Social media popularity growing in Arab World

Print media is still a preferred news vehicle, but internet is catching up fast. (ASHOK VERMA)

The third Arab Media Outlook, expected to be unveiled in February, has shown a fast growing popularity of social media in the Arab World, said Maryam Bin Fahad, Executive Director, Dubai Press Club.

According to the report titled "Third Arab Media Outlook 2009-2013: Inspiring Local Content", 70 per cent of the people in the four markets researched using social networking websites in some capacity and about 15 per cent visiting these sites at least a day.

Although print media is still the dominant source of news for most people, said the report, online news consumption is gaining ground with 22 per cent to 34 per cent of the people using internet at least as much as print media to read news. "This, coupled with the extent of the influence that increasing broadband penetration and use of social media wield on consumer preferences, is a clear indicator of the direction in which the media consumption in the region is headed", said Bin Fahad.

Dubai Press Club, who has been publishing the annual reports since 2007, said this year's would by far be the most comprehensive reporting on the state of the media in the Arab World and future projections for the next five years.

The new edition, which was to be released in January, promises to provide an extensive analysis of the media scene across the different platforms, a country-by-country assessment of the media in 15 Arab countries, from 12 countries last year. Unlike the previous year, when the analysis of the data was gathered through the DPC network by PriceWaterHouseCoopers, a company called Value Partners puts this year's edition of the report together.

Bin Fahad, said: "The Arab Media Outlook this year also includes for the first time the results of extensive market research in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon on the changing dynamics of media consumption.

"The new outlook is based on a rich corpus of data gleaned from elaborate interviews with around 130 prominent media organisations across all platforms from all covered markets including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen."

Bin Fahad noted the fact that the report is coming out one year and a half after the global financial crisis has hit the Arab region, giving the required time to reflect on the impact of the crisis on the region's media industry, as compared to the previous edition which came out almost at the time of the onset of the crisis.

Bin Fahad added: "According to the report, 59 per cent of the stakeholders interviewed remained optimistic regarding the prospects of the media industry in the region in 2010 in spite of the unsettling effects of the crisis.

"Corresponding to this optimism are the findings on local content consumption from the market research, which showed that over 60 per cent of the respondents in the region prefer to browse Arabic websites and 80 per cent prefer to watch TV in Arabic, belying fears of the invasion of foreign media in the Arab countries," said Bin Fahad.

The percentage of people preferring to consume locally produced content from their own countries was much higher in countries where extensive Arabic content is produced such as Egypt and Lebanon. "In Egypt 63 per cent of consumers said they preferred internet content specific to and from their own country to generalised content from other Arabic countries and beyond," said Bin Fahad.

 

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