- Kuwait is 56th in the world ranking for human development (UNDP)
- According to the World Economic Forum, it ranks 1st worldwide for mobile coverage, 2nd in cell and broadband subscriptions, and 14th for home computers
- Mobile penetration rates are estimated as high as 240% and internet land coverage is 100%, according to the Central Authority for Information Technology
- Despite its high levels of digital penetration, and one of the world’s highest per capita Gross National Incomes (GNI) (World Bank), the 2019 World Economic Forum ranks Kuwait as only the 54th most competitive country
- With an expatriate population of approximately 70% (Central Statistics Bureau) and high levels of income inequality, the DiSTO Kuwait project will explore relationships between these extreme offline conditions and the population’s online outcomes
The DiSTO Kuwait project comprises the adaptation, validation, and implementation of DiSTO’s methodology and framework to the Kuwaiti context, including the development of an Arabic version of its key scales. The long-term ambition is to collect national-level data using these modified tools, which can then inform local academic and policy discussions, while also contributing to broader comparisons by providing data from Kuwait to larger evaluations of global media conditions and social changes.
The project has been developed in two stages: (1) an exploratory research and (2) the full study, informed by the findings obtained through the preliminary exercise.
This first stage involved work on a preliminary subset of DiSTO questions and exploratory cognitive interviews. A special emphasis was given to the methodological challenges of adapting DiSTO’s global tools to local conditions within a Middle Eastern country.
- A visiting fellowship in collaboration with the London School of Economics and Political Science during which DiSTO’s measurement tools were adapted and translated (including back translation) for testing and validating in Kuwait.
- 17 cognitive interviews with selected respondents to determine the applicability and understanding of the primary questionnaire and to collect vital qualitative data showing cultural specificities of engagement with digital media.
- The evaluation of the state of international and domestic ICT data about Kuwait, aiming to identify potential gaps that could be addressed with greater information about digital media use and their outcomes (i.e. the contributions from DiSTO data).
The visiting fellowship for Dr Fahed Al-Sumait was granted by the LSE Kuwait Programme, funded by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.
This project represents the first application of the DiSTO methodology to an Arab context, thereby making inroads into the Middle East region where both income and digital inequalities are extreme and digitisation is taking place at a rapid pace.
- Questionnaire adaptation, translation and validation
- Pilot testing and scale refinements, done through 30 pilot surveys with individuals representative of the population
- Cognitive interviews
- Data collection from a national sample of 1000 individuals representing the Kuwaiti population (citizens and expats)
This project is funded by the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Dr. Fahed Al-Sumait is an Assistant Professor at the Gulf University for Science and Technology and Co-Pi on the DiSTO-Kuwait research project. His research background is in Communication studies.
Nouf Al Saif is the Research Associate for the DiSTO project in Kuwait, where she is also a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Mass Communication and Media at the Gulf University for Science and Technology.
Cristina Navarro is an Associate Professor of communication at Gulf University for Science and Technology in Kuwait. Her research interests include online public relations, social media communication, professionalism leadership and PR competencies, knowledge and skills.