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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gulf states drop in press freedom rankings

From Arabian Business:

Many Arab states in the Gulf region have dropped in this year’s world press freedom rankings, Reporters Without Borders said.

Kuwait, which came top out of all Arab nations in the 2009 list, fell 27 places to number 87 out of 178, drawing level with the UAE, according to information on the group’s website.

Kuwait is regarded as having the freest press in the Gulf region, however its treatment of the writer Mohamed Abdel Qader al-Jassem, who has been jailed twice following accusations against official figures, is one of the reasons for its decline.

Qatar also dropped 27 places on the list to 121, while Bahrain slipped from 119 place to 144 due to the "growing number of imprisonments and trials, notably against bloggers and netizens," Reports Without Borders said in a statement. Oman fell 17 places to 124 and the UAE slipped just one place.

However, Saudi Arabia bucked the regional trend, rising six spots to 157 place. Despite the increase the country languishes last among GCC countries.

The full report is here.

The methodology of the rankings seems to be somewhat consistent, although they didn't release the detailed answers to the questions that went into the scores so there may have been inherent bias in how they answered the questions as well as how highly they ranked some questions versus others. In the end, it is impossible to be truly unbiased in a survey such as this one.

Lebanon ended up at 78, Israel at 86 but "Israel territories" at 132, Jordan 120, Egypt 127, Iraq 130, Algeria 133, Morocco 135, Turkey 138, PA 150, Syria 173.

For contrast, the US ended up at 20 but US "extra territorial" at 99.

Many of the top countries were in Scandinavia. Not that I know one way or the other, but I wonder how many viewpoints they allow that go against the politically correct.