CIRS Book Explores Multifaceted Digital Transformations in the MENA Region


How digital transformations and enhanced connectivity are affecting Middle Eastern societies is the focus of a new book released by Georgetown University in Qatar’s Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) titled Digital Middle East: State and Society in the Information Age (Oxford Univeristy Press/Hurst, 2018).

Edited by GU-Q’s Professor Mohamed Zayani, the book is the result of a CIRS multi-year collaborative research initiative and features a number of scholars and experts from around the world who weigh in on the evolving dynamics of the region’s information and communication landscape.

“Digital media has become increasingly important in Middle East societies,” said CIRS Director Dr Mehran Kamrava.”In studying this important phenomenon, we were fortunate to be able to call on Professor Zayani and a group of distinguished experts to examine the subject.” 

Digital Middle East explores a broad array of topics related to the wide adoption of communication technologies in the region that range from video games to e-government and from cyber security to internet governance. Drawing on rich case studies from throughout the Middle East, the book offers insights into the impact of information technologies on communication habits, social interactions, and community experiences, but also more broadly delves into on how the digital turn is affecting national development strategies and altering state society relationships. 

“This book seeks to unravel the multifaceted digital transformations the MENA region has been undergoing and to understand the effect of unfolding changes that are deeply intertwined with the growing adoption of a wide range of new information technologies,” said Mohamed Zayani, professor of critical theory and director of the Media and Politics Program. “It paints a picture of a complex digital Middle East we are only beginning to apprehend.”

Commenting on the interdisciplinary nature of the book, Joe F. Khalil, Professor of Media and Communication at Northwestern University in Qatar, noted: “This groundbreaking collection is an important contribution not only to Middle East studies, but also to media and communication studies and political science.”

Digital Middle East is the most recent in a series of book-length studies published by CIRS in partnership with Oxford University Press and Hurst. It follows from Zayani’s Bullets and Bulletins: Media and Politics in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings (with Suzi Mirgani) and the award-winning Networked Publics and Digital Contention, which has received multiple accolades including the “Global Communication and Social Change Best Book Award” from the International Communication Association (ICA), the “Communication, Information Technologies and Media Sociology Book Award” from the American Sociological Association (ASA), and the “Sue DeWine Distinguished Award for a Scholarly Book” from the National Communication Association (NCA).