Saudi youth and Social Media

I read this article in the NYTimes and it is right on topic. I am currently preparing for my proposal defense and I believe that this article is a great teaser to what my study is going to be about, and the study expected results and contributions.

Some interesting points:

“Young women who cannot find jobs sell food or jewelry through Instagram. Since they are banned from driving, they get rides from car services like Uber and Careem. ” This is a true statement. In recent years the number of shops on Instagram tripled and the sale usually is conducted through WhatsApp. What is interesting in this behavior is that Saudi Sales men and women decided to ignore sites like Etsy and ebay that make the shopping experience easy and are designed specificully with shopping and selling in mind. To social media platforms like instagram and WhatsApp that were designed for different purposes in mind.  This is one of many other examples where Saudi youth made technologies their own, or in the words of the article author “Many have used the new technologies in uniquely Saudi ways.”

Another one is regarding the use of social media for romance and intimacy

“For Raqad Alabdali, a conservative 22-year-old from a Riyadh suburb, romance began when a man she did not know responded to her melancholy posts on Twitter with a private message. They were soon messaging constantly.” Romance and intimacy over social media is not very surprising … many stories here in the US and Europe show how applications like Tender and Grinder are helping men and women find their other half.. What is unique in the Saudi version of the story is that women and men are segregated in many aspects of the public life in Saudi.. so when they meet on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook it is totally random and some could end up in marriage and some dont.

The article shares the example of Raqad who continues her story ” They exchanged phone numbers for an occasional call, and she eventually sent him a photo of herself unveiled, in a white dress with bare shoulders and eye makeup on her uncovered face. He said he wanted to marry her. His mother called hers. The couple is planning a family meeting to make their engagement formal, Ms. Alabdali said. It will be their first time in the same room.“I don’t have any doubt that he’ll marry me or is serious about me,” Ms. Alabdali said. Why so sure? Her older brother and his wife met on Facebook.”

I will be sharing a version of my proposal once it is ready for publishing. Stay tuned…

Published by

Norah Abokhodair

I'm an applied social scientist with a passion for researching and developing the next generation of social and collaborative technologies. Currently, I'm a Research Program Manager at the Microsoft Learning Innovation Lab where our cross-functional team of PMs, UX Researchers, and Software Engineers employ design thinking to discover the future of seamless learning experiences, leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence.

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