Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the Changing Arab Information Order
This article explores the impact of Arab reality television on Arab governance. Reality television activates hypermedia space (Kraidy, 2006c), a broadly defined inter-media symbolic field, because its commercial logic promotes ostensibly participatory practices like voting, campaigning and alliance building via mobile telephones and the Internet. How does hypermedia space contribute to changing the ways in which Arab citizens and regimes access, use, create and control information? How do the new information dynamics affect the way citizens and governments relate to each other? To address these questions, this article focuses on recent social and political developments in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, treating the two countries as a dynamic pair whose multi-faceted interactions shape a pan-Arab hypermedia space. This article will endeavor to explain how various Saudi and Lebanese actors have appropriated the reality TV show Star Academy for social and political purposes, and how increased public awareness of the hypermedia space engendered by the program has affected the nature of governance in the two countries. This article concludes with a discussion of how hypermedia space contributes to shifts in the nature and boundaries of social and political agency.