Background/Objectives: The digital divide, which separates those with and without access to web resources, is a significant concern, given the explosion of resources available via the web. However research carried out in the US demonstrates that access alone does not eliminate the digital divide; rather, users must have a relatively high level of digital literacy to effectively use web resources. The need to understand, measure, and potentially improve local levels of digital literacy is crucial for countries like Qatar that have already spent a great deal of effort to expand access to the internet and have as a goal to "universalize access to social services and to create a knowledge-based online society" (Al-Jaber & Dutta, citing ictQATAR's goals, 2008). Accordingly the objective of this study is to provide an initial assessment of internet digital literacy in monolingual and bilingual native speakers of Arabic and English in Qatar. Methods: The research utilizes observational methods established in Hargittai's digital literacy research. Data collection consisted of a 90 minute session of a pre-questionnaire, an observational session where the respondents perform internet searching tasks and finally a post-questionnaire. We will analyze the level of digital literacy by measuring both the ability of the searchers to successfully complete the tasks as well their efficiency in doing so. We will correlate the results with demographic variables to determine if there are differences in digital literacy levels in Qatari/non-Qatari, Arabic vs. English and bilingual vs. monolinguals etc. Results: We are in the process of data collection. We expect our results will be particularly useful to ictQATAR in their policy decision-making. Knowing what levels of digital literacy exist in the Arabic subpopulations in Doha, especially Qataris, will help them design effective web-based tools. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate Arabic users' and bilinguals' web searching strategies using observational methods. The results should not only aid local decision makers such as ictQATAR but also provide a groundbreaking source of information for scholars of the Internet and digital literacy, allowing the development of more effective educational interventions.


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