outage was apparently due to ‘technical / connectivity issues’.

Facebook, which also happens to be the second most visited website in the UAE, is up and running again.These rumours gained significant wind in light of TRA’s move to ban social networking website Orkut in July 2007 following reports that the site contained sexually explicit material and was being used for “immoral activities”.

The UAE also has a ban on social networking websites Flickr and Hi5, and only recently lifted a ban on MySpace and YouTube. However, users based in free zone locations such as Dubai Internet City can access Flickr and Hi5.

Meanwhile Maktoob.com and faye3.com have recently teamed up to develop their own Arab social networking site to rival Facebook. The two sites are working on a joint initiative aimed at providing a service that will allow Arab communities to link up online and share contacts.

Later in the afternoon, I read “Social Networking: A Time Waster Or The Next Big Thing In Collaboration?” on Information Week. The article discusses how Facebook and other social networks in the workplace can suck up employees’ time and worse. But managed right, they may be the next breakthrough in business collaboration. Shell Oil, Procter & Gamble, Citigroup, McDonalds and General Electric are case-studies under consideration.

It was interesting to see both sides of the coin today. There are always going to be pluses and minuses for every new innovation, tool or phenomenon that brings together people and creates benefits by doing so. I think it’s all about considering the ‘better good’ or rather, the ‘larger good’.This is where I think initiatives such as ‘The Age of Conversation’ play a crucial role. AOC shows the world the power of social media to do a world of good by creating a community of people who value conversation and want to use their talents to make a difference to way brands speak to consumers. The more we promote this ‘goodness’ in markets that have its natural reservations about social media, people are going to start asking – now wait a second, let me have a slice of that pie because it seems good for me. That, my friends, is a small step for us and big leap for the world out there.

I want to thank all the AOC authors once again for teaming up for this initiative. And to all friends who have written in with comments and posts on our ‘Weekend Adventure’. You honor me so much with your kind words of appreciation. Nothing is possible without your support and encouragement.


Oh yeah, before I leave, I want you to meet this new dude on the block – Julius Caesar. Caesar is a 3-month old Persian kitty with the character of the great ruler himself, the chutzpah of a dog and the antics of an ass. He can be very clownish at times and is always sliding on surfaces and getting knocked up in the process. He loves doing somersaults, crawls up like a monkey on our legs, wants to poke his face into our coffee mugs, tries to stand up on two feet and goes gaga over tuna. Needless to say, it’s a welcome relief to have him around at work. Too bad that Caesar doesn’t belong to me. Ciao for now 🙂