NU-Q partners with World Internet Project to extend research into the Arab world

February 04, 2013

Northwestern University in Qatar and the World Internet Project—a major international endeavor 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—have partnered to extend the research project in the Middle East, a region previously understudied by WIP.

The agreement provides a global platform for a survey research project undertaken by NU-Q that explores media consumption in eight MENA countries this year: Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Findings from the NU-Q study will be shared with WIP, which has compiled research from 37 countries to date, and be made publicly available.

The initiative makes Qatar an important player in the ground-breaking research related to new media, according to NU-Q dean and CEO Everette Dennis. WIP partner countries serve as a base–via local universities and research institutes—for conducting detailed research, generating a wealth of publications and holding annual conferences that examine the impact of new technologies.

Results of the survey are expected in April, Dr. Dennis said, and will offer insight on how the use of the Internet is changing people’s lives in the Arab world, from media use to governance and business.

“The WIP is an important survey in the media field, and we are happy to be contributing to the understanding of media in Qatar, the region, and the world,” said Dean Dennis. “It has been a great experience for our faculty and staff who have been involved in our work so far. This is a particularly important step for NU-Q, as we expand our research program and consolidate efforts with other institutions in Qatar to meet the goals of Qatar’s National Research Strategy.”

The partnership was announced Monday night by Dr. Dennis and Dr. Jeffrey Cole, the founder of WIP, who has continued his unique tracking project on Internet use for the past 25 years, resulting in annual reports and briefings for industry, government and academic institutions, NGOs and other stakeholders.

At the forefront of media and communication technology issues in the U.S., Dr. Cole serves as head of the Center for the Digital Future in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. This is where, in 2000 as a research professor, he founded the World Internet Project.

“It has always been our intent, since we launched the project, to expand to include all the regions of the world and, more than any other period, now is a fascinating time to follow developments in the Arab world and document the change sweeping through households and nations as they expand their use of the Internet. NU-Q has, from its ideal position in Qatar, provided a key gateway for us to realize this vision,” said Dr. Cole.

“We are committed to sharing the results of WIP’s work with leaders in the policy, government and business communities as well as with journalists, parents, teachers and any interested citizens,” he added.

The announcement was made during NU-Q’s “MEDIA VISION—Conversations with Digital and Global Leaders” event, at which Dr. Cole presented findings from the fourth edition of the World Internet Project report.

The report, concluded in December 2012, includes findings from 11 of the project’s 37 partner countries that explore the behavior and views of Internet users and non-users. The data was collected in Australia, Canada, Colombia, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The findings of the five-continent collaboration cover 42 topics, including the Internet and social connections, politics and the Internet, online entertainment and personal privacy.