Social Media in the Middle East: Facebook’s Mixed Year 

This is the second in a series of ten short extracts from my sixth annual round-up of social media trends from the Middle East and North Africa (written with University of Oregon student Amanda Lam). Social Media in the Middle East: The Story of 2017 is available for download from the University of Oregon Scholars’ Bank and on Scribd, SlideShare and Academia.edu.

  • Since 2012, Facebook has grown its MENA user base by 264%.

  • However, in some Middle East countries, Facebook usage has dropped substantially (-20%) since 2013, according to research from Northwestern University in Qatar (NUQ).
    • Reach among Arab Nationals was 94% in 2013, but 74% in 2017. Since 2015, among nationals, Facebook usership dropped from 76%-55% in Saudi Arabia, in UAE from 83%-70%, and Qatar from 43% to 22%, NUQ found.
Image: Facebook use among nationals. Source: Northwestern University in Qatar
  • Despite this decline in usage, Jonathan Labin, managing director of Facebook Middle East notes how users are engaging with a wider range of Facebook products.

    • NUQ’s data supports this highlighting a 400% growth in Facebook Messenger, and 40% growth in Instagram use, Arabian Business reported.
  • Egypt remains the MENA country with the biggest number of Facebook users: 17 million.

    • But, this is also the lowest population, based on percentage of users, at 30%.
  • In 2017, Facebook opened its new regional headquarters in Dubai (see image below). The social network opened its first office in the region back in 2012.
Image: Facebook’s new regional headquarters in Dubai. Source: Arabian Business

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