Qatar’s residents are among the most connected internet users in the Middle East, but there remains huge potential for growth and improvement, states a new ictQatar report.
Qatar’s Digital Media Landscape 2011, a study that gauges online usage of English and Arabic-language speakers, found that young, educated but not necessarily affluent residents dominate the internet scene in Qatar.
The study, which entailed 633 face-to-face interviews and an in-depth statistical analysis, is enlightening but raises more than a few questions.
Firstly, do the people interviewed give us a representative picture of Qatar’s population?
Did, for example, ictQatar interview laborers? Is internet available in labor camps, or do these men fall under the 24 percent of the population that uses their phones to access digital media?
Additionally, the 82 percent internet penetration rate greatly exceeds all other studies about Qatar residents’ online usage.
Harvard’s OpenNet Initiative identified Qatar’s penetration rate at 34 percent in 2008, which made the country the second most connected in the Arab region at the time. By 2009, half of Qatar’s population was online, according to the UN.
That means either Qatar’s internet penetration has surged in the past two years, or that one or more of the studies on internet usage here are flawed.
Now that we’ve taken our grain of salt, here are some key findings of ictQatar’s report:
- Nine out of 10 people surveyed used the internet at home, with only 20 percent accessing it from work or school.
- Seventy percent of all internet users in Qatar use English as the primary language to access digital media. Only 29 percent access internet in Arabic, though 42 percent of population say Arabic is their first language.
- Twenty-four percent of internet users currently access digital media through a mobile device and 75 percent of users rely on laptops to access digital content.
- More than half of digital media users (51 percent) fall into the 20–34 age group. More than a quarter of them belong to the 25–29 group. Less than 15 percent of the users are older than 50.
The majority of users fell into low-income to mid-income groups. Thirty percent earned QR 1,000–4,999 and 20 percent had a monthly income between QR 5,000 and 9,999.
Nearly half of internet users access social media while news websites were accessed by only 37 percent of the users in Qatar.
More than a quarter of those surveyed said Qatar’s biggest challenge is faster internet connectivity. Concerns about privacy, security and complaints about filtering also made the list.