Long before Facebook updates and 140-character tweets, a number of cyber activists defined the landscape of non-government led opinion in the Gulf Arab states. In less than a decade, a group of bloggers—many of whom have never met—has paved the way for the emergence of the “other opinion” that was and continues to be largely missing from the government controlled Gulf Arab media. The shake-up to traditional media that these blogging pioneers caused was no less significant than what Al Jazeera’s arrival did to the moribund government-controlled television channels of the Arab world.
Today the number of Twitter and Facebook users in the Gulf is estimated to be in the millions. Many are outspoken and critical of Gulf Arab regime policies, religious establishments, and the stagnation of social and political reform. There is no doubt that this space for online peaceful dissent would be even narrower and less tolerated than it is today had it not been for the courageous activism of the Arab and Gulf blogging pioneers. A majority of these social media pioneers have incorporated new mediums into their activism, but a few chose to stop blogging altogether.
Read and listen the audio at Jadaliyya com