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]
While we’ve already known for quite some time that Facebook’s penetration rates in the Middle East are relatively low, a new report from Arabic website Zajil, gives more insight into the figures of existing Internet users in the region who use Facebook. The report incorporates all the countries in the region with the exception of Syria and Sudan.
Penetration rates in the Middle East
While the UAE has the highest penetration rate in the Middle East with 54% of the population on Facebook, it’s interesting to find that the figure increases to 78% of all Internet users. In comparison with the United States, the country with the most Facebook users at over 150 million, the UAE’s penetration rates are higher both in terms of population and Internet users. According to Social Bakers, the only 50% of the US population is on Facebook, and only 65.8% of the Internet population uses Facebook. In fact, when it comes to population penetration rates, the UAE is the 7th highest in the world.
In Tunisia, like in the UAE, 78% of the Internet population is on Facebook. However, when we come to the penetration rates of the population as a whole, it drops drastically to 26%.
Algeria comes next with 8% of the population, versus 60% of the Internet population, followed by Morocco with 13% of the population, versus 31% of Internet users. Saudi Arabia’s Facebook penetration stands at 17% of the population, versus 40% of its Internet users, and lastly, Egypt’s penetration rate is a mere 11%, with 47% of its Internet users on the social networking site.
Despite the low penetration numbers, Egypt has the most Facebook users in the region, with over 9 million users, with Saudi Arabia and Morocco trailing far behind with just over 4 million each. Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan and the UAE are in the 2 million range, while Lebanon and Iraq have over 1 million Facebook users. Kuwait, Palestine, Libya, Oman, Qatar and Yemen all have less than 1 million Facebook users to their names, while Mauritania has just over 80,000.
Men outnumber women on Facebook in the Middle East
While throughout the world, the pattern tends to see more women using the social network than men, a pattern which can be seen across the board on social media. In the Middle East, however, the region’s patterns are the complete opposite. As we saw in the Dubai School of Government’s (DSG) third social media report, far less women are using social media, with women accounting for only one third of the region’s Facbeook users.
As DGS’s report revealed, the main concerns women have when it comes to using social media tools like Facebook include societal and cultural limitations, privacy issues and a lack of confidence in social media, among other reasons.
Breaking it down by country, Lebanon has the most balanced ratio, with women accounting for 44.3% of the country’s Facebook users. Jordan and Tunisia come next at 41.3%, followed by Bahrain at 40%. Yemen, Iraq, and Mauritania’s ratio is far lower, with just over 20% for each country.
The UAE, while in the top 10 countries throughout the world as far as Facebook penetration rates are concerned, disappoints when it comes to the ratio of men to women, with just over 30% of women in the UAE using the social networking site.
As far as age groups are concerned, the Middle East’s youth dominates the Facebook market. Teenagers ages 13 to 17 account for 17% of Facebook users in the Middle East, while the 18 to 28 age group accounts for 54%. 11% of Facebook’s users in the Middle East are aged 29 to 32.
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