How do they use this technology?

Have you ever wondered how people in the MENA region use technology, specifically social media?

Social media use, as well as long-term trends, has changed dramatically during the pandemic.

Here are the top five conclusions to keep in mind.

The Middle East loves social media

While usage varies, social media users in the broader Middle East and Africa region spend more than three and a half hours per day on these platforms.

They split the time across several different channels. According to Forbes, netizens in the region have 8.4 social media accounts on average, rising to 10.5 in the UAE, which has “the largest number of social media accounts per person globally.

Older platforms remain relevant

Newer visual social networks are popular, especially in the more affluent Gulf region, where smartphone penetration and incomes are higher.

However, older networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, remain very relevant in North Africa and Turkey, where their acceptance is expanding.

Egypt is the most populous country in the region, with a population of over 100 million, and it is the ninth largest national market for Facebook globally, with 44 million users.

Libya, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are among the countries with the highest levels of Facebook penetration, relative to the population, according to data from We Are Social and Hootsuite.

Facebook also continues to grow in several North African markets: Morocco, Algeria and Egypt are among the top ten markets where the platform is expanding the fastest.

Meanwhile, Turkey (ranked 6), Saudi Arabia (ranked 8) and Egypt (ranked 18) are among the 20 largest markets for Twitter.

Lebanese popular artist Elissa is also the most influential figure in the Arab world on Twitter and the only one from the region to stand out among the 50 most international influencers on this social media, according to a report published by Brandwatch.

Communication habits redefine other behaviors

Social media adoption is also beginning to affect the behaviors of consumers and other media.

More than three quarters (79%) of Arab citizens between the ages of 18 and 24 say they consume news through social networks. This is up from 25% in 2015, according to the latest survey on Arab youth.

Social networks are also shaping other activities. For example, users in Morocco (60%), Egypt (60%), Saudi Arabia (59%), Turkey (56%), Israel (52%), and the United Arab Emirates (49%) are more likely to use networks as part of their brand research More than the global average.

As e-commerce, online shopping and online gambling continue to grow, after the boost they received during the COVID-19 pandemic, this type of online behavior will become even more important.

Saudi Arabia is leading the regional adoption of online shopping during the pandemic, and this trend is likely to continue after the pandemic.

Regarding online gambling, in recent years, especially during the pandemic, this trend has increased in the Middle East due to restrictive laws that prohibit players from playing in physical casinos.

Online gambling sites help users get to know the best online casino sites, which are more convenient, accessible and offer more games than physical casinos. The most popular online games are poker, roulette or live dealer blackjack which is an immersive and exciting way to play blackjack online.

Visual Networking Effect

Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt are among the top 15 Snapchat local markets globally.

Apparently, in Saudi Arabia, more people are watching Snapchat Discover content daily than any of the top 10 TV channels, before and during the pandemic.

With the rise of TikTok, top influencers on the platform in the Gulf region increased their followers by an average of 65% between February and August 2020, with the highest user engagement in Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Another interesting fact is that 70% of internet users in Egypt watch YouTube daily. As a result, the network launched YouTube Premium, an ad-free subscription service, last year, allowing offline access.

This way, users can watch the videos they have downloaded and have access to background playback, where the audio continues to play even if the user exits the YouTube app.

COVID-19 reinforcements

More than half of users in the MENA region were spending more time on social networks as a result of the pandemic.

Similarly, in the Middle East, WhatsApp and other messaging apps have increased since the pandemic due to social distancing.

In addition to encouraging more time on social networks, COVID-19 has also pointed to the importance of social networks as sources of information.

Efforts to combat disinformation have created opportunities for civil society organizations and NGOs to adopt networks as a critical channel for communicating with the public.

In Sudan, for example, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the International Children’s Emergency Fund, and the World Health Organization have created COVID-19 alerts on WhatsApp in both Arabic and English. The goal was to provide tips on how to stay safe, frequently asked questions, and advice on how to protect yourself.

Elsewhere, the Palestinian Mada Center, Iraq Tech 4 Peace, and the Lebanese Maharat Foundation have addressed COVID-19 rumors on social media and highlighted accurate sources of public health information.

Governments have also relied on social media, using multiple platforms to spread life-saving messages.

The impact of these efforts, and the importance of social media as a source of news and entertainment in the region, indicates that as a channel for engagement, these platforms will continue to be important to a wide range of people long after the pandemic has passed. .

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