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Saudis on Social: Faith, Freedom and Fun

BBC Trending
#SaudisOnSocial: a special series


People in Saudi Arabia love social media, and that's an understatement. The country is the region's largest social media market. And Saudis are keen "early adopters" of new social platforms.

But what is driving these masses of Saudis onto social platforms? And what do they do with all the hours they spend online? In a special series titled: "Saudis on Social" BBC Trending and BBC Monitoring explore three themes: Faith, Freedom and Fun that are most common online in the kingdom. You can find your way to the entire series of videos, articles and a quiz, through the links in this article.

Over the last couple of years BBC Trending has covered many stories and hashtags that have trended in Saudi Arabia (you can also find a list of some of the stories we covered at the bottom of the page). And one of the things we noticed is that the level of engagement on online stories, especially on Twitter, surpasses any other Arab country.

That probably has something to do with the fact that 75 per cent of the Saudi population is under the age of 30 and have very limited spaces for entertainment and FUN. With no cinemas and theatres young people flock to YouTube and get their kicks from the new stars of Saudi, the online comedians.

But it's not just young Saudis who are prolific social media users and it's not all about entertainment. Some of the most followed accounts on Twitter and Facebook belong to Muslim preachers including the man known as the "Brad Pitt" of Islamic clerics. They too have immense influence online and FAITH is a big part of the online conversation.

The enforcement of Saudi's strict Islamic laws is the job of the 'religious police' - a term used to describe the officers or 'mutaween' employed by the country's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Their activities are often controversial and you can find out more about what they do in our quiz which uses social media video of real life incidents to ask what happened next.

And when it comes to FREEDOM, many Saudis seek it online where restrictions are harder to implement. We tell the stories of three anonymous accounts on Twitter which all tell of searching for virtual freedom in Saudi Arabia. Whether it's "Hussein" the Shia Muslim, "Youssef" the young transsexual or "Mazen" the blind atheist, they all reveal what it's like to be different in some way in this highly conservative kingdom.

In this series we also explore what WOMEN have to say about their own freedoms in the kingdom.

To follow and join the conversation about life in Saudi Arabia, search for the hashtag #SaudisOnSocial.

Some of the stories that trended in Saudi Arabia:

Related Topics

  • Islam
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Social media