UAE tops Facebook accounts in Arab World

Around 45 per cent of UAE residents own a Facebook account, ranking it the highest in the Arab World and among top 10 worldwide.
 
According to the inaugural Arab Social Media Report (ASMR), prepared by the researchers at Dubai School of Government, social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will continue to play a critical role in organising social and civil movements in the Arab world, especially among the youth.
 
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 per cent of the Facebook community in the Arab region belonging to this demographic and driving its growth.

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 mobilising civil movements in the Arab world. It is no coincidence that Tunis has witnessed an eight per cent 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."

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 $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."
 

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