Social Media in the Middle East: The Story of 2013

by · January 20, 2014

One of our most popular presentations from the past 12 months highlighted key social media developments across the Middle East during 2012. As a result, we decided to do the same thing looking back at 2013.

You can see the results of these efforts below and what they show is that the local social media continues to be a fast moving space.

In the past year we have seen the emergence of new platforms such as Vine and Keek, and the continued evolution of more established social networks such as Instagram and Facebook. Both of these are becoming increasingly important players in the emergence of eCommerce markets in the region, with MENA being the fastest growing e-commerce region worldwide according to some reports.

The year 2013 also saw the continued take up and usage of many social networks, with Facebook continuing to dominate the social network behaviors of many MENA users. Evidence from Northwestern University in Qatar showed that almost everyone who uses social media in the Middle East has a Facebook account.

But as the Dubai School of Government showed in some markets – notably GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain – the number of users for this network are dropping. This suggests that Facebook fatigue is not just a Western phenomenon.  It will be interesting to see if this development continues in 2014, and whether this change is universal or confined to certain age groups. After all, with some groups, the network remains reasonably resilient. This drop off may be the result of users migrating to other platforms.

Twitter has the highest penetration, anywhere in the word, in Saudi Arabia, whilst high smartphone penetration could be a key reason for YouTube’s continued growth in the region. After all, 50% of all views in KSA are via mobile devices. In UAE , mobile consumption of YouTube videos is only slightly behind at 40%.

Will this mobile momentum continue in 2014? Tell us what you think.


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