The Dubai School of Government havs released its second issue on Arab Social Media, shedding light on some much needed statistics when it comes to Arab users on Twitter. The latest study looks at the impact of Facebook and Twitter on civil movements in the region.
Egypt’s penetration level on Facebook is very low, with only just 5% of the population on Facebook, which adds an interesting dimension to the debated role of Facebook in the country’s uprising. That 5% does however translate into almost 7 million users, which accounts for almost a quarter of all Facebook users in the region.
It’s interesting to see that the number of women on Facebook has increased slightly as 2011 has progressed, but still in comparison to the rest of the world, the Middle East lags behind, with women accounting only 33.5% of users, compared with 61% around the world.
There isn’t a single Middle Eastern country where women outnumber men on Facebook. The closest women come is in Lebanon with 45% of users being women. Further down the spectrum, Somalia and Yemen are trailing with less than 20% each. This is in stark comparison to the rest of the world where women are pretty much at a 1:1 ratio with men as Facebook users.
Most of the Facebook statistics featured in the report mirror January’s report. In Somalia, Palestine and Morocco, most Facebook users’ ages range from 15 to 29, whereas UAE and Qatar have a much more balanced ration between the 15-29 age group and those over 30.
The latest report also features some new interesting facts on which language Facebook users prefer to use. In Yemen, the overwhelming majority prefer Arabic, Egypt sits in the middle with an almost equal ratio for English and Arabic, while Tunisia 92% prefer French.
The Middle East’s Twitter twitter usage is minuscule in comparison to Facebook, with only just over 130,000 Egyptians tweeting, which is a far cry from the millions on Facebook. Turkey, the UAE and Qatar come out at the top of the Twitter list, but even then, the highest figure is only just over 200,000 people. The total number of Twitter users in the Middle East is estimated to be about 6.5 million people, a figure lower than Egypt’s Facebook users alone. As far as penetration is concerned, Qatar is at the top of the list with 7.8% of the population on Twitter.
When it comes to actual Twitter use it’s interesting to see the dominant trending hashtags, are not surprisingly, #Jan25, #egypt, #libya and #bahrain. It’s also interesting to see how Twitter use in the region spikes during or around certain events. Egypt’s highest volume of tweets came in early February with former president, Hosny Mubarak stepping down. Saudi Arabia saw a spike in tweets nearing the planned March 20th protests.
These statistics bring us one step closer to understanding the role of social media in the uprisings throughout the region. The report comes to the conclusion, that while it is still debatable, there is empirical evidence that social media growth has played a critical role in influencing change.
The entire report can be downloaded here.