NU-Q’s annual media use survey: Qataris spend 45 hours a week online

October 11, 2017

A recent study by Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) found Qataris spend approximately 45 hours per week on the internet, compared with just 27 hours among other nationals in the Middle East.

NU-Q’s fifth Media Use in the Middle East survey takes a closer look at the media consumption patterns in seven Arab nations – Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, and UAE.

With interviews from more than 7,000 subjects – including citizens, resident nationals, and expatriates – the survey paints an overall picture of the cultural and political attitudes and preferences of media consumers in the Middle East. 

“Our study reinforces the value of longitudinal research. Even small gains or losses in media attention can significantly impact a competitive marketplace,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO. “In the last five years, our analyses have gained currency in the region and internationally, and has been used by scholars, journalists, as well as media entrepreneurs.”

Qataris are avid social media users. With the growth in Snapchat’s popularity in all countries since 2015, Qataris remain by far the nationals most likely to use it, with more than 60 percent active on the social media platform, one of the highest percentages in the world.

On news consumption, the survey found that only two-thirds of Qatari nationals get their news from their smartphones, which is significantly lower than five of the other nations, except Tunisia, with the UAE having the highest rate at 98 percent. Qataris are also straying from TV news consumption, with only half of the population saying they get their news from TV, a much lower average compared to the rest of the region.

“While our findings suggest that the majority of Qataris (60 percent) feel news coverage of their country is fair, it is worth noting that our data was collected before the Gulf crisis unraveled,” said Dennis. “With the media shake-up and information war that continues to unfold today, it will be interesting to see how next year’s results will compare.”

Along with media consumption, the survey also assessed perspectives on the freedom to criticize government policies online. Qataris, at 14 percent, were the least likely to say it’s okay to criticize the government or voice controversial opinions about politics online, compared to Lebanon, which was most likely to say it was okay with more than two-thirds of nationals supporting public criticism of politics. Qataris were also the least concerned about government’s surveillance of their online activity, with 23 percent expressing concern, compared to 51 percent of Lebanese nationals, again the highest in the region.

The annual survey is an institutional project of NU-Q to produce the intelligence necessary for media scholars, producers, governments, and users themselves to make informed decisions about media creation and dissemination, public policy, and media law.