1 February 2013


Jane Kinninmont

Deputy Head and Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme


  • The young populations of the Gulf Arab monarchies are some of the most avid users of social media in the world. The trends of soaring internet and mobile phone use will have a deep effect on Gulf societies. 
  • Twitter represents a further challenge to the traditional state control of the media, which have already been profoundly altered by satellite television, though it also offers opportunities for governments to communicate with their citizens or to monitor them. It facilitates networking and connectivity across borders and across social groups. 
  • Twitter also has a levelling effect on political, social and religious discourse as the overwhelmingly youthful demographic of Twitter users has a chance to answer back or to argue with elders – such as ministers, clerics, or CEOs – in a way that they would find far harder in person. 
  • Twitter is providing a new space for political debate and mobilization, though it is also a new battleground for censorship.
This article was originally published in Arabic for Al Ahram Centre State of the Region magazine.