Saturday, June 9, 2012

Facebook Users in Arab Countries

This morning, I came across two infographics by Khaled El Ahmed (@Shusmo) depicting the penetration of the social networking platforms Facebook and Twitter in the Arab countries. The data used in these infographics were gathered from the Arab Social Media Report conducted by the Dubai School of Government. 

This particular study examines the demographics of Facebook usage within the frameworks of the growth rate of users, the gender breakdown, and how individual nations try to regulate access to platforms. In addition, the study considers factors such as income, youth population, and internet freedom. 

The study also looks into the future. What does a large number of young people using social networking platforms mean for cvic engagement, social reform, entrepreneurship, and innovation?

A few notes taken directly from the study:
  • On a global level, the UAE is the top Arab country in terms of Facebook penetration as percentage of the population. It is also among the top 10 in the world, with a Facebook penetration rate of 45%
  • GCC countries dominate the top five Arab FB users as percentage of population, with Lebanon being the only exception.
  • With around 4.7 million Facebook users, Egypt constitutes about 22% of total users in the Arab region.
  • Youth (between the ages of 15 and 29) make up 75% of Facebook users in the Arab region.
  • Gender breakdown of Facebook users indicates an average 2:1 ratio of male to female users in the Arab region, compared to almost 1:1 globally
  • Lebanon is the most gender-balanced of the Arab countries, followed closely by Bahrain, Jordan and Tunisia, while at the other end of the spectrum Facebook users in Somalia and Yemen are overwhelmingly male 
  • The UAE is the most balanced in terms of adult and youthful Facebook users, while countries such as Somalia, Palestine and Morocco have a predominantly youthful Facebook user population
  • Interestingly, a few Arab countries (Djibouti, Iraq) actually have more Facebook users than Internet users, indicating that many Facebook users in these countries rely on mobile access
  • Internet freedom does not seem to affect Facebook penetration in the Arab region. Some countries with lower scores (i.e., more pervasive filtering) have relatively high Facebook penetration. This could be due to the creativity of the youth population in finding ways to bypass filters and censors.

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