United Arab Emirates: Popular music website blocked

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United Arab Emirates:
Popular music website blocked

MySpace.com – rated as the third most popular website in the world – has been blocked in the United Arab Emirates, causing many grievances amongst Dubai’s internet savvy, reports the Dubai newspaper 7 Days

MySpace.com is an interactive website which offers a user-submitted network of band and artist profiles, including their photos and blogs as well as free examples of their music. It has been instrumental in marketing art and music among young people. Some bands have even been signed to record companies thanks to the exposure this site allowed them.

Time magazine says MySpace.com is among the 50 coolest websites of the year. According to the magazine, MySpace.com is: “The place where web stars are born, music and film careers are launched, and some single people manage to find mates.” MySpace.com now has 100 million registered users worldwide, including thousands in the United Arab Emirates.

 
For the majority of the country, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation, also known as Etisalat, has a monopoly on business and personal telecommunications services. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) requires Etisalat to actively censor Internet sites, and material which is deemed offensive is often blocked. Etisalat said this week that MySpace.com is banned because the website does not do enough to categorise adult content.

7 Days writes:
“For 28 year-old United Arab Emirates national Saleh Hamed, not being able to access MySpace.com means that the chances of his band, Juliana Down, ever being discovered are promptly limited.”

The newspaper quotes Hamed as saying:
“Nowadays as a creative person you need feedback and you need a broader medium to help you find your audience. MySpace did exactly that for my band. It gave us a wider exposure than we would ever have got in the United Arab Emirates and the feedback we received encouraged us to make more music. Then one day it was just gone.”

Hamed says that if a site is found to offend, blocking it outright is not always the answer. The solution, he suggests, is not censorship, but education. Otherwise United Arab Emirates is in danger of being left behind in the creativity stakes.

Source:

7 Days – 15 August 2006:
‘Does blocking the web block creativity?’

The site in question:

www.myspace.com

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