Survey conducted by Ipsos at Mena ICT Forum shows that Arab citizens spend quarter of their lives using diverse media
Ipsos included six Arab countries in the survey, namely Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, KSA, Kuwait and the UAE. The study found that Arab people watch television for around 4 hours, use their mobile phone for about 1.5 hours, and navigate the internet for 1 hour on average per day. The rest of the time is spent listening to the radio, reading newspapers and magazines, and playing video games. This constitutes 30% of an Arab's day which in turn is the equivalent of the average working day in the Arab region. Globally known for its workers' low productivity, is this highly-mediated lifestyle one of the reasons for this problem, or is it the result of the prevalence of Arab youth unemployment?
Perhaps an Arabic Facebook equivalent is needed
Clearly the record breaking world and regional records for members of social network sites will continue to climb. When Facebook declared that its user number had exceeded 500 million people throughout the six continents, the results of the study showed that 32% of Arab people in the surveyed countries use social communication networks, mainly Facebook and Twitter. The study also revealed that 96% of social network sites that were used by Arabs are foreign networks; while a mere 4% of such networks are in Arabic. Therefore one wonders whether decision makers in the Arab World are aware of the importance of such social network sites in terms of shaping the interests of Arab youth; or if they are aware of the necessity of Arabic social networks other than those centered on dating or finding or a life partner.
Are Arabs still relying on rumors and "Sawalif" as reliable sources of information?
Apparently, new openness along with the transparency policy that Arabic media has started to follow has limited the use of unreliable oral stories. The survey further showed that the ratio of people relying on oral information, derived mainly from rumors, is in general low throughout most Arab countries. In fact, the percentage of people who consider that oral information- exchanged between individuals- constitutes as a major source of their information is rated at 6.2% in Kuwait and Lebanon, 5.4% in Egypt, 3.8% in Saudi Arabia, and finally at 1.7% in the UAE, except for Jordan with a rate of 11.6% (which reflects an inherited social and cultural aspect deeply rooted in Jordanian identity that still depends on the statement "I heard").
Private satellite channels are a major source of information in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon while the internet is flourishing in the Arabian Gulf region
The climate of relative freedom and openness prevailing in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon in recent years has led to the creation of many private satellite channels. This has helped establish television as the primary source of information for citizens in said countries, with a ratio of 54% comparing to 23% for the Arabian Gulf citizens in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait where the media ground seems to be less competitive than in Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. Meanwhile, the internet is the primary source of information in Arabian Gulf countries with 48% usage as compared to 22% in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. According to experts, this is due to substantial advances in communication infrastructure and information technology.
Emiratis are rated first in reading in the Arab world while Lebanon and Jordan rely on history
It is highly likely that the Arab world is on the threshold of a considerable change in its cultural scene. For decades, the countries known as the "Golden Triangle" have played a pioneering role in Arabic culture, namely Egypt as the most productive country in literature, Lebanon as the holder of the biggest publishing houses, and Iraq, possessing the highest reading rate. However, the UAE has now destroyed such theories since it has been rated first in reading with 54.2%, followed by Lebanon with 53.5%, then Jordan with 47.6% while Egypt was ranked last at 10.6%, falling behind Kuwait and Saudi Arabia with 44.8% consecutively. Observers are aware of the fact that reading in Gulf countries is generally done by the youth who are between 15 and 30 years old. This would nominate these countries, known for their big investments in culture and education, to become the new cultural leaders in the region; while other countries such as Lebanon and Jordan need to renew their reading culture.
Intense competition between Jordanian and Lebanese women for leadership in ICT usage
While Jordanian and Lebanese males fall behind in the use of ICT applications as compared to the evident skills in technological usage mastered by the youth Arabian Gulf countries, Jordanian and Lebanese women continue to compete to win the top Arabic rank in technology usage. Jordanian women, who hold first rank in the Arab world within the surveyed countries constitute 44.9% of the total number of internet users in Jordan, compared to 36.4% of Lebanese women. Jordanian women scored first among the female readers of e-newspapers with 33.9% of the total number of e-newspaper readers, while the Lebanese women held second place with 33.6%.
In terms of social networking, Jordanian women scored first in the Arab World with a ratio of 36.3%, while Saudi women came in second place scoring 32.7%. On the other hand, Lebanese women won the title of the women who read the most in comparison with other Arabic women scoring 59% of the total readers in Lebanon while Jordanian women readers came in second place, scoring 54.8%.
The competition between Lebanese and Jordanian women did not only deal with internet usage, but also electronic games where Jordanian women represented 38.7% of all users comparing to 34.2% of the Lebanese women, proving that cultural heritage combined with a climate of freedom and opening up to the world have transformed Jordanian and Lebanese women into a prototype for Arab women's entrance into the "digital" era.
The chart below shows the ratio of media considered to be primary sources of information according to different age categories. The internet will be a huge media force in the coming years while the television currently maintains first place.