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Saudi bloggers, women’s issues and NGOs

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The results have shown quite surprising results. Firstly, it is possible to see that the chart can be divided into three main clusters, each with one main node. The first cluster can be identified around the NGO “Human Rights Watch”. The site www.hrw.org receives 2,358 links, making it the main point of reference for blogs, news outlets and other organizations. A second cluster is aggregated around the Saudi NGO www.saudijeans.org, which looks not only at women’s issues in the kingdom but also at life in Saudi Arabia in general, discussing the hot topics difficult to discuss in real life. This second actor (which is technically defined as a node) receives 3,395 links, mainly from Saudi actors, whether blogs or news media outlets. A third node can be identified around the Muslim women’s blog www.muslimahmediawatch, which largely discusses women’s representation in media, media issues in Muslim countries and women’s rights related to new media of communication. This third node receives 1,513 links from Saudi blogs and news outlets; it also links to several non-Saudi media outlets but does not receive any link back, suggesting that non-Saudi actors do not recognize it in the role of actor.


 

Secondly, it is possible to see that there are certain peripheral actors, mainly brought to the scene by Muslimahmediawatch and hrw.org. These peripheral actors are Hürriyet Daily News (Turkey), Remote Control MTV (USA, a particular link to women’s rights in Saudi Arabia), many social media platforms (such as Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, myspace, the main sort of archives where women’s issues can be found) and, surprisingly, the United Nations Web site, www.un.org.


 

Thirdly, it is important to remember that this Issue Crawler run aimed to look into any potential relationship between Saudi women’s blogs and NGOs/IGOs but resulted in an interesting map of the relationship between Saudi women’s blogs (in Arabic and English) and Saudi and non-Saudi news media outlets online.


 

Another important point to make relates to the platforms that have been used. Looking into the results, it is clear that most of the platforms used by bloggers (including Saudijeans, which is an NGO, and Muslimahmediawatch, which is a women's association conceived by women for women) are Wordpress and Blogger; moreover, many of the links inside the blogs have shown that all these interactions take place on platforms such as DIGGit, Stumbleupon, blogging platforms and RSS feeds – along with newsletters.


 

Given these results, the research then focused only on those regional NGOs dedicated to Muslim women’s issues and tried to see if and how they are linked to the blogs.


 

The hyperlink analysis has shown that there is a deep relation between Saudi blogs and Saudi NGOs. In this map (Map 3, again visible on the pdf version through the link at the bottom of the page) it is possible to see that there is a homogeneous disposition of blogs and NGOs. The map shows a triangular shape where two of the corners are Saudijeans and Human Rights Watch. They are the two actors that receive most links. The third corner is the blogger Saudiwoman, which receives links mainly from blogs but also from hrfssaudiarabia, the Web site of the NGO Human Rights First Society.


 

This map shows that there is a relationship between local NGOs (those that could be defined as grass-roots or small) and Saudi blogs. Even content analysis has shown that 'women’s issues in Saudi Arabia' are discussed in very similar tones and in the same language, showing a high affinity in issue articulation.


 

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1 Marres N. (2005), No issue, no public, UvA (Amsterdam): WTMC and the faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam

2 Boas T. and Kalathil S. (2003), Open Networks, closed regimes. The impact of the internet on authoritarian rule, Washington DC: Carnegies Endowment fro International peace, pp103-134; Albrech Hofheinz (2005), The Internet in the Arab World: Playground for political Liberalization available at www.fes.de/ipg/IPG3_2005/07HOFHEINZ.PDF; Rasha A. Abdullah, (2007), The Internet in the Arab World -Egypt and Beyond- New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc.

3 http://en.rsf.org/internet-enemie-saudi-arabia,36681.html

5 http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/censorship/

6 Open Net Initiative, Saudi Arabia report, August 2009, available at http://opennet.net/research/profiles/saudi-arabia

8 Marres N. (2005), No issue, no public, UvA (Amsterdam): WTMC and the faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam

9 The IssueCrawler is web network location and visualization software. It consists of crawlers, analysis engines and visualization modules. It is server-side software that crawls specified sites and captures the outlinks from the specified sites. Sites may be crawled and analyzed in three ways: co-link, snowball and inter-actor. On http://www.govcom.org/Issuecrawler_instructions.htm