Mohamed Zayani Explains How the Digital is Affecting Middle Eastern Societies in New Book “The Digital Double Bind”

Georgetown University in Qatar Professor Mohamed Zayani has published a new book titled The Digital Double Bind: Change and Stasis in the Middle East. The book, which is coauthored with Northwestern University in Qatar Professor Joe F. Khalil and published by Oxford University Press, is a landmark study of how the Middle East is acclimating to the promises and uncertainties of today’s fast-paced digital transformations.

The Digital Double Bind reconsiders the question of technology, development, and social change in the digital era. Moving beyond familiar accounts of the uniform trajectory of the network society, the book provides a roadmap for a critical engagement with the peculiarities of digitality in the Global South.

“The digital is profoundly affecting the pace and direction of development and social change, but each region experiences this transformation differently” noted Dr. Zayani. He added: “We wanted to understand how the digital is playing out in the Middle East and how the region is responding to momentous changes in information and communication technologies as they endeavor to reorient themselves towards the knowledge economy.”  

Informed by extensive field research and anchored in illustrative case studies, the book is the outcome of an interdisciplinary research inquiry, which takes the reader from the knowledge economy to the digital divide and from creative cultural industries to digital entrepreneurship.

Commenting on the broader significance of the book, Dr. Anthony Giddens, sociologist and Life Fellow of King’s College, noted: “this is an essential reading not only for those specializing in the Middle East, but for anyone concerned with the impact of the digital revolution more generally.”

“Zayani and Khalil’s conceptually ambitious review of media in the Middle East makes an important and much-needed contribution to debates on technology and regionalization generally,” said Nick Couldry, professor of communication and social theory at LSE. “This is a landmark study in the de-westernization of media research.”

The book is part of the Oxford Series in Digital Politics. Mohamed Zayani is the author of the award-winning book Networked Publics and Digital Contention, also published by Oxford University Press. Joe Khalil is the co-editor of the newly released Handbook of Media and Culture in the Middle East. Currently, the two are working on a grant-supported collaborative book project on how digitality is reconfiguring territoriality. For more on The Digital Double Bind, see