Life in Saudi Arabia: The Digital Generation Vs. The Authorities

A Saudi woman films an Islamic ceremony on her phone. Photograph: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP

A Saudi woman films an Islamic ceremony on her phone. Photograph: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP

Saudi Arabia has the world’s highest Twitter and YouTube usage per capita. It seems surprising, notes The Guardian, that a country with a monarchy, no parliament or political parties, enforced gender segregation and modesty police has such a flourishing social media world. But in a society where movie theaters and bars are non-existent and seventy percent of the population is under thirty, social media appears to be an outlet to escape boredom.

Read the full story here.

Saudis use Twitter like many Americans, for swapping jokes, sharing news, complaining about work, pointing out government inefficiencies and the like. Twitter has given people there more freedom. “For Hatoon al-Fassi, an Islamic feminist who campaigns for womens’ right to drive, social media has created a ‘virtual space’ that compensates for Saudi Arabians’ lack of legal freedom of assembly or association.” The one thing they cannot complain about or criticize: Islam. That is the red line.

The story concludes that while it is no secret that the authorities monitor social media, social media will not be going away. In fact, some believe it will be a factor in the political future of the country.

Pray for the Muslims of Saudi Arabia, that they would seek more than political freedoms. Pray that restless, seeking hearts would find Jesus through signs and wonders and through Christian workers among them. Pray for the young population of Saudi Arabia (seventy percent under age thirty), that as they engage in social media, they will hear stories of Jesus and they will encounter Christians sharing the message of Jesus.

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