Essay on Media in Middle East

MEDIA IN THE MIDDLE EAST


Media in the Middle East
The recent uprising of globalization has given a big push to connectivity in the Arab World and displayed the prowess of media and its various aspects in the Middle East. The laws regarding media have been circumvented through the advent of social media entities like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. A profound lack of freedom in the aspect of media has been observed in the Middle East. There is an increasing need observed to free the bounds of media laws so that media surveillance can prevail along with the persistent state of surveillance that it brings. The four critical countries in consideration:
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain & Kuwait are observed in order to gain a clear Idea of the current scenario of Media Elements and its related laws in these countries. To clearly know about the condition of each element in the respective country, the specific elements should be known.
Media Censorship
The amount of control a country exercises over media content of various mediums is known as censorship.
Digitization of Media
Digitization of Media refers to the transition of media transmission methods from print media to digital forms like the internet and smartphones. This transition breaks the shackles of control on the media exercised by the government as digitized media sources are international.
Media Ownership
The entity that controls the flow of media and owns the right to censor it, retains the power of media ownership.
Transnational Satellite Broadcasting
Certain channels broadcast their signal not just throughout a nation, but through the whole world (i.e. Al Jazeera, BBC & CNN) are a part of transnational satellite broadcasting.
Media Marketing
Commercial activities connected to media transmission which include gaining money through advertising content over different types of media come under media marketing.
Penetration of Mobile Broadband Connectivity
The percentage of people in a country using mobile broadband connectivity in a country.
Saudi Arabia
Media Censorship
In this area, Saudi Arabia can be considered among the highest censored countries and resides at the third place in the world. The law that regulates media in Saudi Arabia is highly strict with minimal amount of clear detail. Social Media is heavily regulated and most sites are banned. Journalism access is very limited and in the country and major events of unrest are not covered in the local media which limits the reporting powers.
Digitization of Media
The digitization of media is witnessed in Saudi Arabia at high level among the Middle East countries. The number of internet users has also increased and the highest growth in the amount of internet users has been in Saudi Arabia. There has been a wave of television media reform in 2007 in which broadcast policies were changed and the nation viewed a fluid broadcast of news.
Impact of New Communication Technologies
The increasing use of internet in Saudi Arabia has contributed in making Arabic the fasted growing language on the internet and putting it on the 7th place. The number of Facebook users in Saudi Arabia consists of 80% of the total internet users in the Gulf region.

Media Ownership
The media outlets like newspapers and news channel broadcasting is owned mostly by private entities but the content control and subsidization of news is controlled by the government of Saudi Arabia.
Transnational Satellite Broadcasting
Al Jazeera is the biggest source of transnational broadcast in Saudi Arabia.
Media Role in Globalization
Globalization led to the amendment of the old press law into the new 2003 Press and Publications Act. This act was a step towards making the press environment of Saudi Arabia more liberal and for connecting with global information through sources like TV and Internet.
Media Marketing
Other than Al Jazeera, any other model of news marketing did not succeed in Saudi Arabia. With the rising number of social media users, marketing oriented to social media has increased due to its free nature.
Penetration of Mobiles and internet in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s rate of mobile phone penetration is 18.2 million users.
Qatar
Media Censorship
Qatar has been censoring many types of content such as criticism regarding anything related to the gulf countries, any piece of news hostile to Islam, pornography, homosexuality and political content is extensively filtered in different types of media (OpenNet Intiative, 2009).
Digitization of Media
The international news channel Al Jazeera is a product of Qatar and is a channel extensively viewed in Qatar (BBC News, 2015).
Impact of New Communication Technologies
Cable Television and interned Media has facilitated educational content and Al Jazeera has facilitated a medium of free press in Qatar.
Media Ownership
The ruling family in Qatar holds the rights to the media outlets like print media and news channels.
Transnational Satellite Broadcasting
Qatar can be declared as the most progressive country in this area as it funds and broadcasts its own transnational channel known as Al Jazeera which is renowned globally.

Role of Media in Globalization
The introduction of cable TV in 1993 gave rise to a competition in the media outlets which led to the birth of a transnational news channel broadcast from Qatar connecting it with other countries.
Media Marketing
Through Extensive use of Social Media, Media marketing through advertising and data mining occurs through the same sites.
Penetration of Mobile Phones and Internet
Mobile Phone penetration has reached 100% in Qatar and Broadband subscribers are now 0.275 million. 88% of households have internet in Qatar. (BuddeComm, 2014).
Growth of Social Media
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are extensively used and 45% of the population in Qatar uses the internet daily.
Bahrain
Media Censorship
The censorship status of Bahrain is “not free” and the government has applied censorship over internet in 2002 and smartphones in 2010 while also banning many websites and social network profiles and pages.
Digitization of Media
TV has become a primary source of news in Bahrain. With the news spreading banned through Blackberrys, other mediums are bound to catch up on this area like android apps and internet.
Impact of New Communication Technologies
New technology in media has less than desirable impact on the field of education but in general 90% of internet penetration and increasing penetration in mobile phones, a profound impact will be noticed.
Media Ownership
All the internet service providers in Bahrain are indirectly controlled by the government.
Transnational Satellite Broadcasting
All transnational channel broadcasts are banned in Bahrain which limits the worldview of Bahrain population. Al Jazeera can be viewed but the news that is broadcasted here is biased and different from the worldview on critical issues (Essaid, et al., 2012).
Role of Media in Globalization
Despite the fact that the constitution of the country guarantees a right to freedom in press, there is a tight leash on the media elements of the country. The only impact globalization has brought is the initiation of internet and certain social networks (Globalization 101, 2010).
Media Marketing
The government monitors data through proxy servers and the advertising scenario has started but not well established due to minimal reach and censorship.
Penetration of Mobile Phones and Internet
Penetration of internet services in Bahrain is 90 and growing rapidly. Mobile Phone subscriptions reached a number of 2.3 million by 2013 and was bound to increase rapidly with time (Gulf Daily News, 2013).
Growth of Social Media
After the revolution of Facebook in Bahrain, there is a high amount of clarity regarding social media and blogging has been an ongoing progress nut political bloggers practice self-censorship (Karolak, 2010).
Kuwait
Media Censorship
The censorship status of Kuwait is better than Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar and the overall media outlook of Kuwait news media is critical and outspoken due to less number of interventions of government on the news media.
Digitization of Media
There are 5 state owned and 16 privately owned new channels in Kuwait which shows the progress of TV media in that region. With an increasing penetration and less limitations on content, Kuwait has a huge potential to grow in this area.
Impact of New Communication Technologies
Advancements in communication technology have led Kuwait to a higher scale of freedom for press which reflects on the content of the media outlets that are switching to digital mediums like blogs and websites (Wheeler, 2000).
Media Ownership
All newspapers are privately owned in Kuwait, which are independent in their reporting. There are both state owned and privately owned radio stations in Kuwait and satellite dishes are common.

Transnational Satellite Broadcasting
The availability of international news in Kuwait is high and most channels are accessible through satellite dishes. There is also a local bureau of Al Jazeera in Kuwait City.
Role of Media in Globalization
Activities like online job hunting have started in Kuwait along with a high level of connectivity with the other parts of the world with social media.
Media Marketing
Due to an increase in the number of advertising agencies, media marketing sector although presently small, is bound to grow.
Penetration of Mobile Phones and Internet
75% of people in Kuwait had access to the internet in the year 2013. Telecom sector is still largely managed by government and mobile phone penetration has reached 7.6 million (Freedom House, 2014).
Growth of Social Media
Facebook is the most widely used social network in Kuwait and the country also is among the top 5 countries for twitter usage in the Arab region (12.83% penetration) (Dubai School of Government, 2012).

Bibliography
BBC News, 2015. Qatar profile – Media. [Online]
Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14702519
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BuddeComm, 2014. Qatar – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts. [Online]
Available at: http://www.budde.com.au/Research/Qatar-Telecoms-Mobile-Broadband-and-Forecasts.html
[Accessed 8 5 2015].
Committee to Protect Jounalists, 2015. 10 Most Censored Countries. [Online]
Available at: https://cpj.org/2015/04/10-most-censored-countries.php
Essaid, S., Mawad, D. & Irrera, A., 2012. AL Jazeera: One Name, Two Channels. [Online]
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Freedom House, 2014. Kuwait. [Online]
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Globalization 101, 2010. What Bahrain Thinks About Globalization. [Online]
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[Accessed 8 5 2015].
Gulf Daily News, 2013. Bahrain mobile phone subscribers top 2.3m. [Online]
Available at: http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=362505
[Accessed 8 5 2015].
Karolak, M. M., 2010. CIVIL SOCIETY AND WEB 2.0 TECHNOLOGY: A STUDY OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN , New York: New York Institute of Technology.
OpenNet Intiative, 2009. Internet Filtering in Qatar. [Online]
Available at: https://opennet.net/sites/opennet.net/files/ONI_Qatar_2009.pdf
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Wheeler, D., 2000. New Media, Globalization and Kuwaiti National Identity. Middle East Journal, 54(3).

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March 7, 2018

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