Yahoo Maktoob Shuts Down 27 of its Website but Keeps its ‘Helwa’

First Published: 2010-05-03

The first of Maktoob’s sites that should have been shut down first is ‘Helwa’. I have been monitoring the website for academic research for a long time, one thing I am sure of; there is hardly any education of women going on there, notes Iqbal Tamimi.

In the last quarter of 2009 Yahoo acquired the Arabic Maktoob portal based in Jordan which is considered the largest Arab online portal at a value of US$164 million. A bit of an uproar has been experienced then by Arab bloggers who see yahoo as a threat. The brilliant Gurnham investigated the intellectual context of journalism that explains the idea of encouraging creating an online Arabic language content aiming to ‘liberate’ Arabs’ cyber sphere from language and foreign culture’s domination, since the internet is considered a potent political tool alienating its users from their society and influencing their political participation as DiMaggio et al pointed out as well.

In April 2010 the head of the BBC Arabic service, Hosam el Sokkari, has resigned to take up his new role at the Middle East’s largest Web business unit of Yahoo.

Mr. el Sokkari said he would oversee the content and audience strategy of Yahoo in the region and use the Web to “change the concept of broadcasting”. It seems he rolled up his sleeves, and as soon as he settled in his new seat he circulated the first decision of shutting down 27 of the portals for feasibility reasons.

The disappointment came not because Mr Sokkari made his first decision to close some forums, but for the fact that it seems, like many others managers of Arab Media businesses he seems to be willing to be sucked by the black hole that puts revenues’ figures ahead of ethics of journalism. The first of Maktoob’s sites that he should have shut down first is ‘Helwa’. Helwa is one of Maktoob’s arms that is based in Dubai for commercial reasons and is supposedly created to provide Arab women with ‘education’.

The content of ‘Helwa’ which means in Arabic, beautiful, is not beautiful at all. The text is worse than porn movies but published as print under misleading headings such as ‘helping women to practice a better sex with their husbands’. It seems that they think when adding words like ‘husbands’ the cheap article becomes miraculously kosher or Halal for media consumption.

The vulgar language used, deemed inappropriate for journalistic publishing, the massive dictation and grammars’ mistakes, the extensive use of slang Gulf language unfit for publication and the sexual expressions and style of writing are all clear indications that the content in no way is written by journalists, the texts available online are more like whores’ memoires . I doubt their claim that women journalists are behind such sluggish cheap content.

Many males write the most disgraceful comments one can ever read on such articles, but tail their cheap content arguments by some words related to Islam to offer a fake impression that what he is describing or fantasizing about is his own intercourse because he is kind enough to offer free education to women from ‘islamic’ point of view. Such males underestimate the intelligence of women, or they know that perfectly well and pass their own pervert messages using religious rhetoric, but their extremely primitive language skills and low standards of ethics exposes them.

Males use fake female pseudonyms to expand in describing sexual practices in the most disgraceful way claiming they are talking about personal experiences worth sharing thus disfiguring the most spiritual kind relationship between man and woman beyond recognition. Susan Romano wrote in “On Becoming a Woman: Pedagogies of the Self,” (1999) about such electronic writing that allows for bewildering array of temporary identities through the use of pseudonyms, which allows people to change their class; race, gender, age, and nationality to enter a discursive domain by choosing pseudonyms that allows them to join in a conversation yet Maktoob chosen to turn a blind eye on such degrading content that demeans women and can be accessed by children especially those who skip over the red print that says for adults only, that attracts them at the same time like a magnet .

I have been monitoring the website for academic research for a long time, one thing I am sure of; there is hardly any education of women going on there. The main line is consumerism, sales, advertising and finding a reason to squeeze stupid ads like nail varnishes, toiletries and fashion to market them on women. Even the authorities that sensor human rights websites turn a blind eye to such ridiculous website that slumps down with women below any calibre. This says a great deal about double standards.

I made my point in public and I wrote about that as The Director of Arab Women Media Watch Centre in UK after writing few times to ‘Helwa’ that did not care to respond. It is quite intriguing to see this website slips from the radar of the educated Sokkari when there are not even one article that praises Arab women achievers, scientists, doctors, pioneering businesswomen, researchers or factory workers on the not so ‘ Helwa’. If Mr Sokkari is really interested in reforming Arab media I expect he will do some research in his own back garden.

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