Social Media Influencers in the Middle East

Social networks in the Middle East are home to influencers too, but while their pages may look familiar, they can experience unique challenges.

Damian Radcliffe
Damian Radcliffe
Published in
3 min readJul 29, 2019

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Image via Marie Claire. Original image credits: THE ABDEL AZIZ SISTERS; MAHMOUD OTHMAN; SAZDEL EL KAK; PASCAL LE SEGRETAIN/GETTY;

This is an extract from my new report “State of Social Media, Middle East: 2018,” which was co-written with Payton Bruni and published earlier this year. Read the Executive Summary and other sections on Market Context, Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat and Bitmoji, YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram, Arab Youth, Fake News, Censorship and Freedom of Expression, Yemen’s Civil War and Social Media.

The role of social media influencers in the Middle East region has garnered considerable attention this year:

  • CNN’s list of the Top 10 beauty influencers of the Middle East, ranked Huda Kattan, number one. With 26.2 million Instagram followers, her net worth is estimated at $550 million[i] and her company — Huda Beauty — is valued at more than $1 billion.[ii]
  • With the headline “Meet the Kardashians of the Middle East” Marie Claire looked at how “Social-media mavens in the Middle East are bucking tradition and repressive laws to seek fame and fortune online.”
  • The feature included interviews with Zain Karazon (who has more than 1 million Instagram followers), WonderTan founder Alice Abdel Aziz, the Kuwaiti makeup artist Al Fahad, and the Lebanese TV and radio host Sazdel El Kak.

Unique challenges

However, social media influencers in the Middle East face their own set of challenges:

  • The UAE has set out to manage its booming community of social media influencers by regulating the sector, Think Marketing reported earlier in the year.[iv] .
  • Cairo based website Digital Boom noted that the law to regulate the influencer marketing industry came into effect on June 1st.

“UAE-based social media influencers who are making

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Damian Radcliffe
Damian Radcliffe

Chambers Professor in Journalism @uoregon | Fellow @TowCenter @CardiffJomec @theRSAorg | Write @wnip @ZDNet | Host Demystifying Media podcast https://itunes.app