Where’s your faith in Dubai?
Although it was April Fool’s day on Wednesday, many readers were taken in by Kipp’s spoof article titled ‘Dubai to segregate the web’.
April 2, 2009 3:30 by Dana El Baltaji
In spite of an obvious byline (Jess Kiddink) and a made up authority – the Dubai Behavioral Monitoring Authority (DBMA), part of the Telecoms Regulatory Authority – numerous readers were duped by Kipp’s announcement that the DBMA will segregate the web. And a lot of them were angry.
The most controversial paragraph was the following:
“Certain sites will be blocked depending on the gender of the Web surfer. Women will be excluded from viewing motoring sites, sports and gaming sites, political pages of news portals and large sections of video sharing sites such as YouTube. Men will not be allowed access to numerous personal care and women’s fashion sites, according to the DBMA, which claims the blocks are designed “to prevent inappropriate aspirations and immoral imaginings.”"
It drove one commentator over the edge; A.A. wrote: “I only have one question. How come political news sites, motor sites and other related sites will not be accessible to us women when FACEBOOK (the world’s largest relationship site) and chat forums are to be accessible????? ”
“THINK BEFORE MAKING RANDOM DECISIONS!”
Presumably, the authorities would. And just to make things clear, the Dubai government never has, and hopefully never will segregate the internet.
What intrigued us at Kipp was how easily readers were taken in by the hoax, which leads us to believe that perhaps Dubai’s reputation of being a place of inconsistencies has been over-stretched. Dubai may be conservative, but it’s hardly unreasonable, although we recognize that conservatism and reason are relative.
Perhaps the news that Dubai has finally hired a public relations company (Finsbury, part of WPP group) in the UK to handle the emirate’s financial communications means the government has recognized the importance of maintaining a consistent and attractive image.