This is how the Gulf crisis played out online

A breakdown of the different social media reactions to the Qatar-GCC rift.

    Social media users vacillated between indignation, support and amusement [Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters]
    Social media users vacillated between indignation, support and amusement [Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters]

    The recent short-term suspension of Al Jazeera Arabic's Twitter account highlights the fact that a major part of the commentary, rumours and backlash surrounding the Gulf diplomatic crisis and the blockade on Qatar took place online.

    Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and a number of other countries in the region severed diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting "terrorism" and Iran. Qatar has continuously rejected the accusations.

    Here's a look back at the tweets, hashtags and Instagram drama that dominated the ongoing Gulf tensions.

    Attempting to dispel rumours

    Several Twitter users took on the role of good Samaritan, attempting to dispel rumours or fake news trickling onto social platforms.

    They pointed out fake Twitter accounts spreading false news and sent out general warnings to stay aware of the propaganda.

    This tweet warned against a false account spreading news of the Emir's father's death. 

    Sharing stories of hardships

    The consequences of the decision by Gulf and other Arab countries to cut ties with Qatar manifested on Twitter posts of Qataris stuck in Jeddah's airport, Qatari students forced to leave the UAE during exams, and families separated by borders.

    Humour

    For some, the Gulf rift has seemed ludicrous, at best. The Twittersphere has provided comic relief throughout the rising tensions.

    Translation: We didn't hear any of the boycotting nations say they would stop importing gas from Qatar. It's like a child who pretends to be mad at his dad but still takes school money from him. 

    The poll

    Infamously, Emirati academic Abdulkhaleq Abdulla decided to poll Twitter users on their thoughts regarding the situation.

    He asked: "What are your thoughts on boycotting and embargoing Qatar?"

    The options in the poll were: Strongly Agree, Strongly Disagree, and Neutral.

    But the poll appears to have backfired. It showed that 64 percent of voters were against the diplomatic rift. Abdulla quickly removed the tweet after Nasser al-Shaikh, a former Emirati government official advised him to do so. 

    "With all due respect to your character and intellect, I do not see that the contents of this poll are suitable, in light of the law criminalizing opposition to the state," al-Shaikh tweeted. 

    A Qatari Twitter user recorded the incident in an epigram. "Short story: The venerable professor uploaded an innocent survey, when out of nowhere he received guidance, so he listened, obeyed and deleted"

    Hashtags

    There were also several hashtags touting support for either side of the conflict.

    Hashtags in support of Qatar included phrases in Arabic such as, #قطر_تشفق_عليكم (Qatar feels sorry for you), #فيزا_عمرة_للقطريين (Umrah visa for Qataris) and #الشعب_الخليجى_يرفض_مقاطعة_قطر (people of the Gulf refuse to boycott Qatar).

    There were also several in support of Saudi Arabia, such as #نعم_ياسادة_هذي_هي_السعودية (Yes gentlemen, this is Saudi)

    A barrage of Instagram comments

    The fight also extended to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed's Instagram account.

    Qatari Twitter users allegedly hounded his posts with comments, forcing him to remove the comments section from his account. It remains blocked to this day.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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