Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Frustrated Saudi youth take a shine to YouTube

Ibtihal Hassan, Paul Casciato, Reuters (UK)

Much of the material involves cars, an obsession among affluent youth who cannot go to cinemas, mix with unrelated women or even enter some shopping malls because of Islamic prohibitions by the authorities and religious scholars ... Saudi journalist Susan Al-Zawawi even found herself on YouTube after she took part in a Dutch documentary program on Saudi women. "I wanted to show how normal Saudis live, in a simple house with no house maids," she says. The clip showing the inside of her home proved popular, receiving 158,000 hits and 640 comments ... "Today, young net users want to bypass the traditional media. Like any young generation around the world, they are looking for a wider audience, so they turn to YouTube and other file sharing sites," said journalist Khalid Batarfi. YouTube is also proving to be an outlet for political material. Footage of a prison officer beating prisoners appeared on Web sites this year, prompting condemnation from New York-based Human Rights Watch. Saudi dissidents writing on satirical, opposition sites such as Arab Times often refer to footage of public figures posted on YouTube.

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