Latest trends in social media across the Middle East highlighted in new White Paper [Infographic]

“Social Media in the Middle East: 2019 in review” is the eighth annual study on social network use in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) written by Professor Damian Radcliffe, and the first co-written with University of Oregon PhD student HadilAbuhmaid.

Press Release

A new white paper from Damian Radcliffe and HadilAbuhmaid at the University of Oregon provides a comprehensive analysis of how the Middle East uses social media.

Infographics by go-globe  SEO Muscat

10 key findings

  1. Arab Youth: 9 out of 10 young Arabs use at least one social media channel every day, although the use of individual networks varies considerably across the region. Meanwhile, half of Arab Youth say they get their news on Facebook on a daily basis, ahead of other channels, such as online portals (39%), TV (34%) and newspapers (4%).
  2. Facebook: The world’s largest social network now has 187 million active monthly users in the region. Egypt is the largest market for Facebook in MENA. It is home to 38 million daily users and 40 million monthly users.
  3. Twitter: Among Arab nationals use has fallen by half since 2013. That said, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are the fifth and sixth largest markets for Twitter globally. Over 10 million users are active on the social network in Saudi Arabia, and 8.3 million in Turkey.
  4. Instagram: There are more than 63 million users of Instagram in the Middle East. Turkey is the sixth largest market for Instagram worldwide, with 37 million members (56% penetration). Take-up is also high in Kuwait (54% penetration) and Bahrain (50%.)
  5. YouTube: More than 60% of YouTube viewers in MENA are millennials. In Egypt, 77% of millenials watch YouTube every day.
  6. Snapchat: Saudi Arabia is the fifth largest market for Snapchat in the world, with over 15.65 million users. Turkey, with 7.45 million users, is the ten largest market.
  7. Manipulation: Facebook removed 259 Facebook accounts, 102 Facebook Pages, five Facebook Groups, four Facebook Events and 17 Instagram accounts, “for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Twitter suspended over 4,500 accounts across the region, due to platform manipulation and state-backed information campaigns.
  8. Digital Parenting: Half of all mothers in the Middle East watch kids content on YouTube. Parents in MENA increasingly use YouTube to bond and share experiences with their children, as well as relying on the channel for advice.
  9. WhatsApp: Is the most used Facebook owned service, with 75% penetration, although other messaging services such as Viber are also popular in some parts of the region.
  10. Ramadan: Social media users spend around 2 million more hours daily on Facebook during Ramadan. That translates to around 58 million more hours. On YouTube, TV dramas and soap operas see a 151% increase in viewership during Ramadan.

Damian Radcliffe said:

“This year’s report highlights the growing role played by social media in meeting the information needs lives of Arab Youth and young parents, as well as the prominent role that social networks play in the media habits of the region during Ramadan.

Social media usage continues to evolve. Twitter, for example, once the poster child for social networks in the region, has declined in usage outside of Saudi Arabia and Turkey; which are the fifth and sixth largest markets for Twitter in the world.

Meanwhile, greater scrutiny by platform owners resulted in Facebook, Twitter and Telegram each closing hundreds of accounts in 2019 due to inappropriate use by state sponsored actors and terrorist groups.”

Report co-author HadilAbuhmaidsaid:

“Alongside these trends, the importance of social video and visually-led social networks, continued to grow.

In the last year, Snapchat introduced new advertising formats to the region, Google highlighted the importance of YouTube in supporting parents and parenting, and in major markets such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Twitter has emerged as a leading platform for online video consumption.”

Drawing on data from a wide range of published sources including industry announcements, news reporting from around the world, as well as data from Google, Northwestern University in Qatar and the annual Arab Youth Survey, Social Media in the Middle East: 2019 in review offers a detailed 55-page analysis of the most important social media developments in the past year.

Looking ahead to 2020, Damian Radcliffe said:

“The year ahead is likely to result in a continuation of many of the trends outlined in this report, but concerns about misinformation and manipulation are only going to increase.

As a result, it will be increasingly important for social media users to develop their ability to discern bias, the differences between news and opinion, and fact versus fiction.

Government’s, civil society, education providers and social networks themselves all have a role to play in increasing media literacy among social networkers.”

The complete report is available to download, or view online, via the University of Oregon Scholars' Bank, Scribd, LinkedIn’s SlideShare, and ResearchGate.


About the Authors: Damian Radcliffe and HadilAbuhmaid


Damian Radcliffe is the Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism, and a Professor of Practice, at the University of Oregon. In this role, he undertakes a wide range of teaching, research and journalistic work, which includes writing a monthly column on technology in the Middle East for CBS Interactive’s ZDNet (which he has done since December 2013).

He has produced an annual report charting social media developments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since 2012. Between 2012-2014 he worked for Qatar’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ictQATAR) as an analyst and researcher. He joined the University of Oregon in 2015.

Damian is also an affiliate of the Department for Middle East and North African Studies at the University of Oregon, a Fellow of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, an Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture Studies, and a fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). He tweets @damianradcliffe.

HadilAbuhmaidis a Media Studies PhD student and a Graduate Employee at the University of Oregon. Her primary area of research interest explores national identity and culture in Palestinian cinema.

Hadil earned a BS in Journalism and Political Science from Bir-Zeit University in Palestine and an MA in Nonprofit Management from the University of Oregon, with a focus on Arts Administration. She is the co-founder of Filmlab: Palestine, a nonprofit company based in Ramallah, that aims at developing the cinema industry in Palestine.

Through her research, Hadil aims to examine the formation and self-representation of the national identity in Palestinian feature films produced within the historical map of Palestine by researching their production, audience, and aesthetics. Her research interests include cinema studies, diasporic studies, representations, and national identity.

For Media Enquiries

Damian Radcliffe

Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism, University of Oregon

Email: [email protected]

Tel:      (+1) 541-346-7643

Twitter: @damianradcliffe (DM’s open)

Latest trends in social media across the Middle East highlighted in new White Paper [Infographic] by Go-Globe

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