Facebook Use Soars in Arab World
The use of social networking tools is soaring in the Arab world, with Facebook notching up more than 21 million users by January 2011.
Young people aged between 15 and 29, who comprise around one-third of the total Arab population, lead the take-up of social media.
The figures come from the inaugural edition of the Arab Social Media Report, published on 7 February by the Dubai School of Government in the UAE, a research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the Arab world.
Using Facebook, "arguably one of the most popular social networking sites in the world", as a gauge of the popularity of social media in the region, the report analyzed data on users of the social networking giant across the Middle East, including the 22 Arab countries as well as Iran and Israel.
It found that in 2010 the total number of Facebook users in the Arab world surged ahead at a massive annual rate of 78%, from 11.9 million in January 2010 to 21.3 million by the end of the year, with 75% of users belonging to the 15- to 29-year-old demographic and driving its growth.
Breaking down Facebook users by gender, there is an average 2:1 ratio of male to female users in the Arab region, compared with almost 1:1 globally.
Egypt, with around 4.7 million Facebook users, accounts for about 22% of total Arab users. The UAE has the highest penetration rate in the Arab world, with more than 45% of the population having Facebook accounts.
In a few Arab countries, such as Iraq and Djibouti, more people use Facebook than the Internet, connecting to the former via mobile phones.
The report also compares penetration rates for the Internet and Facebook for each Arab country.Continued on the next page