Jordan: The Queen's Video, New Media Battles & Spring

الأحد 06 نيسان 2008

As spring begins to take its course throughout the Kingdom, Jordanian bloggers have had a lot to talk about these past two weeks. HM Queen Rania has become a vlogger, after launching her own YouTube channel with a video that seeks to battle stereotypes that have plagued the Arab world. Global Voices covered the early reactions by Jordanian bloggers, but the Queen’s initiative has since picked up steam on the local blogosphere, as the video yields over 2,000 comments and nearly 1 million views in just over a week.

Eman hopes the initiative will be fruitful but is annoyed by a few things:

“What I find upsetting on the other hand is the fact that some of the replies are being offensive, attacking the idea and urging the Queen to address Jordanians rather than the west! to the ones who think this way I say: you seem to have no idea about the activities of the Queen and have no clue about what she’s already accomplished and what she’s still doing in this regard.”

Ahmad Humeid wonders if it can really make a difference:

“Queen Rania cannot be expected to single handedly change geopolitics with a YouTube clip. But at least she is doing something to create a bridge of understanding. And she’s using the right media to do it.”

When it comes to battling stereotypes, Qwaider thinks the Queen may be the best person for the job, while Nasim is amazed at how the video caused a big buzz on the Jordanian blogosphere, even before news of it reached local newspapers and radio stations. Elsewhere, the Queen, who was recently awarded an honorary PhD from the University of Jordan, also took the time to launch a new national education project entitled Madrasati (my school) prompting Naseem Tarawnah to discuss educational reform in Jordan, while Khalaf gives his own unique perspective on the topic.

Initiatives such as the Queen’s may only serve to highlight what online free speech is all about, especially for Jordanian bloggers. However, not all is well with free speech in Jordan. Lina gives her take on the recent jailing of several journalists; one of whom ran into trouble for an article he published online. Wael Atill looks at a recent case of identity fraud that has targeted popular Jordanian talk radio host, Mohammad Al Wakeel, that even warranted the launching of an investigation by the Minister of Interior! Meanwhile, amidst rumors of a possible new law for Jordanian online news sites, as well as the implementation of a big brother system in Internet cafes, Hareega wonders if cyber-activism in the Arab world is even worth it any more. Meanwhile, Tololy criticizes an article on the “Arab” blogosphere, which focuses only on Egyptian blogs.

“Spring in Amman”. Photo courtesy of Roba Assi

Spring may be the best time for extra-curricular activities; Deemco joins the Action Committee on a trip to a home for the elderly, while Melissa Manning and Wendy Merdian end their three-part series on 7iber dot com, as they conclude their journey of the long forgotten biblical sites of Jordan. Back in the city, Tololy stumbles unexpectedly upon camels grazing in Amman.

Photo Courtesy of Tololy.

The Observer weaves an interesting fictional tale about a Jordanian spinster that might look to be a play in the making! As Ola points to a new blog for Jordanian filmmakers, Amin Matalqa, director of the Jordanian film Captain Abu Raed, posts a brilliant photo essay of sorts, tracing a visit to the Irbid Refugee Camp nearly one year ago; a journey that ended with his discovery of Udey Qiddissi, who would go on to play the role of Tareq in the film.

Photo courtesy of Amin Matalqa

Speaking of films, Qwaider gives his opinion of the barely controversial Dutch film “Fitna” as blogger Nizar gives his:

“This shows basically nothing about Islam it’s self because all you see is only extreme misinterpretation of a Holy book, and this can be done in all religious books and actually it can be done even clearer in most religions.”

Elsewhere, Jordanian bloggers have been tracking a new advertising war between two telecom giants in the country, Zain and Umniah, whose cell phone deals have caused a consumer frenzy. Samer thinks the campaign is just silly , while theone thinks newspapers are probably pleased with the new war.

Photo courtesy of Adoosh

Politically Speaking:

On the political side of the blogosphere, Jordanian bloggers are discussing familiar topics. First up has been the issue of the much touted Amman-Zarqa railway, whose plans have been recently scrapped. Ahmad wonders if we can learn anything from the Dubai experience.

Naseem Tarawnah looks at the new traffic law that Parliament recently rejected, while wondering if the King’s National Housing Initiative is really all that sustainable. Meanwhile, Emad Salameh reviews the government’s decision to lift duty taxes on renewable and energy-conserving devices such as solar panels, but believes the government should be imposing more protectionist policies for local industries.

The search for water in Jordan has been moving at a sluggish pace, and with fears of water shortages and prices increases during the upcoming summer season, the movement has not improved. Batir Wardam looks at the fundamental right to water, and how the average Jordanian fits into the picture.

Khalaf revisits the ancient issue of oil exploration in Jordan, a topic that found a place in the final weeks of the recent Parliamentary session, while Jameed thinks the creation of a new $200 million cancer care and research facility is a great idea.

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