The Role of Social Media in the UAE: Facing Similar Challenges as Western Countries…in a good way.

UAE

After looking through this blog and figuring out what to post next, I realized that the United Arab Emirates has not been given much attention. It seems that most of the blogging and opinions have been focused on Egypt , Syria, and Bahrain (I am guilty of blogging about all three). In most cases, these posts include way’s in which the individual’s right to Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, or any other type of social media is being repressed by government factions within the Arab region. Although this is important, it is also essential to illustrate countries in which social media is developing and surviving. The UAE is a great example.

Throughout the Emirates, the hunger for social media and online expression is growing daily. According to the most recent Arab Social Media Report by the Dubai School of Government, GCC countries dominate the top five Arab Facebook users as a percentage of the population, with the UAE topping the list (The National UAE). It is important to also recognize that Dubai and the rest of the Emirates has been more open to Western culture including; having the world’s largest shopping mall, holding F-1 races, creating an indoor skiing resort, and other vanities that are usually associated with American culture. However with all the advancement in participation on social media outlets, the country is facing similar criminal and other social issues being addressed here at home. For example, young adults meeting strangers over Blackberry Messenger is being looked at by the Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Centre. A 20 year-old from Abu Dhabi stated in a news article,

“Some parents educate their children about the dangers but more of the parents don’t know what their kids are doing or who they might be meeting. They don’t know of the problems…Technology is coming on a lot and we need the education to balance it.” Does that sound familiar? I believe I have heard these sentiments on CNN featuring a report about teenagers using social media.

Also something that is exciting to see is the use of Twitter and Facebook by political leaders in UAE. For example, Sheikh Mohammed, UAE’s Prime minster has approximately 1.7 million followers on Twitter. Below is a local broadcasting station in Dubai reporting on this phenomenon and the growth of social media within the region.

 

The National, “UAE and Social Media: dangers out in the open”: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/uae-and-social-media-dangers-out-in-the-open

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