Measuring Qatari Women’s Progress Through Reactions to Online Behavior

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, Virgina Commonwealth University in Qatar, Qatar
Rumsha Shahzad, Independent Scholar
Tanya Kane, Qatar University, Qatar
Published: February 28, 2017

Citation: Rajakumar, M., Shahzad, R., & Kane, T. (2017). Measuring Qatari Women’s Progress Through Reactions to Online Behavior. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 2(1).


The close kinship structure of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) means that appeasing one’s family often supersedes personal aspirations. The family occupies a central space in the life of the individual, one that mimics the state’s involvement in the everyday lives of its citizens. Within such a context we need a new framework to understand how women’s private choices have sociopolitical implications. Qatari women are ensconced within the political and economic stability of the Arabian Gulf. The Western feminist tropes of activism and advocacy, as have been studied in Egypt and other Arab countries affected by the Arab uprisings of 2011, cannot characterize Qatari women’s behavior on social media. Yet the degree to which women present themselves online, using their real names, is a form of agency important to their context. Qatari women also use social media in order to educate themselves about the personalities and activities of potential spouses. Similarly, male Qataris consider certain behaviors as disqualifiers for potential brides. We discuss these trends within the larger context of Qatari society and the dichotomy between modernization and traditional culture in the Arabian context. This article arose out of a larger study about contemporary marriage practices and attitudes toward partner selection in Qatar today. The ways in which both males and females analyze the social media usage of potential partners is an interesting ancillary discussion against the backdrop of larger trends in Qatari society.


gender, social media, Arabian Gulf