Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A profile of tweeting in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia during the current Arab revolts paints a strange picture twitter. Many people in the west might assume no one in Saudi Arabia tweets or tweets with mobile devices that contain geo-locations, but actually there are some high centers for tweeting in Saudi Arabia.

Jeddah, a very large city is seeing pretty high levels of tweeting near the center. We have been watching the levels of tweeting rise in Jeddah since the Egypt revolt. Much of this could be because of interest in news from the Arab world.

But Al Khubar is about 15% the size of Jeddah, and yet is tweeting almost at the same level. The thing to note about Al Khubar is that is has a large Shia population and is the city closest to Bahrain. Many Saudis have told me it is quite in Khubar, but its hard not to image that a good deal of that tweeting is political.

Opposed to the relatively high tweeting in these two cities the major city of Riyadh is hardly tweeting at all. Its hard to account for the differences between Khubar and Riyadh without thinking that maybe Shias in Saudi Arabia are communicating with their fellows in Bahrain and each other using Twitter.

Its hard to not conclude with recent concessions on municipal elections in Saudi Arabia that despite no massive protests a degree of simmering unrest and discontent must be going on. We suspect that the elevated tweeting in a Shia community close to Bahrain may be a sign that revolution is having an impact on Saudi Arabia.

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