GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Boundary Spanning in the Arabian Gulf States: When Physical Boundaries are not an Impediment to Communication
Paper Proposal Text :

Boundaries in the Gulf States have always been challenging. Some residents of the area, most of them born before the 1960s, do not know their specific country of birth as their parents were bedouins, nomadic people that moved often in search of new seasonal venues for water and food.
Before the 1960s there was relatively little attention paid to nation building by the royal families that ruled the Gulf States. The British had helped establish boundaries via maps in Kuwait and what was then known as the Trucial States; other development issues seemed more pressing. For the most part, the older generation of royal families ruling these states was comprised of senior citizens who had little experience with the modern world. It has been reported that as late as the mid-1960s in the U.A.E. capital, Abu Dhabi, the ruler kept gold coins -- most of the national wealth -- stored under his bed in large metal gas cans. It was transferred to a bank following his 1966 peaceful overthrow by a brother.
The July 1952 Egyptian revolution was really the first Arab Spring. Bringing Gammal Abdul Nasser to power not only changed Egypt; it changed the Middle East as Nasser launched a campaign to spread his Arab Socialism philosophy. The Arabic language is a powerful one, especially when employed in an attempt to persuade via the electronic mass media. Radio was initially the offensive weapon of choice because it allowed speakers from Cairo, including Nasser himself, to reach men and women who knew the Egyptian dialect via films at a time when the so-called transistor revolution arrived. With other development priorities at the time, many Arab countries, especially the Gulf States, had no viable indigenous radio broadcasting systems to defend themselves adequately against Cairo’s powerful radio broadcasts.
Oil wealth helped change the media landscape as powerful medium-wave transmitters and then television broadcasts started. In short, the Gulf States began a pace of rapid development that reflected a newfound interest in broadcasting to its citizens, as well as to neighbors. Featured in this research is boundary spanning via television between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during a period in the late 1960s when the disputed area between the two countries that was known as the Neutral Zone was being divided.
This research first reviews the early electronic media developments in Gulf countries. It then examines specific instances where Gulf states constructed electronic media operations to span physical boundaries as a way of communicating with neighbors.