How the Middle East uses Social Media: 18 things we learned in 2018

Since 2012, I’ve produced an annual study tracking trends in social media in the Middle East. This week saw the publication of the seventh of these reports.

As in previous years, findings used a wide variety of academic, industry and media sources, to showcase the latest developments, trends and research in social media usage across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The 2018 study — State of Social Media, Middle East: 2018 — was written in conjunction with University of Oregon student Payton Bruni, and designed by another UO student, Corey Gedrose.

Here are 18 standout stats from 2018:

  1. Facebook has 164 million active monthly users in the Arab world. This is up from 56 million Facebook users just five years earlier.
  2. Egypt remains the biggest national market for Facebook in the region, with 24 million daily users and nearly 37 million monthly mobile users.
  3. Saudi Arabia (KSA) has the highest annual growth rate of social media users anywhere in the world.
  4. Data from We Are Social and Hootsuite, revealed social media users in KSA grew by 32% vs. a worldwide average of 13% (Jan 2017-Jan 2018).
  5. Less than 30% of Twitter users in MENA post original content.
  6. Retweets mean the top 2% (0.6% overall) drive c.75% of the Twitter conversation, researchers Marc Owen Jones (Exeter University) and Alexei Abrahams (Princeton) found.
  7. There are about 12 million daily users of Snapchat in the GCC. This includes 9 million in Saudi Arabia (out of a population of 32 million) and 1 million in UAE.
  8. The number of YouTube channels in MENA has risen by 160% in the past three years.
  9. More than 200 YouTube channels in the region have over one million subscribers. Over 30,000 channels have more than 10,000 subscribers.
  10. Almost two thirds (63%) of Arab Youth say they look first to Facebook and Twitter for news.
  11. Nearly half of young Arabs (49%) say they get their news on Facebook daily, up from 35% last year.
  12. 61% of Arab Youth say they use Facebook more frequently than a year ago.
  13. In May 2018, 29% of tweets in Arabic about Qatar were tweeted by bots up from 17% a year before.
  14. Of the 180 countries studied in the Reporters Without Borders 2018 World Press Freedom Index, Yemen was ranked at 167, Saudi Arabia at 169, and Syria at 177.
  15. Egypt’s new social media laws mean social media accounts with more than 5,000 followers can be monitored, and websites must be licensed by the government.
  16. Huda Kattan, was ranked number one on CNN’s list of the Top 10 beauty influencers in the Middle East. Her net worth is estimated at $550 million. She has 32.5 million Instagram followers.
  17. From June 1st, UAE-based social media influencers must obtain a license for any commercially-oriented work. Licenses cost 15,000 AED (just over $4,000) and are valid for a year.”
  18. An Instagram post from footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who was in Dubai for New Year’s Eve 2018, has had more than 10 million likes. Ronaldo has over 150 million Instagram followers.

Download the full study today from the University of Oregon Scholars’ Bank, or view it below and via Scribd, SlideShare, ResearchGate and Academia.Edu.

NB: Medium no longer seems to support the use of imported footnotes, so please see the full report for detailed citations, or follow the hyperlinks above.

Sources:

https://www.iafrikan.com/2018/02/07/facebook-marketplace-is-now-available-in-algeria-egypt-and-morocco/

https://menafn.com/1097670225/24-million-Facebook-users-in-Egypt-head-of-public-policies-in-MENA

https://wearesocial-net.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/DIGITAL-IN-2018-008- GROWTH-IN-SOCIAL-MEDIA-USERS-V1.00.png

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/06/05/fighting-the-weaponization-of-so- cial-media-in-the-middle-east/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.799aba1c0fca

https://www.tahawultech.com/lifestyle/snap-original-shows-middleeast-snapchat/

https://www.arabianbusiness.com/media/400686-how-youtube-plans-to-stay-ahead-in-the-middle-east

https://www.zdnet.com/article/middle-east-youth-and-tech-whats-happened-since-the-arab-spring/

https://www.arabyouthsurvey.com/pdf/whitepaper/en/2018-AYS-White-Paper.pdf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/06/05/fighting-the-weaponization-of-so- cial-media-in-the-middle-east/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9be433398f1d

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc87B_hPJUI

https://rsf.org/en/ranking#

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1340656/media

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/23/health/gallery/middle-east-beauty-influencers/index.html

https://adigitalboom.com/uae-new-influencer-marketing-policy-comes-into-effect/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsESC6dgQct/?utm_source=ig_embed