Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Media, Art, and Text

First Advisor

Karen McIntyre

Second Advisor

Marcus Messner

Third Advisor

Hong Cheng

Fourth Advisor

Eric Garberson


Media influence our perceptions and opinions about the events around us. Social media, especially Twitter, play an increasingly important role in the Arab world. This quantitative study used a survey design within the framework of agenda-setting theory and uses and gratifications theory to examine how Saudis living in the U.S. (N = 938) perceived Twitter as influencing public opinion about national issues in Saudi Arabia. Social media were the most common way Saudis in the U.S. obtained news about national issues back home, with Twitter the preferred news source. The more time they spent on Twitter, the more they reportedly believed Twitter influenced public opinion on important issues. This suggested Twitter exposure influenced public opinion, an idea most participants agreed with. The importance of an issue was the most common motive to engage on social media, with defending and influencing Saudi national issues highly rated as well, although most participants reported they were unlikely to express opinions on Twitter about national issues in general. Half the participants saw the same narrative surrounding national issues when they returned to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Twitter users in the U.S. did not perceive the importance of Saudi national issues differently from nonusers. The findings have several theoretical and practical implications for the perceived influence of Twitter on Saudi public opinion regarding important national issues.


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Available for download on Friday, September 08, 2220