Category Archives: MEDIA COVERAGE

WSJ: ‘Election Isn’t Likely to End Kuwait’s Turmoil’

We were quoted in an insightful, well written post-Kuwaiti election ‘Wall Street Journal‘ article (by veteran Maria Abi Habib): ‘Election Isn’t Likely to End Kuwait’s Turmoil, Say Analysts.’

Well worth reading.

Bloomberg: ‘Kuwait Opposition Rallies Urging Boycott of Tomorrow’s Election’

An excellent article by Bloomberg’s Fiona MacDonald, ‘Kuwait Opposition Rallies Urging Boycott of Tomorrow’s Election’ in which yours truly is quoted.

‘Kuwait Times’: Govt Attempts To Censor Blogs ‘Unacceptable’

blogs kt.JPG

Govt Attempts To Censor Blogs ‘Unacceptable’

By Ahmad Saeid, Staff Writer

Reprinted from ‘Kuwait Times’ (4th January, 2010)

KUWAIT : A number of Kuwaiti bloggers said that government’s attempt to impose censorship on blogs is unacceptable and unrealistic. The comments were made amidst expectations of the government’s plan to amend the ‘audio-visual Law’ after a TV show on the Al-Soor channel caused a wave of outrage amongst Kuwaiti tribes. “It was only a matter of time before these restrictions were imposed on bloggers,” said Amer Hilal Al-Mutairi, a Kuwaiti blogger. He added that the government has been waiting for the right excuse to strengthen its grip on the blogging community.

The minister of information is using the instability caused by the programs aired on those two TV channels, and the whole issue of national unity, as means to impose restrictions on bloggers,” said Al-Mutairi.

While he agreed that there is a group of MPs who support freedom of expression Al-Mutairi noted that some Parliamentarians have double standards about this issue. “I think that, unfortunately, a large group of MPs support the media when it speaks favorably of them and discard the media when it criticizes them,” he said.

Muhammad Al-Yousifi, another Kuwaiti blogger, said that the government has been wanting to place restrictions on bloggers for some time now. “They have been wanting to do this since the scandal of changing the electoral districts in 2006,” he said. “They only got the chance to do it now with this Parliament which is mostly ‘governmental.’ Especially since a number of bloggers are now attacking MPs.

Al-Yousifi said that the law is “more laughable than it is scary” both because of the motive to monitor blogs, and the process of monitoring blogs itself. “How do they want to conduct this censorship? They can’t do it, they physically can’t do this,” he said.

Abdul Aziz Al-Ateeqi, Kuwaiti blogger and a co-founder of the biggest blogging aggregation website in the Middle East, ‘,’ said Online Casino that it will be very difficult for the government to censor or block blogs because most of the servers that contain these blogs are outside Kuwait . They don’t fall under the jurisdiction of Kuwaiti law. “Even if they are willing to block them, people can still access them via proxies. Governments cannot stop that and cannot identify those who access them,” he said.

Al-Ateeqi also pointed out that there is a huge misunderstanding about what blogs are among Kuwaiti people in general. “Blogs are a micro prototype of Kuwaiti society. They are like diwaniyas. People speak what they think in them and if someone is [upset] by a Member of Parliament he will write his feelings in his blog. These views and feelings are varying and they are about different subjects. Political blogs are less than 15 percent of the whole blogosphere of Kuwait .

The issue of freedom of expression has been dwelled on for the past few years in Kuwait . The Amir of Kuwait, HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, has repeatedly urged local media to adopt more responsible measures of tackling delicate subjects such as national unity.

Minister of Information, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah, is still under fire from the National Assembly (NA) after a number of MPs demanded the closure of the Al-Soor channel. They accused the Minister of allowing the channel to broadcast without proper permission. A number of MPs announced they will file an interpellation motion against the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah if he does not fire the Minister.

Last October however, some of those same MPs held a number of demonstrations where they claimed the government was not doing enough to protect the freedom of expression. The demonstrations occurred after the publisher of an online newspaper, Zaed Al-Zaed, was attacked by an anonymous man. Kuwait occupies the 60th position on the Press Freedom Index issued by media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders. It is also the highest ranking Arab country on that index.

Kuwait Reacts To Obama: Poll Shows Strength of America’s Democracy


Kuwait Reacts To Obama: Poll shows strength of America’s democracy
By Francis A. Clifford Cardozo, Valiya S. Sajjad and Abubakar A. Ibrahim
Arab Times Staff
Reprinted from ‘Arab Times (6th November, 2008)

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 5: Barrack Obama’s landslide victory in the presidential elections Tuesday shows the strength of democracy in the US, Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Dr Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah told the Arab Times Wednesday. Hoping that the overwhelming worldwide support for Obama will help him solve long pending global issues like the problems in Palestine, Sheikh Mohammed expects the new US administration to have a strategic policy and spread peace in Palestine. Asked about his views on the stand of the new US administration on the situation in Iraq as well as the Iranian nuclear program, Sheikh Mohammed said “Obama promised to take concrete steps to address these issues during the campaign. I expect him to face the real world, help Iraqis build their nation, and grant them autonomy in defending their homeland. On the other hand, I believe there is a global consensus to handle this issue through the United Nations (UN).”

Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi congratulated the newly-elected US president as well as the Americans, wishing Obama success in leading one of the most powerful nations in the world. “I pass judgment on an event only when it happens. We have excellent relations with the US and we hope this will continue under Obama’s leadership but we will always be frank with them as we have been with the previous administration. We will call their attention if we see some errors and praise them for a job well done, since we are their true friends,” he added.
Looking forward to stronger ties between Kuwait and the US, Al-Khorafi urged both nations to respect each other’s sovereignty, customs and values to further cement existing ties. He said the Arab region is also keen on seeing how the new US administration will deal with political issues in the region, particularly the Palestinian issue, asserting “we will fully support moves for peace in Palestine provided these are done in an objective manner.”

In the meantime, MP Saleh Ashour believes Obama’s success is actually the triumph of the whole American nation and is regarded by many as a sign of support for the rights of minority groups, such as the Arabs and Hispanics. He said Obama’s victory also paves the way for remarkable changes not only in the US but also in the whole world, especially the current economic meltdown that, many believe, might lead to recession.
Commenting on the relations between the new US administration (Democrats) and the Gulf and Arab countries, Ashour stressed “we have strong ties with Republicans, especially since they played a major role in the liberation of Kuwait. However, this does not mean that we won’t enjoy special relations with Obama — a democrat. Under his rule, there might be slight changes in America’s foreign policy, particularly the issues related to minority groups and human rights.”

MP Mohammed Abduljader pointed out that Obama’s success symbolizes real democracy and it conveys a strong message to the whole world that actual change has started.
Asked if Obama will solve many problems in Arab and Islamic countries, Al-Abduljader said “America is always keen on serving its interests above all else and solutions to the problems in the region will not come now due to the arrival of one person – Obama. We need more time to get into the root of these problems.”

Barrack Obama should resolve all thorny issues in the Middle East through dialogue as the region cannot afford another war, says Ali Al-Baghli, former minister of oil and rights activist.
Upon assuming office, he said that Obama should send a mediator to the Middle East to take a stock of the stalled peace process and that the US should pressurize Israel in renouncing violent methods against Palestinians.
“This is because whenever the Israelis step up attacks against the Palestinians, it only strengthens hands of Hamas. Obama should work to prop up the authority of the Mahmud Abbas as this is the only we can bring about peace between the two sides. Getting the country out of the economic doldrums, should be another priority of Obama,” Al-Baghli added.

Reacting to the victory of Obama, Dr Khaled Al-Jenfawi, Columnist and Assistant Professor at the Kuwait University said: “Perhaps Obama’s key word “Change” is taking place right now in the streets, towns and cities of America; however, it remains to be seen whether real and dramatic changes in the US foreign policy are going to happen very quickly.”
“Militarily and morally committed to two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, fighting international terrorism around the globe, the US cannot just ignore its international obligations and as such should swiftly change its positions towards those yet-unsettled issues.”
“Change in America is expected to happen and one hopes that change does take place too in the international image of the US, particularly among the peoples of the underdeveloped world. Nations in Africa, Asia, and South America will have to wait a little bit longer to see whether “real” change has actually happened in the American foreign policy.”
“Instead of continuing what others consider as arrogance, hostile projection of superiority coupled with numerous misunderstandings of the cultures of non-American nations, the US needs to work on many different fronts to change how the world views it. It is of course in the interest of our American friends to start an intensive international public relation exercise to convince us, yet again, that America is the land of dreams, which can actually come true if individuals and people maintain the necessary determination and will to improve themselves.”
“Having a glimpse at the statute of liberty has always been the hope of millions of immigrants from Europe and from all over the world. Yet, due to some previous attitudes of nonchalance or “unconcerned interest” about how the world views the US, our American friends should work harder to regain the trust they deserve,” Al-Jenfawi explained.
“One hopes, of course, that the historic victory of the first afro-American president of the United State will settle some pressing international conflicts, stop the worsening of our global environment, and fix the economies of the world. A more tolerant, responsible, friendly, understanding, creative, and once again, a more beautiful America is what everyone else outside the Grant Park in Chicago wishes to see and enjoy in the very near future.”

For his part, former Kuwaiti diplomat Amer Al-Hilal said: “Both Senator McCain and Senator Obama are honorable gentleman, passionate public workers who love their country and want the best for their nation. I know that irrespective of whether a Democratic or Republican administration is present, the United States will continue to protect the sovereignty of the Gulf nations and maintain peace and stability in our part of the world.”
“As a Kuwaiti living in a very tough neighborhood, I worry about external and internal threats, but I have complete faith in Senator Obama’s commitment to safeguard our region from any instability and external coercion.”
“As a former diplomat who served in our Embassy in Washington DC during the Clinton Presidency and was privy to senior meetings at the State Dept. Pentagon, NSC – I can tell you first-hand that a Democratic administration can indeed maintain an assertive, wise and fair-minded policy in the Gulf, protect its interests and those of its allies, and continue a path of stabilization in the Middle East and elsewhere.”
“I am positive an Obama presidency will potentially even jump-start the stalled Middle East Peace Process, which lately has lost much of its luster under the shadow of extremism and geopolitical turmoil.”
Change is always welcome, especially after a long period of political, economic, and social turmoil — and people demanded change, especially in the gloom of economic woes and uncertainty over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he added.
Al-Hilal added that Obama energized the election and the issues even as he was a catalyst for a large voter turnout, especially among the young.
Al-Hilal said Obama inspired people all around the world to show a newfound interest in American politics and the election in general, adding the feeling on the Kuwaiti street certainly is one of hope and affection towards Obama.
“It is a historic day in the United States because for the first time, a multi-ethnic individual has been elected to the Presidency and is symbolic of the melting pot in the US and the impartiality and wisdom of its system.”
“Congratulations to the United States, I am happy for our friends and allies; as a Kuwaiti I too hope that we will one day get our own Obama, our own version of positive change, someone who truly loves this country and can wisely take Kuwait to new heights and out of the current doldrums we are in.”

Continue reading Kuwait Reacts To Obama: Poll Shows Strength of America’s Democracy

Kuwait MoC Adds ‘Skype’ To Series Of Blocked Net Phone Websites

Kuwait MoC Adds ‘Skype’ To Series Of Blocked Net Phone Websites
By Francis A. Clifford Cardozo
Arab Times Staff
Reprinted from ‘Arab Times’ (15th September, 2008)

KUWAIT CITY, Sept 15: Skype became the latest among a series of Internet telephony websites blocked by the Ministry of Communications (MoC). Though a number of Internet telephone websites were blocked by the ministry last year, some of them are back in operation and they include: Net2phone, Delta-three, Phoneserve, Go2call, PC2Phone, among others. Those trying to access the Skype webpage are greeted with a message: “This website has been restricted based on the instructions of the Ministry of Communications. We apologize for the inconvenience.” Skype is a software that allows users to make calls from PC to PC free of charge, while the fee is minimal for service involving PC to landline or cell phone. Skype, which is considered a leader among VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services, offers additional features including: instant messaging, file transfer and video conferencing. Some illegal Internet phone providers are charging as low as 30 fils per call to many Asian countries, even as the ministry has stepped up its campaign against the illegal practice. Hundreds of expats trading in Internet calls have been deported by the authorities since a nation wide crackdown began last year.

An operator at an illegal telephone center, who only identified himself as Rizwan, told the Arab Times that although the Skype is banned, users can still make calls by downloading the necessary software.

“Outlets which sell the pre-paid Skype cards provide the software to their customers. The ban will affect only those who do not have the software. What makes Skype unique is its new improved voice quality and instant connection which are poles apart from its competitors,” he added. “The ban will fizzle out as is the case with other VOIPs. A majority of the sites that were blocked by the ministry last year are back in business with renewed vigour. Phoneserve is getting popular among the expats as the service provider recently slashed its tariffs and has also enhanced the voice quality,” he added.

Reacting to the ban on Skype, Amer Al-Hilal, an ex-Kuwaiti diplomat and a prominent private sector manager, told the Arab Times that low paid workers have no choice but to patronize cheap telephone services, even as the telephone tariffs of ministry are highest in the world. “I do not blame them (workers) for patronizing the illegal phone service. If the ministry is serious in curbing the problem, then it should dramatically cut its rates,” he added. Al-Hilal noted that the ministry should accept the fact that the communication revolution would eventually lead to free or extremely cheap communication whether through the Internet medium or otherwise.

Stressing that the authorities are “stuck in 1985 time-warp”, he affirmed that the ministry should offer VOIP services under its umbrella and that as long as it charges exorbitant rates, people would continue to flock to illegal phone centers. Hailing the crackdown on illegal phone outlets, he noted that there is a greater need to bring to book people who embezzle millions of dinars from the government coffers. In the UAE, he said, the authorities tried to ban Skype but there was a huge uproar among the expatriate community which prompted the government to scrap its plan. “In Kuwait, the problem is that people don’t stand up for their rights whether they are Kuwaitis or expatriates. They should demand their rights even as expats can make their voices heard through their concerned embassies,” he added. “The ministry should stop relying on income derived from overseas calls and liberalize communication sector,” he concluded.

Daily News Egypt: The Trials and Tribulations of Egypt’s Third Culture Kids

The Trials and Tribulations of Egypt’s Third Culture Kids
By Ahmed Maged
Reprinted from ‘Daily News Egypt’ (August 18, 2008)

CAIRO: ‘Cross culture children’, ‘natty nomads’, ‘cultural chameleons’ are all around us. But away from what may sound like derogatory names, sociologists call them Third Culture Kids (TCK) — a term coined decades ago to describe the conditions of children exposed to the values and lifestyle of one or several cultures before returning to settle permanently in their homeland. In the process they manage to integrate elements of those cultures and their own birth culture into a third culture.

But as TCKs begin to mingle with their compatriots and attempt to adapt and share experiences, an inward conflict often arises, deterring them from joining the mainstream culture.

According to sociological research, regardless of nationality, TCKs tend to have more in common with one another than they do with non-TCKs from their own country.

Although popular sites like Facebook, Myspace, and TCKID have groups devoted to TCKs, the phenomenon has received little recognition by Egyptian and Arab researchers and expatriates alike.

Hilaliya, a weblog published in English by a Kuwaiti TCK, is perhaps the only channel from the region devoted to a group of Arab TCKs.

Continue reading Daily News Egypt: The Trials and Tribulations of Egypt’s Third Culture Kids