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i was just contacted by a former colleague who asked why i hadn’t posted anything about the situation in the MENA region. This is my response:

Hi P,

the problem with blogging about it; state agencies can target you if you do:

https://www.eff.org/wp/surveillance-self-defense-international  

i know that in Syria and Iran the state has used blog and social media postings to target activists. So i’m trying to keep a bit of a low profile. i track my twitter feed and feel overwhelmed. 

security here is Oman is up: yesterday, for the first time ever i’ve seen, armed soldiers with fully automatic weapons in the guard towers around the Sultan’s farm that i cycle past every day… i wave and flash the peace sign, they wave back.
things are happening bizarrely quickly and won’t happen here or there in the UAE, count on it.
In Oman the Sultan is genuinely revered. In his 40 years in power, since he told his father to stay home, he’s single handedly brought Oman from a 3 primary school state to a nation which now has universal primary and secondary education. There are several public and private universities which Ss are able to attend many on full govt scholarships. About the only thing i hear Ss complain about is internet access: how expensive it is; how slow it is; and how VOIP services like Skype and Gtalk are all blocked. i’ve been trying to teach them how to use the internet to improve their writing and teaching skills and it’s been an uphill battle as getting a steady internet connection on campus is a daily struggle.
In the UAE, Emiratis make up only about 20% of the population; all the expats, from the lowly paid labourers to the fat-cat expat executives are all there for the pay check. They’re not about to rock the boat.  And virtually every Emirati family has at least one family member earning a fat government salary and perks like a free house when they marry another Emirati so they don’t have anything to gain by tipping over the canoe either.
Things i do know about what is currently happening in Egypt:
It is not Islamist in nature; the Muslim Brotherhood came to the party late and have been shouted down by crowds when they try and get people chanting their slogans. So the crap on Fox News by O’Reilly is a total paranoid appeal aimed at getting the rednecks in the Ozarks scared about the Islamic boogyman.
The looting, featured in western media reports: much of it is being carried out by “thugs” police officers dressed as civilians (who first attacked protesters) and prisoners released from prisons yesterday to sow chaos. People are defending themselves and their neighbourhoods with the help of some honest police and military.
The people that have the most to worry about by events in Egypt are the Israelis. If the protesters succeed the status quo that has kept the population of Gaza bottled up will be gone. It will be a whole new ball game.
What will happen next? As i write this it is apparent that the protesters are settling in for the duration, if need be. A general strike has been called and is happening; the Cairo Stock Exchange has been closed indefinitely. Men are taking the night shift, manning road blocks, protecting museums and neighbourhoods and in the public squares. Women have decided they will take the day shift while their men rest. Women are an integral part of this popular uprising, they want a real future for their children.
the best view of what’s happening i’ve read is by an Egyptian twitter friend:
i’ve a couple of colleagues living and working in Cairo and haven’t been able to get in touch with them since the internet was cut there. i hope and pray they are ok.
interesting that many of Egypt’s fat cats fled to Dubai yesterday. i can imagine the parking lot at the end of the runway is now crowded with their private jets.
i’ll leave you with this video:
stay well
pax et amare,
rob
On 30 January 2011 08:30, P wrote: 

Hi Rob,
i just checked your blog to see what you’ve to say about recent events in Egypt.  I was disappointed not to read a well articulated analysis.  K says you’ve been following events closely.  Hope you’re well,
P
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