Archive for June, 2011

Buzz Report: UAE Fuel Crisis

Newspapers in the UAE reported that after four weeks and two deadlines, Sharjah ran out of patience with oil retailer Enoc and ordered the closure of all its petrol stations in the emirate on Friday, according to Sharjah TV.

An SMS from the Sharjah government-owned channel, said the decision followed the expiry of a 72-hour deadline set by the Sharjah Executive Council on Tuesday, asking the retailer to resume normal operations at its pumps or close shop.

“A lack of response from Enoc to adhere to the deadline has forced the closure of all Enoc pumps in Sharjah,” the message said.

There has been a lot of buzz on the social networks in the UAE.  SocialEyez analyzed social media conversations and found that a huge number of the UAE residents expressed dissatisfaction over the closure of Enoc and Eppco petrol stations and said that it resolves nothing but only brings more difficulties.

Shalie Alegarme, a resident of Sharjah, expressed concerns over motorists who store petrol in plastic containers.

This would pose danger considering that the containers were fragile. “I was curious to find out why it took so much time for the motorist ahead of me to pull out from the queue. I later saw that there were many passengers inside the vehicle, and each carried big plastic containers to store petrol,” said Alegarme.

What people are saying?

On Blogs

Alexander:  “In fact, The National (James Bond’s favourite Middle Eastern newspaper, dontcha know) leads with ‘Empty filling stations and the great fuel mystery’, gleefully reporting that retailers Enoc and Eppco (two brands of the same company, in fact) have cited pump upgrades to their 167 stations across the country as being the cause of their empty forecourts. The newspaper’s reporters visited a number of the stations and confirm what you already possibly suspect: there is no sign of any work going on to upgrade anything in any way whatsoever. I have personally seen closed stations opening again once a tanker has visited, so there must obviously be some degree of indecision regarding which stations to upgrade”.

Anonymous: “This is an embarrassment for the UAE who are an oil exporter, not an importer.”

Anonymous:  “ As the month-old petrol crisis continues at pumps across Sharjah and Ajman continues there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. According to media reports 25,000 tonnes of petrol may soon be delivered to Sharjah. It’s unclear when the fuel will be delivered.

News Agency Reuters says multinational oil firm Total has won a contract from UAE fuel retailer Emarat to buy an extra 100,000 tonnes of gasoline from June to September. Reports also emerged that petrol prices would increase in the Emirates by up to 33% however officials deny the claims.”

Ashish: Double Standards: Petrol & Consumer Rights –  Something is seriously wrong here and if as expatriates we are to feel comfortable or if Dubai as an Emirate hopes to rope in more international investment, there has to be a certain sense of transparency.  Such headlines and lines outside petrol stations send the wrong message to potential investors in the country and despite all the progress that the country has made, a few negative headlines like this, tarnish the reputation of Dubai and the UAE internationally.  Lines outside petrol stations is something that you expect to see in third world countries and the UAE is definitely not a third world country.

There needs to be an end to the double standards that exist.  If as consumer we are to have rights, then we have the right to demand an explanation from the petrol companies.  If the existing petrol companies can’t operate profitably, then open the market to competition and let petrol retailers enter the market and let market forces operate.  At the moment we’re seeing clearly that protectionist policies aren’t working.  Changing all of this is something that can happen in the long term but in the short-term, please open up, make a statement and stop acting as if it is business as usual.

On Micro-Blogs & Discussion Forums

  • “Can’t get over the fact that Dubai / UAE are facing fuel crisis.”
  • “The people of #UAE deserve a public apology from #Enoc for the fuel crisis which remains unexplained. #Petrol.”
  • “They were still operating their convenience store, the only income source as per ENOC and Emarat, since they are losing on every gallon sold… “
  • “The stations were closed anyway, so what is the point?  I don’t see how this action will help solve the issue.”
  • “So I’m wondering why they don’t do this little by little, to minimize the disruption.”
  • “It’s a real problem, I see long queues everywhere for fuel, and i fuel up the tank anytime I find it a bit empty…”
  • Imagine that! A country sitting on 20% of the world’s oil having fuel problems, who’d thunk it, eh ?
  • “I am all for electric cars, but that electricity has to be produced somehow, coal can do that imagine….we empower a nation of electric cars with coal/natural gas and in about 20 years we slowly move to solar/wind/etc…. as they become REAL OPTIONS”

Comments in Arabic

  • مشكله بسيطه و ان شاء الله تنحل …
  • الاغلب يعتقد انها سياسة لرفع سعر البترول ..!؟…
  • انا اتفق مع الناس ان هذي وسيلة جديدة لرفع سعر البترول في نهاية السنة الحالية مثل ما هم مخططين له من زمان !!!!!!!!!!!! يبون يدرون طرق ووسائل لخداع الجهات الرسمية والناس لافناعهم بضرورة زيادة البترول ….

Daily Volume

The daily average direct mentions of UAE fuel crisis in English on social media increased from 648 to 1141 during the first week of June 2011 to the third week of June 2011.

Arabic mentions also increased from 167 to 374.

Sentiment Analysis

48% of social media conversations have been found as neutral because a huge volume of buzz about UAE fuel crisis is being created by sharing content published on newspapers and blogs.

Share of Voice

62% of social media conversations about UAE fuel crisis are taking place on Message board forums like Facebook and Twitter.

 

SCOPE NOTE:

This Buzz Report monitors trends and themes that buzzed on various social media platforms during the last two weeks.  The search was conducted on all social media platforms in Arabic & English. The focus of the research was on UAE and the conversations and social media trends reflect the sentiment from the residents of the UAE. Write to us at news@social-eyez.com.

UAE Fuel Crisis Buzz Report – Arabic

Report Compiled by the SocialEyez Content Team

Buzz Report: Free Amina

A young Syrian-American teacher who has been blogging about the Middle East uprisings and what it’s like to be gay in Syria had been kidnapped, according to her family.

A dual citizen who was born in Virginia to an American mother and a Syrian father, Amina Abdallah was often outspoken in her criticism of the government on her blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus.”

When Washington Post interviewed Amina Abdallah in April 2011, she said that she blogged despite the danger in doing so because “when the Arab revolutions began, I realized I wanted to get my voice out there.” Abdallah also believed herself to be relatively safe because she has relatives in the government and the Muslim Brotherhood.

But when a person who introduced herself as Abdallah’s cousin took over her blog last week, she wrote that Abdallah had been taken by three armed men when she was on her way to meet with protest organizers that day.

“Her father is desperately trying to find out where she is and who has taken her. Unfortunately there are at least 18 different police formations in Syria as well as multiple different party militias and gangs. We do not know who took her so we do not know who to ask to get her back,” her cousin wrote on a social media forum.

Social Sentiment

Majority of people shared a positive sentiment towards Amina Abdallah with 62% social media users supporting her cause and asking for her release, whereas 26% voiced a negative opinion about her and 12% of the social media users decided to remain neutral but just disseminating the news via content sharing websites.

Conversations about Amina have been buzzing on a real time basis. Here’s a sampling of some of the Tweets, Facebook comments and Discussions happening on various blogs.

Razaniyat: Dear Amina, whoever you are, wherever you are, I really hope you’re safe. I love your writings and your politics. Kisses #FreeAmina #Syria

Tanya Notley : Over 10,000 people have been arrested in past 3 months in Syria. Why focus on one person only? #Amina #freeamina

Mona Eltahawy: I don’t care what her real name is or what her father’s name us. #FreeAmina and thousands of others held by #Assad regime. #Syria

“There are absolutely no grounds for Amina Abdallah’s abduction or for the abduction of dozens of other bloggers and journalists in Syria,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Like many other netizens, Abdallah blogged about her everyday life and, of late, about the events shaking her country. This should not have led to her disappearance. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the dozens of bloggers and journalists currently detained in Syria and we call on the Syrian authorities to end the abuses against them.”

In her blog, “A Gay Girl in Damascus”, Abdallah had been describing the current turmoil in Syria. Her posts had been getting more critical of the government and she had even called for its departure. In a blog entry about the disconnection of the Internet on 3 June, she wrote: “They must go, they must go soon. That is all there is to say.”

Top Discussed Subjects

  • Is it possible to get in touch with Amina’s father, perhaps he can show images of her?
  • Does Syrian-American dual citizenship Amina Arraf force US government to get involved to
  • Speaking out is more harmful to the Arab regimes than bombing yourself.  Is the peaceful approach towards protest violent?

Please Note: The facts and figures included in this report have been generated from the
SocialEyez Social Media Monitoring & Analysis Tool.

The numbers reflect the sentiment
and opinions shared by people in the MENA region in languages spoken by the social media communities that thrive here.

Write to us at news@social-eyez.com for more details.

Compiled by the SocialEyezTM Content Development Team

Click on the links below to read the Buzz Report in Arabic:

Buzz Report: Free Amina (Arabic)

Buzz Report: Arrest of Manal Al-Sharif

Arrest of Manal Al-Sharif – a female activist who posted a video of herself driving on YouTube

Reactions to the arrest highlight the divisions in Saudi society between those in favour of reform (supporters of Al Sharif’s actions and of women’s right to drive) and those who believe Al-Sharif flouted not only Saudi law but also local and Islamic customs. Al-Sharif was released on May 30 although the case against has not been formally dropped, and she may be called in for further questioning.

The 32-year old computer security expert and employee of the national oil company Saudi Aramco was arrested in the eastern city of Al Khobar on May 22 after posting the YouTube video. Women are forbidden from driving in Saudi Arabia and the issue has regularly surfaced in recent years, with calls by some for the laws to be changed and periodic attempts by female activists such as Manal Al-Sharif to force the issue by getting behind the wheel.

The question of women driving could be seen as symbolic of wider calls for social reform in the conservative kingdom. At the same time, some view it as a matter of practicality, citing the irony of women having to depend on employed drivers (i.e. being in the car with a strange man) as opposed to simply driving themselves or pointing to the need to drive in an emergency. These points of view come out strongly in the social media as do the views of those who believe Al-Sharif was wrong to do what she did and that custom and/or religion dictates women should not drive.

Share of Coverage 

The liveliest exchanges of the week took place on Twitter and Facebook with some 2,010 and 1,788 relevant tweets and posts respectively. The comments on these two platforms reflect the diversity of views within Saudi society when it comes to social issues and the split between those who are for and against reform.

A majority (64%) of tweets over the course of the week were in favour of Al-Sharif while the Facebook posts were split more evenly between supporters and critics with 49% in favour of Al-Sharif’s actions and 51% against. Interestingly, a larger proportion of critics – when measured on a daily basis – posted and tweeted during the earlier part of the week while the majority of comments from May 26 onwards were in support of Al-Sharif.

Comments on blogs were for the most part against Al-Sharif’s actions, with her critics at times criticizing the West and portraying women driving as an alien, western concept. One blogger indicated women’s driving is not the issue per se, but rather the Saudi Arabian government’s fear that the flood gate of calls for additional reforms would be opened if women were given driving licenses.

The arrest and eventual release of Manal Al-Sharif dominated the Saudi twitter landscape with 1,710 tweets on the subject captured over the course of the week. The majority of tweets, 1,047 in total, were in support of Al-Sharif. Nevertheless, the diverse views show the intensity of the debate over social reforms that have been taking place internally in Saudi Arabia for several years.

Social Media Highlights

Highlights from Blogs:

  • The blog farman.me expressed support for the idea of women driving but criticized Al-Sharif actions on the grounds that there are more important social that need to be tackled. The blog states: “I can say, confidently, that women can drive and it is not against Islam. But I still think that Manal Al-Sharif should have paid attention to other more important issues like the divorced women issue in Saudi Arabia and the issue of women who suffer from poverty. I am not against her cause; I am against how she presented it.”
  • The Saudijeans.org blog saw a discussion between two posters who drew comparisons between Saudi Arabia and the US. The poster Saudicotterdefended Al-Sharif’s arrest, stating: “Just glad that Saudi aren’t going the path of the US and detaining people without charge and spying on everyone and profiling foreigners and jailing people for minor incidents on basis of unknown laws. With the fat cats corruptly eating public money and never getting caught or punished. Oh and I wasn’t changing the subject, I keep referring to the US because those who want their unreasonable ‘change’ keep bringing up how rosy the US is, they can go there and stay for five years and become US citizens…then cry for the rest of their lives trying to get their Saudi nationality back.”In response, Abbas posted: “@Saudicotter: I think one of the most serious issues in this country is how satisfied the people are with the situation, and I assure you it’s a false satisfaction Regarding your comments about free education and no taxes; these things are indeed very good, but don’t be fooled for a moment; this the Saudi people’s right, and if we weren’t being continuously mugged we’d be even better off. You’re asking people to be sheep and believe that ‘this is the best it can get’, but it’s not. Please educate yourself.”
  • A post on saudiwoman.wordpress.com by a user named Khaled sarcastically called on women to demand their rights so that Saudi Arabia could turn into another Dubai: Yeah, we need to make Saudi Arabia like Dubai, We need sluts, prostitutes, hookers, clubs and bars…. A good glass of vodka with Russian girls in Riyadh would be the right way… Imagine Saudi topless women sitting in deserts like in France or UK…Saudi women rise up for your freedom. there is nothing wrong with walking topless, when the parliaments of UK, Canada and many European countries have approved it, you should fight for your rights……Fight for your nightclubs, fight for rum, vodka, discotheques etc. etc… Fight for womanizers like Jamal Khashoggi and make him Interior Minister…March towards FREEDOM.”
  • Posting on americanbedu.com, Ali Alyami said the government’s fear of having to concede further reforms is the real issue behind Al-Sharif’s arrest: “Driving Is Not the Issue… The theocratic and autocratic ruling Saudi men are scared that their captive population, male and female, might break away from the grinding fears through which the regime has been able to crush people’s aspirations, to treat them as less than human beings and to control every aspect of people’s lives for decades… Ms. Al-Shareef will be severely physically abused and humiliated… This is done not only to silence her but also to send a message to anyone who dares question the Saudi regime’s absolute rule. Like her predecessors, she will come out of prison apologizing for crimes she never committed and praising the system for its wisdom and just governing practices.”

Highlights from Twitter:

  • @Osamah15: “Driving is prohibited for women according to the Islamic law; doing what might cause harm is a sin.”
  • A number of tweets likened Al-Sharif to Egypt’s Wael Ghunaim, the administrator of the Face book page that is credited with sparking the revolution in Egypt. @snyarnet tweeted: “The waves created by Manal Al-Sharif in Saudi Arabia are much greater than the impact of Wael Ghunaim on the Egyptians.” (retweeted by @BUSHRA4LIFE)
  • @abualkhair, a human rights defender from Saudi Arabia, supports Manal’s cause: “those against women’s rights know very well they will lose a lot this time………..and women pay the price for their courage.”
  • @WaleedSulais called for women in Saudi Arabia to rally in support of Al-Sharif’s cause: “Saudi women activists must have a large role in the case of Manal, agitating at all levels; this is an opportunity to unite against the enemies of freedom.”
  • @Mohamad_alsubhi worried about the breakdown of law and order if individuals started to take matters into their own hands: “It’s a problem if an individual imposes his views by force. Where is the prestige of the state and its decisions?! A dangerous situation to be frank.”

 Highlights from Facebook:

  • Ahmed Al-Atawi who stated on Facebook that men in Saudi Arabia are not against women, who make up for half of society, but believes women should respect the laws, regulations and the traditions of the Islam and the Saudi society otherwise they will be punished.
  • Abdulla Al-Ghamdi believes that Manal Al-Sharif is carrying out foreign agenda to spark an uprising in Saudi Arabia.
  • Smooy Alhindal wonders how it can be sinful for a woman to drive yet not be against the tenets of Islam that a woman rely on a chauffeur who is neither her brother, father or husband to move around by car.
  • Khalid Al-Ghabis wrote “Manal Al-Sharif did not abide by Saudi laws. Putting her in prison for a few days is not enough; she should stand before a judge.”
  • Mohammad Al-Afif linked Al-Sharif’s arrest to the relationship between the government and the religious establishment: “Manal’s detention was extended to make extremists in Saudi Arabia happy. The government is returning the favor to those extremists after they issued their Fatwas [religious edicts] which prevented a revolution in Saudi Arabia.”
  • Adnan Almutib on Facebook: “We are against everything that might corrupt Muslim women; we are against westernization our society and we will defend Saudi Arabia against corruption.”


SCOPE NOTE:

The Buzz Report monitors major political trends and themes that buzzed on various social media platforms during the last one week.  The search was conducted on all social media platforms.

The focus of the research was on Middle East and the conversations and social media trends reflect the sentiment from the Arab world.

Report Compiled by the SocialEyez Content Team

Click on the links below to read the Buzz Report in the following languages:

Buzz Report Manal Al Sharif – Arabic

Buzz Report Manal Al Sharif – French

Buzz Report Manal Al Sharif – Persian

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