Google Earth, tool for social change in Bahrain

The Financial Times on Friday published the kind of article that should make the Google Earth team proud:

Google Earth spurs Bahraini equality drive
By William Wallis in Manama

Since Bahrain’s government blocked the Google Earth website earlier this year for its intrusion into private homes and royal palaces, Googling their island kingdom has become a national pastime for many Bahrainis. […]

A senior government official told the Financial Times that Google Earth had allowed the public to pry into private homes and ogle people’s motor yachts and swimming pools. But he acknowledged that the government’s three-day attempt to block the site had proved counterproductive.

It gave instant publicity to Google Earth and contributed to growing sophistication among Bahrainis in circumventing web censorship.

It also provided more ammunition to democracy activists ahead of parliamentary elections this Saturday, the second since King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa began introducing limited political reforms in 2001.

It gets better after that, with plenty of props to Mahmood Al-Yousif. (For earlier coverage of Bahrain on Ogle Earth, look here: Bahrain bans Google Earth, Bahrain: Censorship redux and Bahrain in Google Earth, unplugged.)