NU-Q Research

Hashtag blockade: The digital landscape of the Gulf crisis

Project Description

Digital communication technologies and platforms increasingly shape the world’s politics, society, economics, and culture—and the Middle East is no exception. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have some of the highest rates of internet penetration in the Middle East (between 93–100% of the national population) and also have some of the highest rates of social media use, including Twitter (42–55% of nationals use it in general, and 29–37% report using it daily).

This project studies social media as a tool of diplomacy and disruption in contemporary international affairs, and has immediate relevance as the researchers examine how key “influencers” on social media have used specific hashtags and religious language cues as strategies to provoke, stake out, and shape public positions in the media landscape.

The ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis is the case study. The blockade of Qatar, since June 5, 2017, has increased the politicization of the online public sphere and it is even more relevant to better understand both the content and the networks of digital discourse in the region and the influencing of this discourse for political ends.


Jocelyn Sage Mitchell, Ibrahim N. Abusharif, Banu Akdenizli


Qatar National Research Fund - Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP 22-067-5-021)



Mitchell, J. S. (2019) “# Blockade: Social Media and the Gulf Diplomatic Crisis.” Review of Middle East Studies 53 (2): 200–220.