Walid Al-Saqaf

Walid Al-Saqaf

Associate Professor

Senior Lecturer

Journalism, media technology and Internet studies with a focus on data journalism, digital verification and fact checking, disinformation, blockchain

+46 8 608 51 97 +4686085197

Social Sciences


With a B.Sc. in computer engineering and a PhD in media and communications, Assoc. Prof. Walid Al-Saqaf has been involved in interdisciplinary academic research combining technology, media and journalism aspects. He currently pursues research in areas around blockchain technology, fact-checking, data verficiation, analysis and visualisation as well as journalism and media technology at large.

Before moving to Södertörn University, Al-Saqaf was a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Media and Communications of Stockholm University where he was part of the MeCoDEM External link. project. For MeCoDEM, Al-Saqaf developed Mecodify External link. as an open-source web service application to extract, analyse and aggregate, and visualise Twitter data using multiple APIs. Mecodify has been used by researchers, journalists among others to extract, analyze and visualize Twitter data and was showcased as one of the resources available to journalists and scholars on the Data Driven Journalism project of the European Journalism Centre. Al-Saqaf also dealt with and taught in areas related to media technology in different capacities such as web design, data analysis and database journalism.

During 2010-2014, Al-Saqaf built a strong teaching and research portfolio through his work as a lecture and academic director of the Master of Global Journalism programme at Örebro University External link., where he pursued his M.A. and PhD studies. As part of his doctoral dissertation, Al-Saqaf studied Internet censorship and censorship circumvention technology globally and during the Arab Spring. He had been involved in research as well as activism to combat Internet censorship mainly through Alkasir, which is a solution he created to map and circumvention web censorship. The tool was widely used during the Arab Spring to map and circumvent website censorship around the world.

Before pursuing his higher studies, Al-Saqaf worked as a journalist for over eight years during which he also had a role as a senior reporter for the Wall Street Journal Washington, DC bureau, where he spent six months and wrote several stories.

Beyond research, Al-Saqafs interests focus on non-commercial use of ICTs and its impact on democracy and promotion of development. As a member of the global technical community, he is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society External link. (ISOC) and is Vice President of the ISOC Blockchain Special Interest Group External link..

Below is further information about Al-Saqafs work and background.

Academic publications

  • Al-Saqaf, W. (2022). How to Extract and Analyze Twitter Data Using Mecodify. SAGE Publications, Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781529610871
  • Al-Saqaf, W. (2022). How to Extract and Analyze Twitter Data for Social Science Research. SAGE Publications, Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781529608700
  • Al-Saqaf, W., & Berglez, P. (2022). Analysing Twitter Discourse on Extreme Events and Climate Change Using Quantitative Research Methods and Applying Theoretical Interpretations. SAGE Publications, Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781529601107
  • Turunen, J., Werther, S., & Al-Saqaf, W. (2022). Performing control in the Swedish Twitter sphere or: How a 1920s’ Russian linguist helps us understand dynamics of digital authority. Frontiers in Political Science, 4. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpos.2022.946985 External link.
  • Picha Edwardsson, M., & Al-Saqaf, W. (2022). Drivers and Barriers for Using Blockchain Technology to Create a Global Fact-Checking Database. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 12(4), e202228.
  • Picha Edwardsson, M., & Al-Saqaf, W., & Nygren, G. (2021). Verification of Digital Sources in Swedish Newsrooms—A Technical Issue or a Question of Newsroom Culture?. Journalism Practice, 1-18.
  • Al-Saqaf, W., & Berglez, P. (2019). How do social media users link different types of extreme events to climate change? A study of Twitter during 2008–2017. Journal of Extreme Events, 6(02), 1950002.
  • Al-Saqaf, W., & Picha Edwardsson, M. (2019). Could blockchain save journalism? : An explorative study of blockchain’s potential to make journalism a more sustainable business. In Blockchain and Web 3.0 : Social, Economic, and Technological Challenges (1st ed., pp. 97–113). Abingdon, UK: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429029530 External link.
  • Al-Saqaf, W., & Christian, C. (2019). Tweeting in Precarious Times: Comparing Twitter Use During the 2013 General Election in Kenya and the 2012 Presidential Election in Egypt. In Media, Communication and the Struggle for Democratic Change: Case Studies on Contested Transitions (pp. 133–157). Cham: Springer Publishing Company.
  • Al-Saqaf, W., & Seidler, N. (2017). Blockchain technology for social impact: opportunities and challenges ahead. Journal of Cyber Policy, 1-17. Chicago: Routledge
  • Al-Saqaf, W., & Seidler, N. (2017). Blockchain technology for social impact: opportunities and challenges ahead. Journal of Cyber Policy, 1-17. Chicago: Routledge
  • Al-Saqaf, W and Christensen, C (2017) Media Conflict and Democratisation: Mainstream Media Power and Lost Orphans: The formation of Twitter networks in times of conflict. Working Paper. MeCoDEM . ISSN 2057-4002 (Unpublished)
    Al-Saqaf, Walid (2016) “The Internet is Weakening Authoritarian States’ Information Control. Syria as a case study” in Ulla Carlsson (ed.). Freedom of Expression and Media in Transition: Studies and Reflections in the Digital Age. Gothenburg: NORDICOM (2016)
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2016) Internet Censorship Circumvention Tools: Escaping the Control of the Syrian Regime. Media and Communication, 4(1), 39-50. Available at: http://www.cogitatiopress.com/ojs/index.php/mediaandcommunication/article/download/357/357
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2014) Yemen: a country in transition with its share of cyber challenges, Global Information Society Watch 2014: Communication surveillance in the digital age, 276-279.
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2014) Breaking Digital Firewalls. Analyzing Internet Censorship and Circumvention in the Arab World. Örebro Studies in Media and Communication 14. Örebro: Örebro University. Available at: http://oru.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:710477
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2012), "Circumventing Internet Censorship in the Arab World" in Diamond, Larry; & Plattner, Marc (eds.) Liberation technology: Social media and the struggle for democracy Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 124-138.
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2011) "Internet censorship and the lost cause of online political freedom" Paper presented at the Second International Conference on Democracy as Idea and Practice, University of Oslo, Norway.
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2011) "Political website censorship: a predominantly Arab phenomenon" Paper presented in Arabic language at the Internet and Freedom of Expression in the Arab World, ANHRI, Cairo, Egypt.
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2010) “Internet censorship challenged: How circumvention technologies can effectively outwit government attempts to filter content. Alkasir: a case study” SPIDER ICT4D Series 2010:3 pp. 71-93
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2010) Aid Missions Gone Astray - Reporters Notebook: Yemen, Global Integrity Report, 2010 [WWW] http://www.globalintegrity.org/report/Yemen/2010/notebook Last accessed 21, Jan 2012
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2009) “Internet: A Challenge to Arab Regimes Control of Information” in Kierulf, Anine; Ronning, Helge, Freedom of Speech Abridged, Gothenburg: NORDICOM (2009)
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2008) Empowering Citizens through the Web in Rudebeck, Lars; Hellstrom, Johan; Melin, Mia (Eds.), Big Brother and Empowered Sisters: The Role of New Communication Technologies in Democratic Processes, Uppsala: Collegium for Development Studies (2008)
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2008) Reporters Notebook: Yemen, Global Integrity Report, 2008 [WWW] http://report.globalintegrity.org/Yemen/2008/notebook Last accessed on 21, Jan 2012)
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2008) The Impact, Role, and Ideology of Yemeni News Websites. Master dissertation, Örebro, Sweden: Örebro University (2008)
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2007) Media Sustainability Index - Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE Chapters, Washington, DC: IREX
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2006) Reporters Notebook: Yemen, Global Integrity Report, 2006 [WWW] http://back.globalintegrity.org/reports/2006/yemen/notebook.cfm Last accessed on 21, Jan 2012)
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2006) Media Sustainability Index - Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the UAE Chapters, Washington, DC: IREX

Non-academic publications

  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2016) Why an Open Internet Matters. Internet Society’s Public Policy Blog.30 March 2016. Available at: https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/public-policy/2016/03/why-open-internet-matters
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2012) Censory overload: How a reluctant journalist used his software skills to aid the Arab Spring. Columbia Journalism Review (May/June 2012)
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2013) The Internet as a Catalyst for Change in Yemen, Global Voices Online, November 25, 2013 [WWW] https://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2013/11/25/the-internet-catalyst-for-change-development-ict4d-transparency-in-yemen/, Last accessed September 21, 2013
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2013) Only dialogue can facilitate a truly open web, Gulf News, September 16, 2013 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/business/opinion/only-dialogue-can-facilitate-a-truly-open-web-1.1231676, Last accessed September 21, 2013
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2013) Can Yemen Transition Model Survive, Gulf News, August 18, 2013 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/can-yemen-transition-model-survive-1.1221764 , Last accessed September 5, 2013
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2012) Open data vital for a new Yemen: How open governments can build on the Arab Spring to deliver true freedom, The Guardian, April 13, 2012 [WWW] http://www.guardian.co.uk/public-leaders-network/2012/apr/13/open-data-vital-for-yemen Last accessed on April 20, 2012
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2011) No hope of foreign help, Gulf News, September 24, 2011 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/no-hope-of-foreign-help-1.873848 Last accessed on Jan 5, 2012
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2010) Yemen: Al Qaida isnt the only problem, Gulf News, January 2, 2010 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/yemen-al-qaida-isn-t-the-only-problem-1.560810 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2009) Yemen must find a solution, Gulf News, September 24, 2009 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/yemen-must-find-a-solution-1.540640 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2009) There is no easy way out for Yemen, Gulf News, June 6, 2009 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/there-is-no-easy-way-out-for-yemen-1.2419 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2007) Whats the good news in Iraq?, Gulf News, November 30, 2007 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/what-s-the-good-news-in-iraq-1.214549 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2007) GCC needs a defense shield, Gulf News, November 20, 2007 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/gcc-needs-a-defence-shield-1.213140 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2007) Sinking with the dollar, Gulf News, November 9, 2007 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/sinking-with-the-dollar-1.211868 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2007) Triumph for Saudi-UK diplomacy, Gulf News, November 2, 2007 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/triumph-for-saudi-uk-diplomacy-1.210800 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2007) New vote, same council, Gulf News, October 25, 2007 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/new-vote-same-council-1.207879 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2007) A failed Yemen is bad for GCC, Gulf News, October 6, 2007 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/a-failed-yemen-is-bad-for-gcc-1.205489 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2007) How to stop illegal aliens, Gulf News, November 28, 2007 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/how-to-stop-illegal-aliens-1.202574 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2007) Handicap of GCC Internet sector, Gulf News, September 18, 2007 [WWW] http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/handicap-of-gcc-internet-sector-1.201269 Last accessed on 5th Oct 2011
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2005) Mideast Free-Trade Plan Inches Forward Fighting Resistance, The Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2005
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2005) Yemeni female scholar achieves excellence in the U.S. , The Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2005
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2005) Muslim Activist Wages Gender Jihad, The Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2005
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2005) World Bank Aims For Big Impact In Small Projects, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2005
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2005) Newsweek Has Arabic Edition Challenge, The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2005
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2005) Bush Team Launches New Hawala Crackdown, The Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2005
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2005) Global Growth to Slow Amid High Oil Prices, The Wall Street Journal, Apr 13, 2005
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid (2005) Global Growth to Slow Amid High Oil Prices, The Wall Street Journal, Apr 13, 2005
  • Al-Saqaf, Walid & Herrick, Thaddeus (2005) Gasoline Prices Are Forecast To Keep Rising, The Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2005
  • Al-Saqaf had also written over 500 articles for Yemen Times during (1999-2005)

Earlier projects:

Areas of expertise

  • Research and teaching in digital journalism with a focus on data mining, analysis and visualization
  • SPSS usage for statistical analysis and coding in R language (for data analysis queries)
  • Research and teaching in online investigative journalism, journalism and new media technologies
  • Software development and research in big data analysis, data-driven research, data mining, social media analysis, data visualization, network analysis and web applications
  • Promotion of open Internet access through research and software development
  • Research and promotion of web access conditions through APC and the Web Foundation
  • Directing projects related to media, technology, civil society and human rights
  • Developing and using digital tools for dynamic and deep web data extraction, data mining, sorting and storing, API and plug-in development.
  • Information communication technology, software development using several languages (PHP, Python, R, C, C++, C#, MS Visual Studio, Java, Perl, CSS, HTML, CMS, Web design, Linux server management, etc.)


Relevant links about my work from other sources

Link to my twitter External link, opens in new window.

DiVA (Digitala Vetenskapliga Arkivet) is Södertörn University's system for digital publishing and for registering publications produced by researchers, teachers and students.


The researcher is not participating in any projects at this moment.