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Hashtag Unity: Qatar’s digital nationalism in the Gulf crisis

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This article examines digital expressions of solidarity and unity that emerged on social media platforms in Qatar following the outbreak of the Gulf crisis in June 2017. The study undertakes an analysis of public tweets on the social network site Twitter published around Arabic hashtags in Twitter’s Qatar trends in the first two weeks of the blockade. The hashtags attracted thousands of users to form a digitally connected public calling for national unity and solidarity. An qualitative analysis of a sample from 402,962 tweets published around these hashtags reveals that users expressed national unity and solidarity through both visual and textual displays of strength, resilience, loyalty and pride. The article argues that following their emergence, the hashtags not only aimed to cement resistance against the blockade imposed on Qatar but also to forge a national identity that was centred on the persona of the nation’s leader, Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani, while denouncing social and cultural divisions that stemmed from transnational tribal identities.
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Keywords: Gulf crisis; Qatar; Twitter; digital nationalism; media and politics; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Qatar University

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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  • The emergence of satellite TV, the internet and digital technology have dramatically changed the way audiences receive information and interact with the media. The sudden success of Al-Jazeera and other Arab broadcasters have altered the way the Arab world narrates itself and reports news from the region to the rest of the world. The journal aims to lead the debate about these emerging rapid changes in media and society in Arab and Muslim parts of the world.
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