Aug 5, 2010

When Arabism and technology collide

There’s no doubt that in this part of the world, politics plays a key role in our daily lives. Some choose to partake, others choose to avoid.

Then there are those who suffer from paranoid schizophrenia, thinking that governments are after them and watching their every move.

I refer to the editor (and I use the term loosely) of

Once upon a time, this website, despite its atrocious grammar, used to be a great source of technology and Arab startups information. Lately, the website has turned into a source of controversial political articles and delusional patriotism.

As a fan of the old format, I find one of his recent articles sad and alarming.
It all began when the US State Department launched the Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) last month.

The program targets each element required for the success of SMEs in the Arab world, offering support in areas including training and mentoring, funds, as well as networking opportunities to promote their businesses.

Somehow, this initiative, which I think is in favor of Arab entrepreneurs, was devastating for Arabcrunch.

The editor’s paranoia quickly kicked in and he published an outrageous article and a dreadful letter slamming the initiative. You can read the entire article and the embarrassing letter he sent to the US State Department here.

Excerpts from his article… 
“Then I  moved on to ask Steven from the State dep. that we do not feel comfortable at ArabCrunch to have the U.S State Department competing with us, since the US federal government has over 1 trillion USD in yearly budget, 1 million soldiers, Nukes, around 1 million CIA, FBI and other intelligent personal inside USA alone let alone the company that operates under other cover and let alone in other countries around the world.” 
“I told him we can deal with the private sector competition, but not with (the only) super power like the US government. This move is 100% against the capitalist principles and the free market ideology that the United States government has been professing around the world for decades. I also told him that this sound like Communism.” 
“After the event Greg Behrman from the US State Department and a Member of its the Policy Planning Staff, has proposed that I meet him along with Steven in order to discuss and “collaborate” off course I said NO, as the term “collaboration” meaning becoming spy in the spy world.” 
“Our sources who are close to the U.S State Department and the US Department of Defense have informed us that if you do not find ways to collaborate with the State Department they will destroy you.”

In his awkward letter to the US State Department, the editor said: 

This makes me honestly scarred and not just worried about ArabCrunch but also about my own personal safety. US gov. is a super power, we on the other hand are Nada. Also I am not sure how would the US government feel about a small non American entity that is competing with it, in some of its projects and that is growing day after day. As i have no intention in leaving or closing ArabCrunch at any case.” 

Did you giggle? Did you shake your head in disbelief? Me too!

I read his article a couple of times. First, to understand what he was rambling about and second, to read between the lines. It’s obvious that the editor’s paranoia is purely business related. His only concern is losing to competition, as indicated in his article several times.

If he was a true hero, he would have welcomed such initiative that would give Arab SMEs and entrepreneurs worldwide support and exposure. His arguments are irrational and idiotic at best.

His article is nothing but a cheap attempt to gain the sympathy and support of Arab - and mainly Muslim- readers by evoking their emotions, again, under false patriotism, to gain more readership and popularity for his 'business'.

Once the article got published, several people commented. I was one of them.

Following my comment, which he obviously hated, he quickly replied and insinuated I was ‘funded’ by the US and work with the US State Department. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from him.

The article now has 46 comments; some were in support of the editor while others criticized him for being way out of line with his article. My favorite comment was:

Disgusted Friend  |  August 4th, 2010 at 1:49 AM #
Who the hell do you think you are? Do you really think that your tiny ArabCrunch has been really doing any mentoring in the market?
You did not even get your tiny user-base in organic growth, all users have registered based on your personal request over and over again, which was fun for a while but became annoying later.
So I would advise you to stop wasting your life and our time reading such stupid articles like this one.
If there was a freedom I would sue you for extreme stupidity and exaggeration, and trying to mislead your readers by involving proof without citing your sources.
The US Department are doing this work to actually create and encourage entrepreneurship while you’re doing it to fill your wallet, so who are you trying to fool with this patriotism stuff?
As they’ve said in the comments, create a personal blog or something if you feel like ranting. 

Following a series of negative comments, the editor updated his post with this disclaimer:
Update: ArabCrunch has positive opinion about the American people and nothing against any nation, in case you got mixed up.

My advice to the editor is to try and be an impartial reporter and to go back to what made his site popular in the first place, technology related news. Leave politics out of it. Otherwise, you will definitely lose readership to competition and judging from the comments, you already did. 

Not once have I read a political or religious article on Engadget, TechCrunch or Gizmodo. Only in the Arab world, politics and religion invade every aspect of our lives, including a technology website.

P.S. For the love of god, get an English editor or proofread your articles before publishing them. 


KJ said...

That was an interesting read.

"As I said in the US delegation event in Amman, Jordan last month, ArabCrunch can not compete with the US federal government, which has over 1 trillion USD in yearly budget an army of over millions soldiers CIA/FBI agents nukes and what not with advanced weapons."

معلش شو جاب ** لمرحبا

I don't know what nukes have to do with entrepreneurship and tech websites. It reminded me of the URL shortener service when they ran into competition with With twitter's "funding" to the owners felt they were being sabotaged - and a barrage of blog posts on the website were sentimental and self-victimizing.

Doing business is never easy regardless of what that business is. Emotions should be kept to oneself or on some personal blog, not as a reflection of the company's image. Even if you go to website now and check the last paragraph and footer you will know what I mean.

As for religion and politics, my dad gave me the best advice: Don't talk about them.

Arabianism said...

Could not agree more. His article is all over the place and just weird and insane.

My major issue with the article is that it's personal and not tech related. He is destroying his image as a journalist/editor and the image of Arabcrunch.

Pascal Assaf said...

interesting post

Aabo0 said...

Sigh, it saddens me that we have idiots like this editor going around and embarrassing us in this way.
Anyway, you've been doing an outstanding job with your blog, I find most of your articles very informative and entertaining.

Arabianism said...

@Aabo0 - Thank you for your sweet comment :)

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