Middle East Media Educator


This study addressed the literature gap about users of social networking sites in an eastmeets- west setting with specific attention to expatriates and the country’s Nationals.Dubai is the fieldwork location. Previous studies typically focused on a narrowly defined age group for the respondent sample, and little attention has been directed towards nationality. This exploratory study considered demographics, i.e., age, nationality, gender and length of time living in Dubai as well as purpose of use and views about privacy. Following the literature review, two in-depth interviews from industry and two focus groups informed the development of the questionnaire. After pre-testing, the survey was distributed at seven venues around the city to obtain a population cross-section. Two hundred and fiftyfour usable surveys were received from social networking site users. This exploratory study identified that expatriates appear to use social networking sites as a familial link rather than a tool for communication. Comparisons for purpose and privacy noted differences across age, nationality, gender, and years lived in Dubai. Research about social networking site use and users is still in its infancy. The sites appear to hold strong appeal for expatriates far from home and nationals who are distanced from others by society’s cultural and religious values. Future research may seek to understand expatriate use with more in-depth attention to nationality segments.