A short, romantic history of blogging in the Arab world (and on meeting the last two bloggers on my list)

Amira is from Bahrain. Ahmed is from Saudi Arabia. I’m obviously Jordanian.

The three of us have many things in common, but for the sake of this post, it is one underlying factor that combines us all: we all started blogging in 2004.

I started AndFarAway. Ahmed started Saudi Jeans. Amira started Silly Bahraini Girl.

The date is very important, because unless you were super online in 2004, you probably can’t recall how early it was in the life of the social web. 2004 was a time before Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It was a time when the mere idea of sharing your thoughts with strangers on the web was considered crazy. It was a time when there were just a handful of bloggers in the Arab world, and we all knew one another very well and were often in touch.

Blogging was different than what it is today. It was a niche and difficult enough interest to be a major combining factor between bloggers, a deep insight into our characters as humans. If you were a blogger in those early days, you were either a GNU geek or a romantic lover of self-expression. I was the latter, so were Amira and Ahmed. We got along well, and we “blogged” at each other all the time. In fact, one of my favorite blog posts in the world is a letter that Ahmed wrote to me in 2006.

The years passed and I met almost every blogger worth meeting in the Arab world, but I was somehow never in the same country as Amira and Ahmed.

Then in the past month, a whole whopping ten years later, we finally managed to meet. I met Amira in Amman, and Ahmed in Dubai, and what fun it was!

amira
Amira and I

ahmed
Ahmed and I

Naser is one of my very good friends, and we initially met through blogging in 2006. Yesterday, we were discussing how easy it is these days to become friends with people you meet on the Internet. Somehow, the boundary between reality and the digital life have become so thin, even for people who are not really online. We worked hard for meeting, at some point in time, so it was so lovely meeting both Ahmed and Amira.






6 Comments »

  1. Jessie

    February 17, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

    How nice you finely got to meet them after all those years!
    My online life started in 2002 and I would meet people I met on hobby related message boards or – in case they were far away – we would phone each other. And sometimes you share so much with each other through messages that it does indeed look like you know each other, as if they are not only part of your virtual life.
    Back in 2002 people thought I really didn’t have a life that I had to look for people online and my “virtual” friends must all be psychos and serial killers.
    But thanks to the internet, I became politically involved and started writing for the news platform Indymedia. Through that website, I met so many people all over the world and I got such nice friends. And even tough they were all in their late twenties and older and I was only in my mid-teens, they became friends and 7atta law I’m so far away and we haven’t physically met since I left Belgium nine years ago, we do still speak and I know that if needed, they are there for me.
    (Wow, such a long comment was never my intention.)

  2. Roba

    February 18, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

    That’s really awesome Jessie! :) When did you and I first get in touch online?

  3. Jessie

    February 18, 2014 @ 5:24 pm

    Somewhere end of 2010, beginning of 2011 I think.

  4. lolz

    February 18, 2014 @ 9:04 pm

    A short and incomplete history that is! Nice personal story though :)

  5. Craig

    February 21, 2014 @ 5:54 am

    My online life began in about 1987, but I hated everyone I met online until I started playing Everquest in 1999. I do remember how few Arab blogs there were in 2004, though. Couldn’t have been more than a couple dozen of them, at least in English. Some countries only had ONE blogger! Others only had TWO. So weird. Especially these days, when even countries like Libya have thousands of people spamming their opinions on facebook.

  6. Roba

    February 23, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

    Hahaha. Yes, the noise is annoying :) You had to see a tweet up I went to last month… the amount of useless noise is a pain.

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