NU-Q and Doha Film Institute partner to research entertainment media and cultural attitudes in six Arab countries

Northwestern University in Qatar and the Doha Film Institute will partner on a research project that explores trends in entertainment media consumption in the Middle East.

The survey research will explore how people in the MENA region consume and create media pertaining to entertainment, culture, and sports in six countries including Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia. By asking about both the role of entertainment in people’s lives and cultural attitudes, researchers hope to learn more about media use and society in the post-Arab Spring era.

NU-Q released survey findings on media use in the Middle East earlier this year. The survey data on entertainment media use in the Middle East will be published in 2014.

The partnership was announced on Wednesday by Abdulaziz Al-Khater, CEO of the Doha Film Institute, and Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q, who stressed the importance of the Doha Film Institute’s role in framing the research to produce rare, data-based insights into the regional media market.

“Doha Film Institute’s collaboration is a key element of the survey design. We are working with them to identify issues that are crucial to the media and entertainment industry,” said Dennis.

“Our academic and industry-specific strengths combined will help ensure this survey creates knowledge on a subject that is vital to understanding societies and economies in the region, and in turn has practical use for decision-makers in the field.”

Dennis also commented on the benefit this type of research brings to NU-Q students, some of the region’s top journalism and communication majors. “The research we conduct gives students and professors first-hand insights into the region’s media consumption trends, as well as helping us expand our research program and bolster efforts with other institutions in Qatar to meet the goals of Qatar’s National Research Strategy.”

NU-Q will solicit input and feedback from students, young media consumers in the region themselves, on the types of issues to be explored in the project.

“The changing social currents in the Middle East have generated a significant shift in what audiences consume, want, and consider appropriate entertainment, but there is not a lot of recorded data to understand these issues in detail. Producing quantitative knowledge on the subject will help members of the industry make better-informed decisions,” said Al-Khater. “We are delighted to extend our collaboration with NU-Q into the research realm, and to consolidate our efforts in contributing to Qatar’s knowledge economy.”

Al-Khater added that fieldwork is scheduled to begin in December and results are expected in March.

The partnership is the latest in a growing collaboration between the two organizations that frequently work together on projects that support local media students and producers, advance media literacy, and promote Qatar’s emerging film and media industries, including this year’s inaugural Ajyal Youth Film Festival.

The research endeavor builds on a survey conducted last year by Northwestern University in Qatar in collaboration with the World Internet Project, which is a major international initiative that has spanned more than a decade in its quest to track the social, political and economic impact of the Internet on people’s lives.

The face-to-face survey of nearly 10,000 people, which was undertaken in Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates, revealed that despite the so-called Arab Spring many Internet users in the region remain ambivalent about openly expressing their opinions online.