STUDY: Facebook dominates in Middle East

NUQ_Internet_10_SocialNetworksWhile Twitter might have gotten most of the social media attention during the Arab Spring, Facebook now has a greater impact in the Middle East.

According to a study by Northwestern University in Qatar and the Doha Film Institute, the use of Twitter is now coming in a far second place to Facebook. Facebook is the most popular social network in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, used by nearly twice as many internet users as Twitter.

The “Entertainment Media Use in the Middle East” survey represented 6,035 face-to-face interviews in the countries of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

More than 90 percent of internet users are on Facebook in five of the six countries covered in this study. Only in Qatar is Facebook used by fewer than three-quarters of those on the internet, at 70 percent, driven by very low use among Qatari nationals. Qatari citizens are considerably more likely to use Instagram, with 46 percent doing so.

Instagram is used by about a fifth of internet users in the survey, but is essentially not used at all in Egypt or Tunisia. Instagram is more popular with younger users – with very little penetration among those 45 or older – and is much more likely to be used among those with university degrees. Nationals in the UAE and Qatar are more likely to use Instagram, at 49 percent and 46 percent, respectively. On the whole, Asian expats are less likely to use Instagram; only about one in ten do so.

Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar, said in a press release:

Understanding cultural attitudes around entertainment is as important to industry leaders and policymakers as viewership and other audience figures. This research provides a base of knowledge for executives across all sectors, including entertainment, sport, and children’s programming.

The study also found that internet use is widespread in the nations surveyed, with 74 percent of men and 63 percent of women responding that they are internet users.

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