Recently a survey conducted by the Northwestern University at Qatar was published in which 10,000 adults from Egypt, Qatar, Tunisia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE participated. The results of the survey varied from each Arab country, however there was a clear distinction in which respondents thought their news was ‘credible’ or ‘untrustworthy.’ This distinction was seen between the rich Gulf States and the less opulent Arab States. Al-Jazerra reported this contradiction stating; “Overwhelming majorities in the Gulf have internet access, including about 9 in 10 people in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. But just 46 percent are connected in Jordan and 22 percent in Egypt (AlJazeera, 2013). ” Of course Qatar and the UAE have less obtrusive laws when it comes to news media and the role it has in the region. The right to the freedom of the press and speech is more affluent in the Gulf States.
Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain are more authoritative when it comes to censoring media outlets in their respective States. With the States control in daily news and the spread of information, the respondents that took the survey in Egypt and Tunisia had a very low percentage of citizens trusting what they hear from local sources. In fact only one quarter, 25%, of respondents from Egypt and Tunisia found their news sources to be credible (AlJazeera, 2013). Other countries, such as the Gulf States had an impressive 75% response of news sources being credible and trustworthy.
One more piece of information this survey sought out was the types of media predominately found in each Arab country. Here is the run-down from each state:
Top News Sources:
Lebanon: Lebanese Broadcasting Company (LBC)
Egypt: Al Hayat
Saudi Arabia: Al Arabiya…(Keep in mind AlJazerra is illegal under Saudi law)
Qatar, UAE, Jordan: AlJazeera
By looking at such data, you can’t blame the people of Egypt, Tunisa, and Bahrain to have a disconnect from where they seek the news. With the arrest of Bassem Youssef in Egypt, and the detention of political activists on Twitter in Bahrain (Zainab Al-Khawaja), the expectation of trusting State controlled news is an absurd notion. The study confirms that oppressive practices when it comes to the freedom of expression/speech in the “democratic regimes (joke)” show a disconnect with the Arab people.
AlJazeera Article: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/04/2013424125618802556.html