Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Facebook in the Kingdom

Minister Abdulaziz Khoja, Saudi Minister of Information, and a former Saudi Ambassador to Turkey, Russia, Morocco and Lebanon... has a facebook page.

Yes... a facebook page.

I hesitate to dive into all the hype surrounding "new media" and "web 2.0" as a revolutionary tool, but this move undeniably sends a significant message: Saudi Arabia, a country which has a track-record of blocking and restricting access to these types of sites in the past, now has an Information Minister who is embracing the networking site and using it to communicate with the public. HOW it will be used remains to be seen, but so far the minister has communicated with the public about emergency situations, and even conducted online interviews.

This seems to signify that the ministry is finally taking online communications seriously- a move in the right direction, as the Saudi public clearly has something to say. Doubtful? Check out the "Saudi Bloggers" social network (hosted on - a social network that brings together bloggers from Saudi Arabia.

Faisal J. Abbas, London-based International Arab Affairs and Media Commentator for the Huffington Post, did a quick Facebook-interview with the Minister, who explained why he decided to join Facebook:

I felt the need to reach out to the young generation and to speak the same language they do... Since we live in the age of communication I felt the need to cope with all the technological advancement, and finally King Abdullah orders us to serve the people in every way possible

What does this mean for youth in Saudi Arabia? What does this mean for the future of communications-transparency-public diplomacy-etc... in Saudi Arabia? I guess we shall see...

1 comment:

  1. interesting, great to know our older traditional generations are embracing the new media and technology!!
    Wonder what that means for us, the younger generations!!