How to use the internet in the Middle East
Posted On August 9, 2021
The internet is a big part of everyday life in the Arab world, but there are some places where it is not used and that is where it could be used to spread hate and terrorism, experts say.
“The internet is where the vast majority of people are,” said Nasser Abu Bakr, a lecturer at the Al-Azhar University in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
“It is the medium that enables people to express themselves, to spread information and information is not something that is restricted to the Middle Eastern region.”
The internet was also used to create extremist websites in the region and it was used by Saudi authorities to spread misinformation in the Muslim world, said Abdallah al-Hamdani, a researcher at the Middle-East Institute in Washington.
Abu Bakr said the use of the internet is not limited to the Arab World.
“It is a global phenomenon and it is a way to spread hatred and fear,” he said.
The use of social media to spread disinformation, extremism and hatred in the Islamic world has not changed significantly since the 1990s, Abu Bakr added.
The US government has a history of backing repressive regimes in the past and is not likely to change its policy in the next few years, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan told Al Jazeera.
But the Saudi monarchy is committed to strengthening the role of the state in the digital age, he added.
“In the long term, we hope that we can work with the world to make sure that the internet becomes a central pillar of modern society and that we do not make it the main source of power,” Abu Bakr said.
He said that it is unlikely that the US would withdraw its support for the kingdom, saying it will not be a one-off decision.
“I believe that the Arab countries and the Gulf States are going to be able to use technology to overcome this challenge,” he added, saying that it would also be possible to work with other countries in the Gulf to build new networks.
“We will see more countries, including the United States, in the future that are open to this and that will be good.”
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region of the world has seen its population increase by nearly 3 million between 2009 and 2020, according to the UN Population Division, which said in January that population growth in the MENA region has surpassed that in the Western Hemisphere.
The region has the world’s largest Muslim population and has the fastest growing Muslim populations in the world.
In the Middle east, the population growth is expected to be higher, at about 7 million people, and there are concerns about the health of some communities in the area.
According to the Pew Research Center, the Muslim population in the UAE is projected to grow from around 1.5 million people in 2020 to around 3.2 million people by 2060.