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Here’s a link to a short post on ictQATAR’s Digital Qatar website highlighting 10 key social media developments from the Middle East last year. Accompanying this I also wrote a recent article for the BBC College of Journalism website on some of these key digital developments. Of these, the rise of Arabic usage on Facebook is probably the most noteworthy, but there’s plenty to take stock of.
Our Top 10 Social Media Developments In MENA
by Damian Radclife · February 18, 2013
If you’re on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter – and I suspect most Digital Qatar readers are – then it’s easy to forget that actually you’re in a minority. Most other people in the region aren’t on social networks, but they are joining – and engaging – in ever increasing numbers. For example, 36,000 new people in Arabia join Facebook every day. That’s over 250,000 people a week, or a million a month. Yikes!
Below I’ve captured some of the key social media developments from across the region during the last 12 months.
If you haven’t got time to read the whole deck, here’s 10 developments to note.
- The social network hit 1 billion users last year. Of this only 4% – some 44m users – come from the MENA, suggesting plenty of scope for further growth, given that the World Bank estimates the regional population as being 300m people. Research by Pew, for example, notes that 63% of people in Egypt don’t have the Internet, along with 65% in Jordan and 51% in Lebanon. This is a large – currently untapped – potential online population.
- Facebook skews male. Across the region 65% of users are men. 35% are female.
- Facebook’s Arabic interface has outstripped the site’s overall growth in the region by nearly double, reaching 160% year-on-year growth by May 2011. This is compared with overall subscriber growth of 87%. As a result, there are now more Facebook Arabic users in the MENA today than there were total Facebook users in the region two years ago.
- There are now 17 million tweets every day in Arabic. That is 1 billion tweets every two months. 1 out of 4 of these tweets are written in Arabizi the slang/alphabet used to communicate in the Arabic language over the Internet.
- Saudi Arabia is Twitter’s fastest-growing market, anywhere in the world, percentage-wise month on month, and it already has more Twitter users than any other country in the region. 40% of all Arabic tweets, half of Wikipedia’s Arabic content and 35% of all Arabic content on the web comes from Saudi Arabia.
- Part of this growth was stimulated by Twitter offering its mobile Web site in Arabic and Farsi. This was made possible earlier in the year by work done by a community of translators.
- Of the 150m LinkedIn members across the globe, 5.8m are in the Middle East. In contrast to Facebook, the gender skew is much less pronounced on this network – with 58% of members male, 42% female.
- This represents 3.8% of LinkedIn’s total members –not much different to the % of global Facebook users (4%) found in the region. Both networks opened their first offices in the region last year in recognition of the potential for growth.
- A third of LinkedIn members in the region work in High-tech or Manufacturing roles, with 12% working in engineering roles and another 10% in operations.
What are they talking about?
MENA social media users are much more likely to talk about politics, community issues and religion online than in other parts of the world. Does this chime with your own experience of these networks? What are your predictions for 2013?
I think Instagram is going to become even bigger in the region, but that’s another story for another time…in the meantime, browse through the slides below (see here) and let us know what excites you.