So it was very nice to see Muscat Confidential mentioned in a recent Times of Oman article on Omani blogging by my favorite Omani journo, Saleh Al Shaibany (thanks for the tips S & MM).
However, among websites that has really caught up the interests of many surfers is muscatconfidential.blogspot.com.
The web is hosted by an individual who said on his website that he once was an expatriate working as a government consultant. The site posts controversial topics alleged to have happened in the country.
“The muscatconfidential site posts news that cannot be confirmed and it has a wide following by expatriates. However, Omanis do write to this site to express their own views,” Al Rawahi said.
The article nicely skirts the issue on the use of VPNs in Oman. Until a few months ago yes, there was a lot of VPN (virtual private network) use in Oman, for all the reasons Saleh mentioned (VOIP, access to USA sites that demand a USA IP location, relatively anonymous internet usage), and the ones he didn't mention (tunneling through Omantel's
The recent events in Egypt and Tunisia (and Iran earlier) also highlight the huge problem this new world of the internet poses for the autocratic regime. When you're used to censoring the news and public communications, restricting the power of association, issuing licenses for anything to do with civil society, listening into all telephone calls (and don't forget locking up your unmarried daughters away from potential suitors), how the hell do you control the 'net, smart phones, twitter, facebook, blogs, forums, encrypted skype and blackberrys, all powered by an instantaneous global news cycle fueled by camera phones and a gazillion citizen reporters? Hosni Mubarak is trying to figure that out right now...
I'm not convinced restricting the use of VPN in Oman is addressing the root of the problem.
In other news
The recent 123Orion charity gig raised over 500 rials [US$1250] for Dar Al Atta's "Let's Read" program. Great job Jon G & the team! Lucky reader Scarlet Pimpernel scored 2 free tickets and reported a great time was had by all.
Photo: 123Orion rocking out at the Royal Flight club last week. (courtesy of 123Orion guitarist Jon G)
Love the bubble machine.