Qatar election campaigns heat up on social media

Qatar election campaigns heat up on social media ahead of vote
2 min read
24 September, 2021
While billboards and banners fill streets around Doha and beyond, some candidates have preferred to take to social media to push their campaigns, as the hashtag 'Qatari Shura Council Election' has been trending on Twitter.
The elections, scheduled for Oct. 2, are the first to be held in Qatar [AFP/Getty]

Electoral campaigns in Qatar are heating up on the streets as well as on social media, as the tiny Gulf emirate prepares for its first ever legislative elections scheduled for next week.

While billboards and banners fill streets around Doha and beyond, some candidates have preferred to take to social media to push their campaigns, as the hashtag 'Qatari Shura Council Election' has been trending on Twitter.

Offers are even being made to candidates by local newspapers to convince them to promote their election campaigns in their publications, on their websites and their social media pages.

About 30 percent of total candidates so far have resorted to this tactic.

The offers include publishing news on the candidate, giving press coverage, advertisements, content creation, managing social media accounts and more. Prices for these services have ranged between 150,000 to 500,000 Qatari riyals for just over two weeks, the duration of the election campaign.

While no official statistics for social media users are available in Qatar, it’s believed that more than 50 percent of the roughly 2.8 million people living in the country have accounts on various social media platforms. Snapchat is at the forefront among the younger demographic.

Qataris will elect 30 members of the 45-seat body on 2 October, while Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will continue to appoint the remaining 15 members.

The Council will have legislative authority and approve general state policies and the budget. It will also exercise control over the executive, except for bodies setting defence, security, economic and investment policy.

The October polls have sparked debate on electoral inclusion after some members of the Al Mullah tribe found themselves ineligible to vote under a law restricting voting to Qataris whose family were present in the country before 1930.

A small but wealthy gas producer which already holds municipal polls, Qatar bans political parties like other Gulf Arab countries.

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