UAE. The use of social media continues to grow rapidly and influence cultural and societal changes in the Arab world. The number of Facebook users in the Arab world reached 45.2 million at the end of June 2012, marking an annual increase of 50% and tripling since June 2010 while Twitter has registered over two million active users in the region.
Additionally, more than four million Arabs use LinkedIn according to the latest Arab Social Media Report (ASMR).
Produced by the Dubai School of Government’s Governance and Innovation Program, the fourth edition of the Arab Social Media Report analyzes demographic breakdowns and usage trends of social media across the Arab region.
In addition to exploring the changing behavior of Arab social media users towards civic empowerment and societal engagement, the report examines their views on community and identity. For the first time, the fourth edition of ASMR also gathered statistics on the usage of LinkedIn, the professional social networking platform.
Interestingly, the report reveals that the Arabic language is now the fastest growing on different social media platforms in the region.
Fadi Salem, Director of Governance and Innovation Program, DSG and co-author of the report, said: “Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube continue to serve as primary avenues for over 12 per cent of Arab population for raising awareness, disseminating information and mobilizing community.
“The increased use of Arabic suggests that social media in the Arab region has clearly outgrown the perception of being a platform for ‘the elite’. Notably, it has now become a tool for the masses for engaging in civil activities and influencing change in Arab societies.”
The report found that Arab social media users’ connection with, understanding of, and contribution to their societies and fellow citizens has enhanced through the use of social media.
Racha Mourtada, Research Associate with the Governance and Innovation Program and lead author of the report, said: “Most respondents thought that their ‘national’ identity and a sense of being a ‘global citizen’ were reinforced by social media. On an even more personal level, many among those surveyed claim that social media and its ability to expose people to a variety of ideas and opinions, has helped them become more open and tolerant towards different views.”
Among other findings in the report, the Arab uprisings continue to be the primary discussions on Twitter. For instance, in March 2012, active Arab Twitter users generated over 172 million tweets, with ‘Bahrain’ and ‘Syria’ hashtags in Arabic and English remaining the top popular trends on Twitter across the Arab region.
Furthermore, around a quarter of Arab Facebook users come from Egypt and another quarter are in the GCC countries with Saudi Arabia and the UAE making up 80 per cent of users in the Gulf region.
The Arab Social Media Report series is part of a larger research initiative focusing on social engagement through gathering information on social networking technologies for better policy, good governance and social inclusion in Arab states.
The initiative specifically aims to study the potential of the platform for increasing collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation by fostering participation, whether within and/or between governments, citizens and the private sector.
Established in 2005 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, the Dubai School of Government is committed to the creation of knowledge and dissemination of global best practices in the UAE and the region. The school conducts various programs that seek to enhance the region's capacity for effective public policies.
The full report can be accessed at www.arabsocialmediareport.com
About the Dubai School of Government
The Dubai School of Government (DSG) is a research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the UAE and the region. Established in 2005 under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, DSG aims to promote good governance through enhancing the institutional capacity for effective public policy.
Toward this goal, the Dubai School of Government also collaborates with regional and global institutions in delivering its research and training programs. In addition, the School organizes policy forums and international conferences to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promote critical debate on public policy.
For more information, please visit www.dsg.ae