Digital Modernity, Gulf Style

Gulf Futurism invests (literally) an outlandish belief in mega infrastructure projects to catapult it to a future as as advanced as South Korea or Japan. Modernity in the Gulf appropriates modern technology while rooting it in a traditional anchor of family values. Oil wealth has accelerated the tech curve with high disposable incomes. Everyone has the latest gadget in town, never mind the expensive data rates and having restrictions on the most popular VOIP software in the world. Ofcourse, the tech savvy with a decent risk appetite have VPN to bypass the telecom regulator. Digital has propagated a sub culture of non conformists globally, and the gulf is not an exception.

In this conservative space, digital technology offers a ‘second life’, with Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram presenting opportunities to socialise. Folks are plugged in to their phones all the time, to the extent of obsession. A separate existence is lived online.

People consume entertainment on the phone, via Watsapp forwards, evolving into the community grapevine on groups.

Blue Collar Migrants from South Asia have a program on their phones to unscramble Wifi passwords and ‘share’ data from better off cousins. Technology is socially constructed, as can observed as it takes shape around incumbent community values, all over the world.


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