Arab blogs and social media

Unlike traditional media, the internet is unstructured, unfiltered, anarchic and – most importantly – multi-directional. Its users can not only seek out the information they want but can also become providers and exchangers of information themselves. In societies where independent action is frowned upon and no one is supposed to speak out of turn, this is potentially very subversive.

One of the benefits of the internet for political activists is ease of communication. Whereas a decade or more ago they might have had to gather in clandestine meetings or surreptitiously hand out small numbers of photocopies to a few acquaintances, nowadays they post information on the internet where anyone can see it. “Most of them know how to create a blog, organise a chat group, make phone calls through a computer and use a proxy to get round censorship,” Reporters Without Borders noted in its annual report for 2007. “The web makes networking much easier, for political activists as well as teenagers.”

Basic information

Mapping the Arabic blogosphere
A detailed study of the Arabic language blogosphere by the Internet and Democracy Project at Harvard University, June 2009.

Blogging the New Arab Public
The political impact of blogging in the Middle East, by Marc Lynch. Arab Media & Society, Spring 2007

Content and usage of Arabic online forums and groups
By Helmi Noman

Historicising Arab blogs
Reflections on the transmission of ideas and information in Middle Eastern history, by Brian Ulrich. Arab Media & Society, Spring 2009

Reporting a revolution
The changing Arab media landscape, by Lawrence Pintak. Arab Media & Society

Arab blogs: Or how I learned to stop worrying and to love Middle East dictators
By Mona Eltahawy. Arab Media & Society, Spring 2007

List of articles published by Arab Media & Society

New Media and the New Middle East
Book review by Courtney C. Radsch. Arab Media & Society, Winter 2008.

The information revolution in the Middle East and North Africa
by Grey Burkhart and Susan Older. RAND Corporation, 2003

Online journal of the virtual Middle East

Meet the Bridgebloggers
Who's speaking and who's listening in the international blogosphere. By Ethan Zuckerman, 2005.


From blog to street
The Bahraini public sphere in transition, by Luke Schleusener. Arab Media & Society, Spring 2007.

Bahrain: Blogger sued
Global Voices Online, 12 April 2007.

Blogger in jail for four months
Reuters AlertNet, 29 March 2008.


A new direction or more of the same?
Political blogging in Egypt, byTom Isherwood. Arab Media & Society, Fall 2008.

Revolutions Without Revolutionaries?
Network theory, Facebook, and the Egyptian blogosphere, by David Faris. Arab Media & Society

Core to commonplace: The evolution of Egypt's blogosphere
By Courtney C. Radsch.Arab Media & Society, Fall 2008.

Speaking the unspeakable: Personal blogs in Egypt
By George Weyman, Arab Media & Society, Fall 2007.

Publicising the private: Egyptian women bloggers speak out
By Sharon Otterman. Arab Media & Society, Spring 2007.

Blogging for reform: the case of Egypt
What, if anything, has the blogging-led reform movement achieved to date? By Rania Al Malky. Arab Media & Society, Spring 2007.

Egyptians on twitter unimpressed with Obama speech
Sarah Carr on reactions to the speech over social media. Daily News Egypt, 5 June 2009


Baghdad Burning: The blogosphere, literature and the art of war
Two case studies, by Wayne Hunt. Arab Media & Society, Winter 2008.

Riverbend. Baghdad Burning II
Review of the book version of Riverbend’s blog, by Alexandra Izabela Jerome. Arab Media & Society, Summer 2007.

Salam's story
The most gripping account of the Iraq conflict came from a web diarist known as the Baghdad Blogger. But no one knew his identity - or even if he existed. Rory McCarthy finally tracked him down ... The Guardian, 30 May 2003.

Salam Pax


Social media in Lebanon's parliamentary elections of 2009
OnOffBeirut, 6 June 2009.

From A-list to webtifadas
Developments in the Lebanese blogosphere 2005-2006.Can blogs challenge the social authority of old media? By Sune Haugbolle. Arab Media & Society, Spring 2007.

Uneasy bedfellows
During the 2006 Lebanon war, bloggers were able to influence the agenda for traditional media coverage more than ever before. By Will Ward. Arab Media & Society, Spring 2007.

From Long Island to Lebanon
Through the 2006 summer war in Lebanon, blogging provided an outlet for Arabs in America to vent their frustrations, anxieties and criticisms of events. By Vivian Salama. Arab Media & Society, Spring 2007.


Talking back
How exiled Libyans are using the web to push for change, by Claudia Gazzini. Arab Media & Society, Spring 2007.


Morocco’s 'video sniper' sparks a new trend
The story of the Targuist Sniper, who filmed the police taking bribes and posted the videos on YouTube., 12 November 2007.


Social media and the Gaza conflict
By Will Ward.Arab Media & Society, Winter 2009.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: rules for internet use
Council of Ministers Resolution, 12 February 2001

OCSAB: Not my thing
Saudi Jeans, 4 April 2006

Cyber-Vigilantes effect first Saudi blog ban
Aqoul, 4 June 2006.

Religion and extremism

The Islamist opposition online in Egypt and Jordan
Pete Ajemian examines the Internet strategies of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Islamic Action Front in Jordan. Arab Media & Society, Winter 2008

Young Brothers in Cyberspace
BY Marc Lynch. Middle East Report, Winter 2007

Cyber Extremism in Web 2.0
An exploratory study of international jihadist groups, by Hsinchun Chen, Sven Thoms and T J Fu. Artificial Intelligence Lab, University of Arizona, 2008.

The Real Online Terrorist Threat
By Evan Kohlmann. Foreign Affairs, September/October 2006.

Virtually Islamic
Muslims on the internet (book review)