The State of the Net in Qatar

by · October 8, 2013

state of the net(2)Northwestern University in Qatar’s third Media Industries Forum brings to lights a plethora of interesting and relevant research results regarding digital content, e-commerce, internet usage and sentiments towards speaking your mind online in Qatar.

The results from various studies and surveys were discussed during the forum by many leading representatives in publishing, electronic media, digital media, public relations and advertising throughout the country.

According to iLoveQatar.net’s Khalifa Saleh Al-Harron, much improvement is needed in the applications market in Qatar. Commercializing this sector of the market is still relatively untouched, as only nine percent of 89 apps focused on Qatar are paid for apps. He also noted that there is a genuine need to create original Arabic digital content and that it can lead to significant business opportunities in the region.

Meanwhile, the Northwestern University in Qatar’s Media Use in Qatar’s survey results focused on feelings when it comes to speaking out online.

Let’s break down some of key findings from the survey:

  • Less than 50 percent of Qatar residents feel it “safe to say whatever one thinks about public issues” on the Internet
  • 79 percent of Qatar residents say the Internet is the “first place I go for information”
  • 54 percent feel comfortable “saying what I think about public issues”
  • 46 percent feel it “safe to say whatever one thinks about public issues.”
  • 52 percent feel “people should be free to criticize powerful institutions on the internet”
  • 57 percent feel the “internet in Qatar should be more tightly regulated than it is now.”
  • 38 percent worried that “powerful institutions” are checking what they are doing online.
  • 62 percent of Qatar residents feel the quality of news reporting in the Arab world has improved over the past two years, with 53 percent finding the news media to be credible.
  • While nearly 70 percent of Asians and 67 percent Westerners find the internet to be reliable, only 41 percent of Qatari nationals feel this way as do fewer Arab expats (37 percent)
  • Qatari nationals are far more likely than non-nationals to be using Twitter (65 percent) and Instagram (48 percent).
  • Nearly half of Arab expats (48 percent) are also on Twitter, unlike Asian (27 percent) and Westerners (24 percent)

At the first Qatar Media Industries Forum last fall, participants – many of them leaders of local media organizations – discussed the key challenges facing Qatar’s media industry. Consistent throughout the responses was a perception that there is a dearth of data on Qatar as a media market. That lack of information, or access to it, makes it hard for media or media-focused organizations to make informed decisions.

In this most recent forum, representatives of local media organizations shared their own relevant data, and engaged in a conversation about what we collectively know, and don’t know, about the local media market, and what that might mean for organizations operating in this arena.

Indeed, it’s encouraging to see that the digital and media communities are holding such wide-ranging discussions on a regular basis and that continual research is being undertaken to shine the light on trends.

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