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Media (R)evolutions: Media use in the Middle East

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
Also available in:  Françaisالعربية 

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.
Digital divides are narrowing between generations and social classes within countries in the Middle East, according to a report published by the Northwestern University in Qatar in partnership with Doha Film Institute. This six-nation (Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates) survey provides a comprehensive overview of media use in the region. Here are some of the findings of the report:
  • “Cultural attitudes
    • A majority of nationals in all six countries want more entertainment media based on their culture and history, ranging from 52% of Tunisians to 80% of Qataris.
    • Use of entertainment media in Arabic is widespread, but use of English is much lower and—in some countries—declining. Only about four in 10 nationals watch films or access the internet in English. Majorities of nationals consume entertainment content from Arab countries, while consumption of film, TV, and music from the U.S. decreased since 2014.
  • Censorship and regulations
    • Three in 10 internet users worry about governments checking their online activity, a slight decline from 2013 and 2015.
    • A majority of nationals supports the freedom to express ideas online even if they are unpopular (54%).
  • Online & Social Media
    • About eight in 10 national internet users in the region use Facebook and WhatsApp, the dominant social media platforms.
    • From 2013 to 2016, internet penetration rose in all six countries surveyed, but most dramatically in Egypt, as well as Lebanon.
    • Nearly all nationals in Arab Gulf countries use the internet.

  • Film
    • Television remains the most popular medium for watching films, followed by the internet. Twice as many people watched films on TV in the past six months than those who watched online (84% vs. 39%).
    • Despite the growing popularity of watching films online, only 5% of internet users paid to watch films online in the past year.
  • TV
    • Television remains an important source of entertainment in the region, but is losing ground to the internet.
    • All nationals who watch TV watch in Arabic (99%). Only one-tenth of nationals watch TV in English (11%), down from 18% in 2014.
  • Music
    • Televised music videos are highly popular in Arab countries. TV is the most common platform for listening to music across the region; three in four nationals access music on TV.
    • Most internet users stream music online. Three quarters of internet users listen to music online in 2016 (78%) and 31% listen to online music daily.
  • Gaming
    • Nearly four in 10 nationals in the region play video games (36%).
    • Six in 10 nationals who own a smartphone play games on their phone (59%).
  • Sports
    • Sports is reported as a top-three favorite TV genre by 22% of respondents, behind only comedy, drama, and news.
    • While nationals enjoy watching sports, they are not inclined to pay to access sports online.
  • News
    • More respondents in all countries access news on TV than online, except in Qatar.
    • More Emiratis and Saudis read newspapers than other nationals surveyed.
  • Children’s Media
    • According to adult respondents, 45% of children 0 to 6 years old in their households play games on a phone at least once a week; one in six spend time online every day.
    • Respondents estimate that more of the entertainment media consumed by girls in their households is chosen by adults than is the entertainment consumed by boys.”
Take a look at the full report to learn more about the media use in the Middle East. 

Photo credit: Arne Hoel / World Bank 

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