I was telling a friend of mine about the candidate in the parliamentary elections recently held in Kuwait who was caught trying to bribe a voter, when my friend asked me: “Why are you so interested in Kuwaiti elections? Why do you even care?” I did not know what to say. I knew the answers to his questions, but I did not seem to be able to bring them out.
I was impressed by Kuwaitis, especially the youth: how smart, active, and politically savvy they are. I was also impressed by the way they used blogs to express their views, organize their movement, rally for change and reform, and protest against corruption. I was so impressed I wanted to be a part of what was going on there, and that’s probably why I was so interested in Kuwait’s elections.
I was not the only one. Other fewllow bloggers have expressed similar views. Abdullah Al Dammak, a newcomer to the local blogosphere, says he envied Kuwaitis, but was amazed by, and admired what they did. “Our youth are completely ignorant of politics,” he wrote. “Even the young leaders are politically ignorant, especially university students, and more particularly the Islamists.”
Abdullah asks many questions, good ones actually, and one of them is what are the reasons behind such political illiteracy? I think there are many reasons; including, but not limited to, education, the way parents raise their children, and some government policies. There are more details to be added here, and probably there are other reasons, but that’s another post.
However, not everyone have the same enthusiasm to be involved in politics. Ahmad Al Swailem, a reporter for the daily Al Riyadh, says that, over the years, he has gotten bored with politics and has become sick of it. Then the internet has come, and he was happy because it provided him with a wide range of content, unlike what is available in newspapers and TV, where politics is the dominant topic. “But unfortunately, politics has started to dominate the internet, too, in the past two years,” he said, including blogs.
“Funny, humorous blogs that are informative and entertaining in the same time has started to diminish in the past six months,” Al Swailem added, comparing this to the rise of political blogs.
But I’m afraid I have to disagree, especially when we talk about the Saudi blogosphere, where we still lack real political blogs. I occasionally blog on politics here, I don’t consider Saudi Jeans a political blog. I write about too many things of interest to me, but I’m almost sure that none of my readers come here to read political analysis. What I mean by political blog are those which are mainly focused on politics. Sahat Al Safah and Manalaa.net are two good examples.
The future looks blurry and uncertain for Saudi political blogs: Are we going to witness a rise of Saudi political blogs, how many of them there will be, how are they going to be introduced, what can they offer, and what role can they play in a country where public participation in the process of making decision is very limited if nonexistent? These are all questions that need to be answered. We maybe able to put some expectations, but such expectaions may also prove to be useless as blogging as a medium do not evolve and proliferate under some known set of rules. Only time will tell.