[Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Wikimedia Foundation and Saudi Telecom (STC) partner to provide access to Wikipedia free of mobile data charges in the Middle East

Osama Khalid osamak at gnu.org
Tue Oct 16 06:29:50 UTC 2012

I am from Saudi Arabia, so I guess I will be able to explain a few

First of all, it's important to note that Saudi Arabia is a good
example of a pretty much totalitarian state, with many governmental
agencies and institutions, the core of which, say the interior and
media ministries, play a key role in repressing unwanted expression.
However, there are others that are far from the core and enjoy some
kind of (unintended?) self-management.

It's also important to note that it is not possible to get anything on
done in Saudi Arabia on large scale without getting a governmental
institution partnership and approval.

And yes, hundreds of articles are censored, almost all of them are
related to sexuality and there aren't any known censored political or
historical articles.

> The Saudi government is investing in increasing Arabic Wikipedia
> content?  Are you sure?
> Could you tell us more about this project – i.e. how the funding is
> distributed, and who does the editing?

Yes, it is, through King Abdullah Initiative for Arabic Content[0].
They have had their own version of the Education Program for the last
two years.  [[ar:User:Ali1]] and I have been helping them by training
students.  The initiative is public and documented under a Wikipedia
namespace page on the Arabic Wikipedia.  Instructors and students have
the chance to choose the articles they see fit, without intervention
from the initiative.

> Well, this telecom company is the arm of the government to impose
> censorship in KSA.

Actually, censorship is imposed through a national proxy run by the
Communication and Information Technology Commission[1].  ISPs do not
get to pick and choose.

[0]: http://www.econtent.org.sa/
[1]: http://internet.sa/

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