Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This paper examines relationships between Arab media and several different institutions including government in general, democracy specifically, and Islam. The primary purpose of this research is to gain not only broad, but also in-depth understanding of Arab governments and their control of media. One of the key issues discussed is the role of the Arabic media channel, Al-Jazeera, in the Arab region.

A literature review has been provided that serves the purpose of providing valuable background on Islam and democracy, Arab media history and the new Arab media. The literature review provides a context for the use of normative theories, authoritarian theories, Social Theory of the Media, Spiral of Silence theory and Deception theory. The review revealed four important unanswered research questions: (1) How Westerners have a different meaning of democracy than Arabs? If so why? (2) Do media experts differ from Al-Jazeera employees in their interpretation of democracy? (3) How media experts and Al-Jazeera employees agree that Al-Jazeera shows have increased public-sphere discussions, if so why? (4) Do media experts differ from Al-Jazeera employees in terms of critiquing the free information access through the Al-Jazeera channel?

In order to examine these four questions, two groups of Arab media experts were interviewed: scholarly Arab Media experts in the United Arab Emirates and Al-Jazeera channel employees in Qatar. The researcher used face-to-face and phone interviews in order to gather the research data. The researcher took notes, and there were no video and audio tape recordings used. The data were content analyzed for themes relevant to each of the two respective Arab media groups. The researcher divided the research themes into two different sections, each section summarized the interviewees' concepts and suggestions.

Conclusions are made that Islam ideals lead to press freedom and the personal right of information access is established. Arab people seek freedom through the right of elections in different countries like Kuwait and Bahrain, and Al-Jazeera has a positive influence on change in the Arab public sphere.

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Psychology Commons