Skip to main content
Popular Press
Adapting Social Media to Arabian Gulf Norms
Anthropology News (2017)
  • Norah Abokhodair, University of Washington
  • Adam Hodges
  • Sarah E. Vieweg
Saudi Arabia ranks seventh in the world for per-capita social media accounts. Much of this use is driven by the popularity of social media among younger generations, who comprise over half the population in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. Yet social media platforms imported from abroad—like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook—bring with them assumptions about the individual and notions of privacy that are often at odds with Gulf Arabian social norms and Islamic religious values.

Our research focuses on the everyday use of social media among citizens of the Gulf States of Qatar and Saudi Arabia (Vieweg and Hodges 2015, Abokhodair and Vieweg 2016, Abokhodair et al. 2017). Through 45 ethnographic interviews with women and men ranging in age from 18 to 35, we gleaned insight into the way these social media users manage privacy concerns online—concerns that are imbued in local social and religious norms—while they adapt and make the technologies their own.
  • Saudi Arabia,
  • Qatar,
  • social media,
  • Arabian Gulf,
  • Persian Gulf,
  • Gulf Cooperation Council,
  • Facebook,
  • Instagram,
  • Snapchat,
  • individual,
  • privacy
Publication Date
June 22, 2017
Publisher Statement
Copyright 2017 American Anthropological Association
Citation Information
Norah Abokhodair, Adam Hodges and Sarah E. Vieweg. "Adapting Social Media to Arabian Gulf Norms" Anthropology News Vol. 58 Iss. 3 (2017) p. e171 - e177
Available at: