Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Fol Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Follow her on Twitter, her site or Google+ or get in touch at [email protected]
We’ve already spotted at least three articles in the past 24 hours with the words ‘Google+’ and ‘Ghost Town’ in the title, since a report came out yesterday claiming that users only spend an average of 3 minutes per month on Google+. While we don’t agree with that analysis of Google+’s global impact for a variety of reasons, the Middle East has certainly lagged in terms of the social network’s usage.
According to FindPeopleonPlus, Iran is closing in on 100,000 users, Egypt has just over 60,000 users, the UAE is shy of 50,000, while Saudi Arabia comes in at 46,000 users. Jordan, Tunisia, Qatar, Kuwait, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon each have less than 15,000 users to their names.
Google is organising a hangout with Egyptian pop star, Amr Diab, which is sure to boost the social network’s visibility among Middle Eastern Internet users. While Amr Diab is one of the biggest selling artists in the Middle East, his following on Google+ comes in at just under 50,000 users.
The hangout itself will take place on March 9th, when nine fans will get to spend some time online with the singer, while he’s backstage before a concert in Dubai.
While Amr Diab is the first major celebrity in the Middle East to use Google+’s hangout feature, it certainly isn’t the first celebrity studded hangout to take place on the social network. From the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to David Beckham and President Obama, there is no limit to the ways in which Google+ has been giving people ways to connect with high profile users.
“We are thrilled that Amr Diab will be the first Google+ hangout from the Middle East region – he always knows how to connect with fans and this partnership with Google is just the beginning,” Najeeb Jarrar Google MENA Marketing said.
This isn’t the first time Google has partnered with local celebrities to boost the social network’s profile. Google and AKB48, an extremely popular band in Japan, are working together to boost the social network’s visibility in the country.
The partnership with Amr Diab could easily have a similar effect in the Middle East. Amr Diab is one of the region’s most popular pop singers and his YouTube channel has garnered over 29 million views. He has also earned himself something of an international following, having won a World Music Award in Monaco.
The official Middle Eastern face for Pepsi in the past, Diab shot several commercials with them, and was also in a major Pepsi commercial, featuring US celebrities Beyonce, Pink, Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears.
The move to put Egyptian singer Amr Diab and Google+ in one sentence will no doubt give the social network far more exposure in the region. Social networking has been growing at impressive rates in the Middle East, with Facebook of course taking the lead. Facebook penetration rates in the UAE are among the highest in the world, while Egypt has the most users in the Middle East at 9 million.
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