To the Readers and Users of the Study:

Entertainment Media Use in the Middle East is a cooperative effort of two organizations, Northwestern University in Qatar and Doha Film Institute. It is with mutual respect and mutual interest that we entered into an agreement to better understand entertainment media and cultural attitudes in the Arab world.

DFI and NU-Q have different but complementary missions. One is a cultural institution with a mandate to nurture and promote a rising film industry for public benefit; the other is an academic institution concerned with learning and the advancement of knowledge in communication, journalism and media. Both share a commitment to educating and supporting talented personnel for the media and entertainment industries while also helping lead or shape those enterprises. We agreed to join forces in developing this study to contribute to Qatar’s cultural and economic trajectory, where modernity meets tradition. In doing so, NU-Q harnessed its research capacity and commitment to educating young professionals, while DFI offered its cultural and commercial expertise in the world of film and entertainment media.   

This study speaks to each of the pillars of Qatar’s grand strategy, its National Vision 2030, namely economic, environmental, human and social progress and development. It is in this context that the impact and potential benefits of a growing entertainment sector become clearest. Film is both a social force and an industry, and with DFI’s active participation, Qatar’s media industries are making their mark as a growing sector of a knowledge-based economy. Understanding how people make use of and respond to film is a specialty at NU-Q, and DFI helps define and contribute to human development and national culture. From those respective approaches we offer these findings as a foundation for those who simply want to learn more about entertainment media as informed consumers and citizens, and for those who work in and lead media organizations and policy in Qatar, the Middle East region, or elsewhere around the world. 

We are grateful to Robb Wood and Justin Martin at NU-Q for their leadership in almost all aspects of this project from conceptualization to completion. Much appreciation to Fatma Al-Remaihi, Hanaa Issa, Elsa Weill and the Directorate of the Doha Film Institute for their contributions to the development of the questionnaire and the interpretation of the results. The collection of data and drafting of this report was carried out by Harris Poll, now part of The Nielsen Company, led by Humphrey Taylor, Kerry Hill, David Krane, Dean Kemp, Donna Knapp and Nira Colonero. We would also like to thank the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute at Qatar University for conducting the fieldwork in Qatar. The talented team at Column Five Media worked closely with us throughout the project to develop the website and interactive tool that have made these findings vastly more accessible and engaging. Lorraine Ahearn at the University of North Carolina was commissioned to develop the literature review that provides a backdrop for the study. We also thank NU-Q student Sarah Al-Derham, who conducted qualitative interviews among Qataris, adding useful context to a number of our findings.

It is our hope that this study and its attendant website at mideastmedia.org will be useful in guiding and informing public understanding and public policy, fostering cultural enrichment, and encouraging continued creativity in entertainment industries.

Everette E. Dennis, Dean & CEO, Northwestern University in Qatar

Abdulaziz Al-Khater, CEO, Doha Film Institute