The clubhouse policy prohibits users from recording conversations without attendees’ consent. However, the company states that audio will be temporarily recorded to investigate reports of policy violations. It was not specified who could listen to such recordings and when.

A clubhouse spokeswoman declined to comment.

But something about the spontaneous, intimate nature of the conversations – open to everyone, regardless of fame or number of followers – keeps people coming back in. Government propaganda aside, Clubhouse gives Qataris full access to their Saudi neighbors and Egyptians access to defenders of the Muslim Brotherhood after years of bitter feuds between their countries.

“People have longed for this type of communication, but I don’t think they realized it until they started using Clubhouse,” said Tharwat Abaza, 28, an Egyptian dentist who said he did Heard spaces where sexual harassment was discussed, feminism, the need for sex education in Arab countries, and mental health. “At this point it is one of the freest platforms and gives us space for important discussions that we should have without being afraid of the witch hunt.”

Of course, there are plenty of less paid clubhouse rooms in the Middle East that talk about the cuteness of penguins, entrepreneurship, recipes, breakups, and music. During the holy month of Ramadan, users in some countries offer live Quran recitations and communal prayer rooms.

However, if the clubhouse can function as a group therapy, talk show, house party, or seminar, then it is characterized by its political potential.

In Iran, despite predictions of low voter turnout ahead of the June 18 presidential election, electoral clubhouse rooms are among the most popular. Thousands participate every day at a time when personal campaigns are restricted by the pandemic.