A study carried out by Northwestern University on media use in the Middle East in 2017 showed that Arabs tend to follow information on the Internet and social media. This is explained by the evolution of Arab Internet users’ practices on the Internet and social media. It has been found that the rate of Arab citizens watching television has declined slightly since 2013, compared to media use five years ago, while the reading rate of newspapers and magazines has dropped sharply from 47% and 26% in 2013 to 25% and 19% in 2017. As for the radio audience rate, it has dropped from 59% in 2013 to 49% in 2017. On the contrary, the Internet penetration rate has increased considerably in the seven countries studied, particularly in Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia.
Smartphones and information consumption
This research revealed that all citizens in Qatar, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have smartphones, it was also observed that just over a quarter of the respondents use news applications on a daily basis.
And that the use of news applications is a fairly popular activity in the Middle East compared to North Africa, it can be explained as follows: 85% in Saudi Arabia, 86% in the United Arab Emirates against 49% in Tunisia.
On the other hand, respondents who receive news via a smartphone at least once a day are the most likely to receive news via other platforms. The thing that requires written press professionals like Bashar Kiwan, the (AWI) group’s president to make strategic decisions about their future and diversify their digital opportunities, through websites, smartphone applications, to be able to continue in this extremely complex digital age.
Online consumption of information in the Arab region increased in 2017 and continues to increase, with more than three-quarters of respondents receiving news on their phones. As was the case then for the majority of Qataris, Emirates and Saudi Arabians who use the Internet as their primary source of news.
As for the preferred media source, 62% of respondents prefer to be informed by local companies, almost 66% of respondents trust the media in general, compared to 52% Arab media outside their country and 49% Western countries’ media and 47% social media.
As far as Tunisia is concerned, Internet users frequently receive information from television rather than electronic media, for them it is a question of reliability rather than habits, so even if there will be tension between traditional media sources and electronic media sources, as long as the citizen is suspicious of information manipulation, they will still need to have a reliable media source to help them understand reality.