A Focus on Qatar

Social media use among Qataris has shifted since 2013. While Facebook penetration declined since 2013 (47% in 2013 vs. 22% 2016), Instagram’s reach is increasing (34% in 2013 vs. 60% 2016). Only one in five Qataris use Facebook, fewer than any other national group; this Facebook penetration rate is well below the second-lowest Facebook usage rate, found in Saudi Arabia, at 73%. This low Facebook engagement is unique to Qatar. However, majorities of Arab, Asian, and Western expatriates in Qatar use Facebook (67% Arab expatriates, 70% Asian expatriates, 60% Western expatriates). Instead, Qataris are far more likely to use Snapchat than Facebook.  Fifty-five percent of Qataris use Snapchat, the highest Snapchat penetration rate across all countries surveyed.

Qataris’ social media habits are not generally consistent with patterns of social media use among other nationals. Among Qatari Facebook users, for example, 57% use the platform daily, compared to 95% for other national Facebook users in the study. In addition, less than half of Qatari Facebook users rely on the service to communicate with specific individuals (43%), fewer than Facebook-using nationals in the other countries except Lebanon, where even fewer use Facebook for communication (38%).

Qatari internet users are much less likely than other nationals to say privacy concerns led them to change how they use social media (46% Qataris vs. 70% other nationals).

Qataris are also the least likely nationals surveyed to share—specifically send or post—online content. Only 36% have done so in the last month, whereas seven in 10 or more nationals in other countries report sharing online recently.

Qataris access news more than nationals in most of the other countries surveyed. More Qataris list news as one of their favorite TV genres (36%) than any other type of programming. Lebanon is the only other country where news is also listed most often as a top-three preferred TV genre (49%). The next most popular TV genres among Qataris are documentary, drama, comedy, and religion (32% documentary, 24% drama, 22% comedy, 22% religion). Fewer than one in five nationals in Qatar, forthcoming host of the 2022 World Cup, say sports is one of their favorite TV genres (18%).  

On social media, Qataris also focus on news more than nationals in other Arab countries. Among Qatari Facebook users, one-third use the platform for finding and sharing news—nearly three times higher than the average of other Facebook-active nationals in the region (12%).

Qataris estimate that 49% of the videos they view online are for news and information purposes and 46% are for pure entertainment, making them the only nationals surveyed who consume a greater percentage of news/information videos than entertainment videos online.

While Qataris are as likely as other nationals to enjoy watching sports on TV/digitally, they are less likely than the rest of the region to enjoy attending professional sporting events in person (enjoy watching on a screen: 49% Qataris vs. 50% other nationals, enjoy watching in-person: 42% Qataris vs. 49% other nationals).

When asked about their preference to watch sports on a screen or attend in person, four in 10 Qataris did not respond one way or the other, an ambivalence greater than in other countries (40% Qataris vs. 25% other nationals). More expatriates in Qatar would prefer to attend a professional sporting event than native Qataris (57% Western expatriates, 55% Asian expatriates, 47% Arab expatriates vs. 29% Qataris).

Qataris consume less entertainment media than nationals in the other five countries surveyed; they are the least likely to watch TV programs, films on TV, or any online video, less likely to listen to music in general or online, and play games on a phone (TV programs: 75% Qataris vs. 96% other nationals, films on TV: 62% vs. 92%, online video: 80% vs. 91%, music in general: 55% vs. 87%, music online: 59% vs. 80%, phone games: 37% vs. 61%).

Additionally, Qataris are trending away from certain entertainment media. As of 2016, fewer Qataris watch films both on TV and on DVD. Compared to 2014, fewer Qataris in 2016 report watching TV programs, and fewer Qataris read books, newspapers, and magazines. However, significantly more Qataris watch films in the cinema and are behind only Emiratis in moviegoing rates.

Qataris’ preferences for film genres differ from nationals in other countries. Notably, fewer Qataris than other nationals list comedy, drama, and Arab classics among their top three film genres (comedy: 43% Qataris vs. 63% other nationals, drama: 25% vs. 50%, Arab classics: 5% vs. 28%). More Qataris than other nationals prefer horror/thriller films (36% vs. 25%).

While Qataris are similar to other nationals in their preference for reality shows as a favorite TV genre (12% Qataris vs. 16% other nationals), only 3% of Qataris have voted for a reality show contestant in the past two years, the lowest share of nationals in all countries. Qatar is also the only country where nationals are more likely to watch TV content at a time other than when it is broadcast (46% Qataris vs. 30% other nationals). 

Fewer Qataris than other nationals see conflict between cultural preservation and embracing modernity. Three in 10 Qataris say it is not possible to preserve cultural traditions and integrate with modern society simultaneously, similar to the view of Tunisians (31% each), but different from Egyptians and Saudis, who are far more likely to find this integration impossible (58% and 52%). Eight in 10 Qataris want their culture to do more to integrate with modern society, more than other nationals in the region (64% other nationals). Still, most Qataris want more done to preserve cultural traditions (81%), though this figure declined from 94% in 2014.

Consuming English-language programming is more common among Qataris who watch TV than their counterparts in the other five countries (32% vs. 10%). Similarly, more Qataris read print materials such as books, newspapers, and magazines in English than other nationals (31% vs. 12%). At least four in 10 Qataris who use the following media access them in English: films, music, and the internet generally (51% films, 39% music, 41% internet).

Qataris travel outside their country far more than nationals of other Arab countries, including Emiratis and Saudis. Nearly half of Qataris have traveled abroad in the last three years, compared to just one in 10 of other nationals—an average that includes highly mobile Emiratis. Qataris have also taken an average of five trips outside their country in the last three years, compared to only two trips for other nationals.

Perhaps partly as a result, most Qataris acknowledge benefits of watching content from different parts of the world (67%), similar to the sentiments of Emiratis, but more widespread agreement than demonstrated by nationals from other countries. Still, most Qataris also agree that more entertainment should be based on their own culture and history, and more Qataris agree with this than other nationals (80% vs. 59%).

More Qataris consume TV and films from the U.S. than other Arab nationals. Sixty-three percent of Qataris watch films and one-third watch TV programs from the U.S., figures higher than other nationals in the survey. This represents an increase in use of U.S. entertainment content among Qataris since 2014 (film: 54% in 2014 vs. 63% in 2016, TV: 25% in 2014 vs. 34% in 2016). Perhaps as a result, the percentage of Qataris who say that U.S. films and TV are harmful to morality dropped between 2014 and 2016 (56% vs. 24%).

Influences on Qataris’ entertainment choices have changed since 2014. Fewer Qataris rely on in-person or phone conversations to make entertainment choices, while more say social media, user and critics’ reviews, and advertising influence their decisions.

More Qataris than other nationals with children in the household believe the government should do more to protect children from objectionable content (86% vs. 72%). Among adults with children in the home, more Qataris than others report that children’s entertainment choices are more often made or approved by an adult as opposed to decided independently by the children.