Social media usage in the Middle East

Updated 29 February 2016

Social media usage in the Middle East

Damian Radcliffe, a journalism professor at the University of Oregon, issued his fourth annual report titled “The story of 2015” discussing the social media in the Middle East.

As expected, the region is scoring high penetration rates in social media. According to the report, there are more than 41 million active users in the region. Needless to say, the young, tech-savvy generation available in the region is the main reason driving these high rates of social media consumption.
Although the whole region is witnessing a boom in the new media usage, there are still some differences in the platforms’ preferences and usage across the Middle East, especially between the Gulf countries and North Africa.
For instance, the leading platform in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and Lebanon is none other than the messaging service WhatsApp.
In percentage, WhatsApp is used by more than 94 percent of the social media active users in the Kingdom, while used by virtually all those active on social media in the UAE. In general, 41 percent of the social media users in the region are using WhatsApp.
However, the platform that is leading the race in the region as a whole is Facebook. Egypt constitutes the largest fan-base of the platform at 27 million active users, while there are 12 million users in Saudi Arabia, and 11 million in Iraq. In the region as a whole, 87 percent of the social media active users have a presence on Facebook, with 84 percent of them accessing the platform from their mobile devices, and 89 percent of them on a daily basis.
When it comes to Twitter, Saudi Arabia and UAE are on top with 53 percent and 51 percent active users in these countries, respectively, using the platform. The lowest usage across the region comes in Libya and Syria, with 12 percent and 14 percent respectively. Interestingly, the study states that 45 percent of those using Twitter age between 18 and 24, while 25 percent only of them are aged 45 or above. However, it is good to notice that Saudi Arabia is having the largest number of users of the platform, it is scoring low in daily usage, which could hint that Saudis are moving away from the platform toward its competitors like Instagram and Snapchat.
Snapchat has recorded the highest annual growth, jumping from 3 percent to 12 percent in the region. The live stories the platform features on Makkah, Riyadh and Dubai secured its popularity in the region and turned it into a new platform of choice for many social media influencers.
The rest of the report discusses the behavior of the region’s consumers in the field of entrainment and news consumption, shedding more light and emphasizing on the fact that social media platforms became a very important and sometimes sensitive areas of interest in any attempt to analyze and understand the region.


Saudi Arabia, Google partner in plan to ‘level-up’ Mideast

Lino Cattaruzzi, managing director for Google in MENA. (Supplied)
Updated 18 October 2020

Saudi Arabia, Google partner in plan to ‘level-up’ Mideast

  • The program includes cloud training for local businesses, as well as workshops on advanced digital skills, such as a machine learning platform that will teach about 140,000 developers with a focus on women

DUBAI: Several Saudi ministries have teamed up with tech giant Google to launch a set of projects aimed at helping the Kingdom’s economic strategy and digital transformation.

Google said the initiatives will focus on Saudi Arabia and the MENA region and will boost economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic. The program, named “Grow stronger with Google,” will include a comprehensive list of digital tools, grants and training opportunities to support local businesses and job seekers across the region. In the Kingdom, Google will target the retail, tourism and technology sectors, including Saudi Post, which will list 100,000 local entities on the company’s digital platform and train employees in online marketing.
“We are proud to partner with Google in this initiative to bring value to Saudi nationals, residents and local businesses, especially SMEs through bringing them together using the Google ‘My Business’ platform,” said President of the Saudi Post Anef Abanomi.
“Through this partnership we aim to list up to 100,000 businesses in the first phase in line with Saudi Post’s strategic transformation objectives to improve quality of life and help SMEs achieve their e-commerce and digitization goals,” he added.
Lino Cattaruzzi, managing director for Google in MENA, said in a press release: “During the pandemic, online tools have been a lifeline for many in Saudi Arabia. Making the most of the online opportunity can help Saudi people, businesses and communities and in the wider region bounce back stronger.” He said the program will equip businesses and individuals in the Kingdom with digital skills, especially in sectors that have been most affected by the pandemic, such as retail and tourism.

HIGHLIGHT

In the Kingdom, Google will target the retail, tourism and technology sectors, including Saudi Post, which will list 100,000 local entities on the company’s digital platform and train employees in online marketing.

The tech giant has also partnered with several Saudi bodies — including the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Ministry of Tourism — to implement the programs. One project is set to train 50,000 students and businesses in digital marketing.
“We remain fundamentally optimistic about the future of this region, and we’re confident that by working together with local partners, we can boost recovery and build on the rapid acceleration of tech adoption we’ve seen during the crisis,” Cattaruzzi said.
The program also includes cloud training for local businesses, as well as workshops on advanced digital skills, such as a machine learning platform that will teach about 140,000 developers with a focus on women.
Google said it wants to help 1 million people and businesses throughout the MENA region learn digital skills and grow businesses by the end of 2021.