UAE Ranks among Global Top 10 and First in Arab World for Facebook Penetration
Dubai-UAE: 07 February, 2011- According to the inaugural Arab Social Media Report (ASMR), social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will continue to play a critical role in organizing social and civil movements in the Arab world, especially among the youth.
A team of researchers at the Governance and Innovation Program in Dubai School of Government has been monitoring the growth and usage trends of such tools in the Arab World in 2010. According to the Report, the penetration of social networking tools is soaring in the Arab world. The growth is highest among youth between the ages of 15 and 29, who make up around one-third of the total Arab population. The report states for example, that the total number of Facebook users in the Arab world has increased by 78 per cent, from 11.9 million in January 2010 to 21.3 million by December 2010, with 75 percent of the Facebook community in the Arab region belonging to this demographic and driving its growth.
The first in a series of reports, this edition of the Arab Social Media Report also showed that the UAE ranked first among Arab countries with 45 percent of its population owning Facebook accounts, in addition to being among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of Facebook penetration. While four GCC countries dominate the top five spots in the Arab world in terms of Facebook users as percentage of population, Lebanon was the only exception.
Fadi Salem, Fellow and Director of the Governance and Innovation Program at the Dubai School of Government said: “Events taking place in Tunisia and Egypt showcased the power of social media in mobilizing civil movements in the Arab world. It is no coincidence that Tunis has witnessed an 8 percent sudden surge in the number of Facebook users during the first two weeks of January 2011, coupled with a shift in the usage trend from merely social in nature into primarily political.
A critical mass of young Arab users has been reached in several Arab countries. With 225 million Arabs under the age of 30, this large part of the population is empowered today and is utilizing these platforms in every part of their lives.
Effectively, social networking technologies have rewired information flows in most Arab countries and boosted the reach and impact of information within societies and governments.”
The report is published by the Dubai School of Government, a leading research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the Arab world, as part of its Governance and Innovation Program. Using Facebook as a gauge of social media use in the region, it analyzes data on users of the social networking giant in the Middle East including the 22 Arab countries. The report compiled data over the past year, by age and gender, and correlated it with several factors, including digital access, gender gaps, youth population and Internet freedom.
Racha Mourtada, a Research Associate with the Program, said: “Social networking technologies have become a staple in people’s everyday lives, merging their online and offline existence, and becoming one of the main methods of social connection and interaction around the world, whether between individuals, with businesses or governments. The perception today is that these tools can potentially enhance citizen engagement in the Arab region, promote social inclusion and create opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship and development.”
Dr. Tarik Yousef, Dean of Dubai School of government, said: “The social networking business is becoming one of the fast emerging industries in the world interacting heavily with governments and societal forces. Facebook alone is a US$50-billion dollar company according to the report, while Twitter is worth an estimated US$3.7 billion. Hence, it is important to understand this emerging phenomena regularly.”
The Arab Social Media Report, available at ArabSocialMediaReport.com, aims to highlight and analyze usage trends of specific networking tools across the Arab world. It is part of a larger research initiative focusing on social engagement through information technologies for better policy in Arab states that explores the potential of social networking services for good governance, entrepreneurship and social inclusion. The initiative specifically aims to study the potential of such applications for increasing collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation by fostering participation, whether within and/or between governments, citizens and the private sector.
Established in 2005 in cooperation with the Harvard Kennedy School, the Dubai School of Government is committed to the creation of knowledge and dissemination of global best practices in the Arab world. The school conducts various programmes that seek to enhance the region's capacity for effective public policies.